When we see animals, we tend to admire their faces, their body types, as well as any characteristics we find appealing, just as we would with other humans. We tend to communicate through our voices and facial expressions, as well as the energy we display around dogs, and even humans. Yet, dogs do this expression more through touch, at least when it is positive. Dogs communicate and understand through physical touch, more than anything else. Understanding why dogs touch us and desire to be near us is important to the canine - human relationship.
The Root of the Behavior
Dogs tend to love being around us and usually when they are around us, they love to push their bodies up against ours. It may seem weird when you sit down to truly think about it, but it is their way of communicating. Just as a child will grab their parent's leg when they are uncomfortable, or even comfortable, your dog will do the same.
Leaning on you is a way your dog lets you know that they trust you and they love to be around you, in any type of situation. Yet, leaning is only one form of physical touch. You may notice when your dog is in your bed with you, or if you are sitting near each other, he wants to put his head on you or nudge you in some capacity. This type of touch is simply because he loves being with you and it is a form of affection. They feel happy in your presence and the warmth of you brings them comfort.
Another major form of touch that your dog may constantly do is nudging their nose on you or even pawing you. These two forms of touch are more for attention, but each one may exhibit a different need. When your dog begins to nudge their nose into you, they may want to have your attention and your affection, especially if it is directed somewhere else. Yet, if you are sad or if your dog feels something may be wrong, they may nudge you to get your attention, so they know you are okay. Their nudge can be a way to show you attention. If your dog is constantly pawing at you, that is another form of attention. They may try and paw you after you pet them or if they are waiting for food or even a walk. Most times, when your dog is touching you they are either trying to show you attention and affection, or they are desiring something for you.
Your dog loves you and you are their pack leader, so any bit of touch brings them comfort, warmth, and love to some degree. It is also their way of communicating any form of need as well.
Encouraging the Behavior
When your dog touches you, whether that be through leaning on you, putting their head in your lap, or even pawing you, it is always for some purpose. Sometimes, they just love to spend time with you, while other times, they may be wanting attention from you. It is a give and take in their reasoning, but it is a part of the relationship. Your dog touching you is something that should be encouraged, because it is their way of communicating with you. From the beginning, it is a dog’s instinct to feel, communicate, and explore using physical touch.
If your dog doesn't like being around you, they may not want to touch you, but just as you pet your dog, and even kiss them, they receive love and attention through touch, just as they give it. If you tend to not like it and it feels bothersome, it may be best to invest in a pet that is not of a clingy breed, and more of a breed that is independent. Depending on how you are and what you desire in a companion, your dog can and will fulfill it. Yet, just with every relationship, it is important to learn what your dog loves and what you love, as their pet parent.
Other Solutions and Considerations
Your relationship with your dog is an important one, and understanding your needs as well as theirs is important. Your dog’s constant love for cuddling and touching you should not be a bad thing and if it is, there may be a reason why. If you feel like your dog is clinging you in a way that feels like it may be suffocating you, it may be wise to have them checked with the veterinarian, just to make sure they are not having separation anxiety or in need of something that you are unaware of. If you feel like you need space, you may also want to create a boundary with your pet and teach them they are safe and do not need to always be near you.
The relationship you create with your dog is an important one. Cuddling, touching, sniffing, and licking are all ways that dogs communicate with us. Whether you love being near your dog all the time or not, they love spending time with you, and reciprocating the love is important to their well - being as well as yours.
By hannah hollinger
Published: 02/08/2018, edited: 05/05/2021