Lean on Me....

Posted by Pia

Ever wonder what your four-leggers are feeling or trying to tell you? If you are anything like me, you are constantly trying to decode the inner psyche of your furry children. Many of my critters tend to lay back to back or sleep leaning on one another. Sometimes they even sleep tushy-to-tushy as I like to call it. I recently learned what this typically means...

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Laying back to back is an effort by dogs to be close and bond with one another.

1 Laying back to back is an effort by dogs to be close and bond with one another.

A dog resting their back up to or against you or another dog is a way of showing love and affection.

2 A dog resting their back up to or against you or another dog is a way of showing love and affection.

I suspect it is also a way in which they show affection for their feline friends as well!

3 I suspect it is also a way in which they show affection for their feline friends as well!

The 3-legged Ms. Olive seems to appreciate Pickles display of trust and affection!

4 The 3-legged Ms. Olive seems to appreciate Pickles display of trust and affection!

And when a dog leans their back or tushy against you, they are likely wanting to bond with you!

5 And when a dog leans their back or tushy against you, they are likely wanting to bond with you!

It appears there's a whole lot of affection and bonding going on for these cuties!

6 It appears there's a whole lot of affection and bonding going on for these cuties!

This little Yin-Yang display of doggie bonding is quite sweet

7 This little Yin-Yang display of doggie bonding is quite sweet

Being close, leaning on one another and wanting to trust is clearly a longing shared by many in the animal kingdom!

8 Being close, leaning on one another and wanting to trust is clearly a longing shared by many in the animal kingdom!

In as much as species and individuals vary between one another, the actions that convey certain feelings also vary. I find it especially interesting when a behavior in fact conveys something totally opposite to what one might think. But as with most things, if I step put of my own world view- both as an individual and as a human- I can begin to conceive of another perspective.

Last week I spoke about how honored I feel when a newly rescued animal feels trusting enough to relax and falls asleep in my presence. I suspect an animal showing their wish to bond and be close to you, or another animal, by way of pressing their back up against you is similar in many ways. It is not to turn away from you as a fellow human might do in anger, but rather as a communication of trust. To want to be close and touching is bonding in and of itself, but I guess to allow oneself to be vulnerable by having their back turned in such close proximity to you is its own little way of saying 'I feel safe in your presence and wish to be close.'

Pretty neat...

In kinship,
Dr. Pia Salk

Comments (11)

  • This was a fascinating post and I read it with no leg room!! Cat and Dog asleep on my feet!! Why is it no matter how big the bed is I never have room? There is nothing as wonderful as a cold winter day reading with lots of furriy bodies touching me. Thanks for this post, it is blissful.

  • Great post, keep posting. Thank you for your article, really used. Very nice blog will comeback again.

  • Great post, most of the photos that I have of of our crazy critters in sleep, with us or on top fo each other, makes us look like a lazy household, NOT!!! When I go to put the dogs out in the morning, the cats follow behind as if to watch over them. T.

  • Hello Dr. Pia,
    I have a big thick coat as I am a chow. I have all kinds of puppies and dogs that come and lay against me. Frenchies, shar pei's, you name it, they come. You call it bonding, but I think they just want to get warm. Although I am a babe magnet so maybe they do want to bond with me and keep warm. At any rate, thank you for the info.
    Maddox

  • Hi Dr. Pia,
    I wish I had a way to show you all my photos of me and Tasha and also with Sage, another lab Mom and Dad had. We all would cuddle together. A lot of fun. Mom thinks it was to keep warm, but me, I liked being close to my buddies. You are the best, Dr.Pia. Thanks for the post today and always. Have a safe and good Memorial Day.
    Love & licks,
    Basil

  • Hello ladies, Kirby here.
    And hello to you too Dr. Pia. I have to agree with Maddox, we’re both a “babe” magnet as well as a place to get warm. Now if you really want to know what your dog thinks of you (human), place your self on all fours and see if your dog comes up under one of your arms and rubs against your face. If your dog does this, it really thinks you are the leader of the pack. Wild dogs, such as wolves, do this to the ones they think are above them within the pack.
    Catch you later, Kirby.

  • dr Pia, I am amazed what my guys tell me.Being a breeder we call sleeping together a puppy pile! Also they can tell you about your health! My girls went through 2 years of not always getting pregnant when bred .when checked by the vet there was no problem.Meanwhile I wasn't feeling so well so it was ok. I got sicker they ate less and bred less,finally I went to the doctor and they found bladder cancer. I recently read an article that said some dogs can smell bladder cancer.Now that I'm being treated ,much to my dismay we have had an explosion of pups . During my good days of chemo they eat me out of house and home,so never underestimate what your dog is saying

  • Hi Dr. Pia, Thanks again for a charming blog post and these darling photos! I have found that animals who grow up together love each other and sleep very close to each other to get warmth and be safe. Of course, mine have always slept very close to me, also. When I had 3 dogs, the smallest one slept by my head, the oldest one slept near my stomach, and the biggest one slept by my feet. When the oldest one went to heaven, the other 2 stayed in their same spots. Hope you have another terrific week! Jan

  • Hi Dr. Pia,
    I like to share a chair with my Mimi or Papa. I am allowed on the furniture (on a blanket). I think I'm a big, brave guy, but I'm really little and like to cuddle especially when it is storming outside.
    Hasta luego,
    Senor Rebel

  • Glad that you splained that to the hoomans. I myself always like to sleep with my Mom. I protect her.

    woo woos, Tessa

  • Oh another great article with absolutely wonderful photos...

    my feral Kitty is not a lap cat but occasionally when she spends the night in the house during a storm, she sleeps curled up in the bend of my legs...I just love it!

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