Saturday, October 24, 2015

Viva learning about touch

I would say that Viva is sensitive touch.  We began to realize this after about a week of her being with us.  She would come over for touch but, would soon growl if we touched her for too long.  So, when this would happen we would stop touching her. Seems obvious to just stop touching her but, a lot of dog bites happen because people push the dog, leaving them no option but to use their teeth.  Viva wasn't growling to "hurt our feelings" or to "be dominant".  She was growling out of fear/lack of feeling safe.  A big part of Viva beginning to trust us when we would touch her, was her figuring out that she controls when she is touched.  Dogs give us a range signals when it comes to touch and we humans often ignore or just don't read dog body language.  Dogs are not humans and a hug or getting in their face to give them a kiss is often not enjoyable for them.  

So, with Viva we wait for her to ask for touch and then we touch her (not pet her) in different ways. I owe a lot of my education around touch to Lori Stevens who is a Senior Tellington TTouch practitioner.  Lori helped us with D'light who was very touch sensitive back when he was in foster care with us.

Viva staring and I ask her if she wants up by patting my leg.  If she didn't take the invite that was just fine by me.  It took a while for her to feel safe enough to come up for touches. Viva does like people once she trusts them so, it's building that trust to help her see that ongoing touch can be enjoyable for her.

Here is a great article Training with trust

"I'm up here..."

I use the back of my hand to gentle and slowly stroke her chest.  
I also keep my face and body from moving into her space.  Giving her this distance is important.

She likes this slow stroking  The back of my hand applies less pressure than the front of my hand.

Viva can disengage at any point - she has compete control in this situation.

I stop touching her to see what she wants next.

"More please!"

Viva feels the same way about foster dad

Back of the hand neck touches

Gentle ear strokes

Soft touches under her chin

Sweet girl trusting that touch is a great thing!


  1. Lovely Viva! Thanks for the video clip about touch. One of ours is the king of mixed signals, and some of her tips are really good. I'm also going to try touch with the back of the hand...I noticed you use that in some of your videos, too.

    1. Excellent and I really like that video! I do use the back of my and long slow strokes down the spine and side of the body. I'm going to do more posts about touch so stay tuned!