If your pooch regularly pushes against you, it might be because he wants your attention, or is scared. It might also be him trying to show you he’s in charge. If you watch closely, your dog’s body language can tell you a lot about what's going on inside his head.
Your dog might push you or bump you to get your attention. For example, if you're out on a walk and you stop to chitchat with a neighbor, your dog may push you away from the other person to get you moving again. In other words, he doesn't want you talking to someone else -- he wants you walking him. This is an inappropriate show of dominance. Teach your dog to sit and stay when you tell him to. If he's urging you on with a push, that means he's running the show, not you, and that makes for a lot of other behavioral problems down the road.
Three’s a Crowd
Have you ever gotten snuggled up on the couch with your sweetheart, only to have your dog jump in the middle and try to push you away from each other to make room for himself? This is another, slightly different form of attention-getting dominant behavior. Your dog wants to be number one, and even though this might seem cute when he's a puppy, allowing the behavior to continue could lead to eventual aggressive behavior toward your significant other. Go back to basic obedience training and you tell your dog where he can and can't sit.
If you've got a nervous Nellie on your hands, he might push you out of fear of unfamiliar people, places, sounds or things. In this case, it's more about your pup hiding or trying to seek cover with your body. This type of pushing might be accompanied by shivering or shaking, whining or wiggling, or even nervous peeing. If you're socializing your dog, gently encourage him to participate in whatever activity you're involved in. If your dog is fearful of another animal, pay attention to his warnings and don't force interaction.
If your dog has a hard time when you leave him, he may be pushing up against you as a way to make you stay put -- or to at least know where you are at all times. For example, he may get between you and the door and push you away to keep you from leaving. This type of behavior can manifest in destructive behavior when you’re not around, and needs to be addressed. Talk to your vet to make sure your dog doesn’t have any underlying health conditions that are prompting the behavior and start gradually weaning your dog into spending time on his own. Leave for short periods of time and give him something entertaining, like a kibble-dribbling toy or bone.
Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.