You know the scenario: you're sitting or standing peacefully when suddenly a dead weight thumps against you. Your pooch has arrived out of nowhere and glued himself to you. This behavior could occur for a number of reasons, ranging from implied dominance to plain old affection-seeking.
I'm in Charge
Many dog behavior experts, including the Dog Whisperer himself, Cesar Milan, believe this usurping of personal space is indicative of assertive dominance behavior. In other words, your dog is trying to lay claim to leadership of the pack by expanding his personal space into yours. Dogs need to know who's in charge of the pack, and if he doesn't pick up the “boss” vibes from you, he'll take it upon himself to assume control.
On the flip side, your dog could be acting like a canine barnacle because he does view you as the leader and needs support when he's afraid. Thunderstorms, vacuum cleaners and unfamiliar areas are just a few things that might give your dog the urge to share the same space as you. He'll press against you to have that tactile feeling of something safe and familiar, and seek comfort with the leader of his pack.
Some dogs are just snuggle-craving babies, and aren't suffering from any anxiety or feeling that they need to dominate you when they lean against you. These dogs are just after some love. They may rub against you or push their nose into your hand as they lean, all signs that they don't feel you're giving them the amount of attention and affection they deserve. Yes, the experts will claim that these could all be dominance behaviors, but you know your dog best and can tell if he's being pushy or just snuggly.
Altering the Behavior
Depending on the situation surrounding this behavior, you may not have much of a problem with your dog's leaning tendencies. But if he's a large dog, or is against you all the time, you may want to discourage this behavior. The most basic way to discourage his leaning is to take control of the situation. Ignore him completely when he wants attention and do not give in when he seeks affection. Assert yourself in a confident manner to assume the role of the leader. Redirect his attention when he's being lean-happy, such as by telling him to fetch a toy or go to his bed. You can play with him and give affection, but do it on your terms, not when he demands it by pressing against you.
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