My other two dogs are 7 and 15 pounds, respectively; I got a dog that weighs 55 pounds seven months ago, and he has this strange tendency of approaching males, pushing his head between their legs, and standing there. My boys’ frequent visits are tolerated since we find it amusing. But he makes an effort to do so with any guy he even remotely considers romantically interested. This guy simply strolled up to me and placed his head between my legs as I was chatting to a man from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals at a canine event today. The guy laughed and petted him, which was nice, but what is wrong with my dog? We rescued him from Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. He seems to have had a family in the past despite having been on the streets for some time before being rescued. Is he not getting it?
—Thigh’s the Limit
I’m Writing to You Because Your Thighs Are the Limit
Think about attempting to teach a dog the concept of tact. I mean, they’re social creatures and all, but walking the fine edge of social norms is probably a little above their abilities. While I type this, my dog is snoring loudly and unapologetically on the floor next to me. The best part is that I’m certain she wouldn’t change a thing even if the queen of England were sitting next to her on the sofa instead of me. A dog makes up for his lack of subtlety with an endearingly brash candor.
The news of your new addition to the family has made my day. It seems like you’ve provided him a wonderful place to live, and he seems to be settling in well, if “fitting in” can mean anything from the distance between a man’s legs. Whether it was exhilaration or fear, the behavior you described is not unusual. A dog that is frightened could attempt to “hide” in a place he feels is secure. The previous year has been a turbulent one for both you and your dog, and the latter may be feeling the effects of the upheaval in the form of anxiety. It’s important to let your vet know about this, particularly if he’s displaying other indications of worry since there are methods to assist calm his worries if that turns out to be the case.
All right, let’s go back to subtlety. In your letter, you and your boys joke about how amusing it is when the dog tries to sneak up between their legs. I have no doubt that it is funny, but I worry that if you laugh at home when he does it, he will be more likely to do it in public. If he receives positive reinforcement from his friends when he uses their legs as a croquet wicket, he could think the same of a complete stranger. There is a difference, but I doubt you could convince him of it.
Instruct your boys to ignore the dog when he attempts to squeeze between their legs the next time he visits. You (or your boys) should also distract him by giving a command, such as “sit,” “lay down,” or whatever else you’ve practiced with him. This will divert his attention away from the thrilling rendezvous he’s planned between their knees and onto something you have more control over. When the dog approaches others with the same enthusiasm, you may take that pattern outdoors.
It warms my heart to know that your dog is kind and sociable. You’ve been like a second family to him ever since you adopted him. Not that I see anything he’s missing. He is completely self-sufficient.