Protection vs Affection?

On a typical evening here, I go to bed before Carol.

Just recently, as I have gone over to Carol to give her a goodnight kiss, Ray has rushed over seemingly to intervene. He has not succeeded to date however there was an element of concern with his intentions because he is so closely attached to her.

Given my history of being bitten by Sabre*, and having experienced Ray a few times when he was not “at his best”, (a huge understatement, but stories for another time), I was rather concerned and therefore proceeded with caution. I (standing) would bend over to kiss Carol (who was sitting) and hold that position until Ray joined us and seemed settled. The kiss could then be completed.

Over the past few days, his interest has expanded to include pretty much any show of affection and, when a 75lb dog is apparently homing in on me (and clearly on a mission) my immediate reaction is to “wait and see” before I do anything that I might regret.

The question would appear to be: Does he want to be a part of the display of affection, or is he in a definitive “protect Carol” mode? We know only too well that he can badly misread body language with disastrous results (more stories for another time) so caution would seem rather prudent.

While I am always in bed before Carol, I am also always up before her. As noted recently**, that gives me a few undisturbed hours to get some computer work done downstairs, after which I come upstairs to catch up with Blogging world!

This morning I was sitting on the edge of my bed working on my laptop when Carol came in and went to give me a good morning kiss, but a flying Ray kind of spoiled the moment. We managed a quick kiss while he was between us but then he pushed Carol’s face away from me and proceeded to groom her with his teeth.

While he was quite boisterous, he was not threatening and so we decided to hug and see what he did. Ray again pushed himself between us, but this time he pushed my face away and started grooming me. I am not totally convinced that he is happy so caution will prevail for a time, but it is really starting to look as if he simply wants to be included in any show of affection. No doubt there will be a follow-up Post as we try different scenarios and watch his reactions!

In my history of 5 cats, 3 rabbits and 2 kids, I have never experienced such behavior before! A dog, or at least this dog, is very different!

*See “About Me”

**See “Toast Anybody?” – June 22, 2015

23 thoughts on “Protection vs Affection?

  1. Hi Ray, Was reading some of your posts and saw this one. Felt your concern in what you wrote … agree that this is concerning, but actually probably fairly easily resolved.

    The why is he doing this now can be pondered, but we’ll never actually know why. For some reason unknown it’s become an issue.

    What you have described is a dog who is concerned over the situation and is rushing to insert himself between you two and it sounds as if his agitation/purpose is expanding and he is getting you to stop showing affectionate displays in his presence.

    Classical conditioning is an easy answer. Add food … you have said he likes food a lot. Food is a calming addition, a pleasurable addition and if you add it as part of your approaches it will change his emotions about affectionate displays (from concern to pleasant). Either of you can do the offering of food and it can come from your hands or be dropped on the floor. If you want this counter-conditioned fairly rapidly do 3 sessions (3-5 minutes each) of multiple approaches daily with food dropped when you can see his concern/actions just beginning or even just before they begin. Make it a game, laugh.

    I have dealt with this with many different dogs. It is not that unusual and it is quite easily fixable without any extreme measures or worries.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agreed. We have used positive reinforcement (and behavior adjustment techniques) successfully with so many of his issues and do not anticipate a problem with this one. Just a small point of “accuracy” – I am Colin. Ray is 75lbs of Shepherd/Rottweiler! I do the writing around here, and Ray gives me things to write about!


  2. Colin, I don’t really know your dog, however, I am going to write from experience and observation. And this is merely my opinion and for what’s it worth or not.

    I think that by allowing Ray to always sit next to Carol or that is my assumption that he sees himself as her protector and his property. If it were my dog I would put a stop to that by having Carol get up when he moves next to her and then have her sit down next to you. SHE should be the one to tell him no, That he can not sit next to her and then you sit down by your wife, I would not give him attention but praise him for being a good boy.

    Also when kissing your wife I would not allow him to be present and close him out of the room. His behavior of mouthing and biting is a sign of aggressive/possessive dominance. I had that same problem with my Aussie Cattle Dog and non-dominant female lab. The Aussie mouthed the lab each time the lab was near me. Initially it was very minor and then grew to something that I could no longer control. Zoey the cattle dog was a mad hatter and chewed on poor Molly until I could divert her attention.

    Ray is quite a large dog and he can surely hurt you badly. I think that he has determined you as the weak link in the household and he has now taken advantage of that. The dynamics can be so subtle that you will not even be aware of what is happening.

    I could be very wrong about this new development. But I think you should consult the shelter trainers and read up on dog’s that try to dominate their humans.

    For what it is worth- Rotties and GSD are considered dominant breeds, at least I think that’s what I have read

    Good luck and I’m sorry to be so late commenting.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Many thanks for your detailed response. I am certainly going to stay on top of it until satisfied that it either cannot escalate into a problem, or better, that it is totally resolved. Given our relationship with the shelter trainers, that is probably the way to go. Thx again.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Oreo has acted jealous of any affection anyone gives me since we’ve adopted him 4 years ago. He had never done anything I would say crosses a line. He just inserts himself between me and other thing. He will play snap at Breck, but B rarely seeks attention… only for treats!

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      • We didn’t because there was no malice intended. We allowed all of them to be “protective” of me because Greg used to work nights and I was always home alone.

        I would suggest that you teach Ray that upon command, he must move away and sit until you tell him otherwise. Once he learns that, let him continue to be involved but every once in awhile, still make him back away. That way he understands you’re the boss.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Whenever you have a shelter rescue, caution is prudent. Not to say Ray is acting overly protective here but I’d definitely keep an eye out since he sounds like he might be ‘claiming’ Carol. I’m sure all is ok, but it’s never a bad thing to be cautious.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Hi Colin, I am not an expert on anything at all. I just love dogs, have had quite a few and brought a couple to trainers. From my experience, if Ray is doing this playfully, with no show of aggression, or submission, he is probably not concerned. If he isn’t concerned, that is great. Sometimes, people don’t realize that a dog showing submission in a situation is not just about a choice to back down, but also the clue that they see a reason for someone to be submissive. If no one is needing to be submissive at a moment, it is because they feel fine and everyone is safe.
    If when he does this, he is pushing Carol back, with signs of submission, like my dog might put her head down and try to back herself and the person behind her up. Her head down, eyes looking down, she would asking me nicely to stop what I was doing. So it would sort of look like she was give me a kiss, put her head down real quick, go to step back, look up for another kiss and repeat this.
    This may sound nuts to you, but it is a request and dogs, not unlike us will ask nicely only so many times when they want you to stop what is upsetting them.
    You did mention it did not seem aggressive which is why I mentioned the submission. Anyway, as I said, I am not an expert, just my thoughts. I do hope it is all in good love for Ray, although if not, you could try having Carol come to you a few times, while she tells Ray to do whatever it you both want him to in the situations. That way, she is telling him it is fine. Might help his worries. Triple.

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  6. I’m unsure as to Ray’s responses here. He might be becoming over-protective of Carol?
    When I have a problem of jealousy with my dogs I clearly say the name of the dog that is going to get affection eg Little Monkey’s turn – and the other dog has to wait. Then I say their name, (SL’s turn) and the first dog has to wait. It might be worth a try?
    Carol’s turn! Rays turn. Then Ray will know the pecking order, and that he will be given affection too, but when you decide.

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