Is this normal behaviour?

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howsefrau32's picture
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Joined: 2008-06-27

I have posted here before, but it has been some time.  Anyway, I have had my dobe girl, Greta since she was 11 weeks old, she just turned 1 on March 28th, she was a rescue from a busted up puppy mill that was overrun with puppies.  We took her in knowing we had no idea what we were going to get as far as health, temperament, etc.  We immedietly put her in puppy kindergarten, we take her everywhere and she is fairly sweet around most everyone she meets, with the exception of big tall men, she is fine if they are standing around, but if they approach her she backs off and sometimes growls.  Although she is very sweet around ladies and loves kids, wags her tail every time she sees one (she has only been around kids 4 and up and is fine around them), she will wag her tail and be friendly, but she does not want to be petted on the top of her head.  There are times when she doesn't want US to pet her on the top of her head.  She won't growl, she just dodges our hands.  Her tail is wagging, she is not upset, she just doesn't want to be petted.  Now, she will let us pet her under her chin and neck, she LOVES that, will let others pet her there.  I just think it's wierd how she doesn't want to be touched on the top of her head.  At other times, when she initiates it, she puts her head in our lap, we rub all over her ears, her face and she is fine.  Another wierd thing she does is that she will not give kisses.  Very rarely she will, if she knows you have a treat, but she is not a kisser.  My husband is perplexed, his dogs would always give a kiss if he asked for one, this one won't do it.  I am wondering is this just adolescent behaviour? Will she get better about these things as she matures or is she always going to be reluctant to have her head petted and to give kisses?   

rgreen4's picture
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Joined: 2008-10-26

Not all dogs will give kisses. My Red, 6 year old male, will give you a bath. I keep asking if he provides towels. Princess at almost 5 months is still very reserved. It sounds as if your little girl came from an abusive situation and remembers being hit on top of the head. While I have had and been around other large dogs, I don't remember them as laying their head in my lap like most of my Dobies have done (and Red does).

Another characteristic to watch for is when you are sitting at a table and not paying attention, is to come up, put her nose under the arm or hand to let you know it's time to pet the dog. She may not do it for a while though if she not fond of being petted on the head.

Sometimes they will also nose you to tell you to pay attention to them. I have past Dobies wake me in the morning by prodding me with their muzzle, and it will get your attention. 

howsefrau32's picture
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Joined: 2008-06-27

She does the nose under your arm thing at the table and is doing it right now while I am on the computer, another place that she frequently will stick that nose under your arm to get your attention.  She has given kisses, occasionally, when she feels like it.  I think maybe she is just stubborn.  My husband had a dobe that would wake him up with a kiss every morning.  He learned to sleep with his face away from the bed or he would get it right in the face.  She was only 11 weeks old when we got her, but as I said before, she came from a very sad situation, a puppy mill that was broken up and Greta and four of her littermates ended up with a rescue group, which is where I got her.  If she were hit on the head at that young an age, would she likely remember that?  I assume she probably would.  I do believe that a man was her abuser, because she still doesn't like tall men very much, and when we first got her she was terrified if she saw one.  Now she doesn't cower or growl at them, unless they try to approach her without permission. 

Thank you so much for your response!

rgreen4's picture
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Joined: 2008-10-26

While I have never had a rescue animal, I understand that they get even closer to you, for they full well understand that you have saved them from a bad situation. And yes, puppies will remember things from that young age, especially a traumatic time. It has not traumatized her though, which is good. You do indeed have a special girl.