My dog (who came from a shelter at 6 months old) loves people–but she almost seems to love them too much! She gets so excited and won’t stop licking people when she meets them. She loves dogs, too, and races up to them but won’t allow other dogs to smell her. (She is spayed.) What do you think this means and what can I do to help her be calmer when she meets people and dogs?
Often, excessive licking and affection are due to inherent personality traits as well as being submissive as a result of abuse your dog may have experienced early in her life. To avoid or ward off being further physically or verbally abused, she may have exhibited submissive behavior. Licking people or other animals; rolling over, giving them her paw –in the case of a rescue dog – may mean she is simply “deferring” to them and letting them know she means no harm or poses no threat. She is also letting them know that she does not want to be hurt. She is accepting their “dominance” over her. Her loving and affectionate behaviors are a result of her personality and her experiences at the shelter and wherever she lived prior to that. If she hasn’t been to socialization classes or received obedience training, I highly recommend that you provide her with these experiences. When she jumps all over other people and animals, do not get angry or excited. Calm down, and speak to her in a soothing, calm and matter-of-fact voice. Do not encourage these behaviors – simply do your best to downplay them.
Dr. Pomerance is an animal behavior specialist and an expert on topics such as deciding which puppy is best for your family, how to pick out a rescue, and on healing from the loss of a pet.
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