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Canine Behavior/Dog Smiling?


My 90 lb Rottie/Shep (Scrapper) is the best dog I've ever owned but he does something that puzzles me.  Whenever I sit on the floor next to him he rolls over on his back so I can rub his chest and stomach, then begins whimpering/groaning.  Then he opens his mouth, showing all his teeth as if smiling.  Is this an indication of pleasure or displeasure?

Do not rub this dog's belly on demand.

I cannot SEE what he is doing.  The whimpering/groaning I don't much like.  Because a dog rolls over this does NOT mean it is an open invitation.  In fact, in the dog culture, a roll over is a show of complete submission and when it occurs the opposing party LEAVES.  Many dogs, of course, seem to like/enjoy a tummy rub; this is our subjective opinion, however, since we don't know what the dog is actually thinking or reacting to.

When your dog rolls over, turn your back or get up and walk away.  Meanwhile, if he has been taught with positive reinforcement to "sit" for reward and does it EVERY TIME he's asked, put him on a modified Nothing In Life Is Free program: make him "sit" to be let out (or taken out, you go out the door first); make him "sit" as you put his food down; make him "sit" randomly throughout the day (casually) for a scratch on the CHEST and a praise reward.

Canine Behavior

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Jill Connor, Ph.D.


I have spent my entire professional life rehabilitating the behavior of the domestic dog and I can answer any question regarding any behavior problem in any breed dog. I have answered more than 5,000 QUESTIONS on this site in the past (almost) eight years. If you are a caring, committed owner and need advice, I'm here for you. I am personally acquainted with my colleagues (Turid Rugaas, Ian Dunbar, etc.) who were members of an elite group in EGroups that I founded: K9Shrinks. THERE ARE NO QUICK FIXES for serious behavioral issues; not only is it unprofessional to offer same, it is also unethical. IF I ASK YOU SUBSEQUENT QUESTIONS, I NEED YOU TO INTERACT WITH ME. More information equals more credible answers and a more successful outcome. If you want ANSWERS THAT WORK, participate in any way I request. I'm quite committed to working on this site for YOUR benefit and the benefit of YOUR DOG. Help me in any way you can.


30 years of solving serious behavior problems in domestic dogs; expert in dog to human aggression; Internet columnist for for 5 years; former radio talk show host, WHPC.FM, Garden City, NY "Bite Back" (1995 through 2000). List owner, international animal behavior experts, Seminar leader: "Operant Conditioning and Learning"; "Aggression in The Domestic Dog"; "Solving Problem Behaviors" -- conducted for various training facilities on Long Island from 1993 through 2000. Former clinical director of "Behavioral Abnormalities" in conjunction with Mark Beckerman, DVM, Hempstead, New York.

Member, APDT (UK); Psychologists in Ethical Treatment with Animals

Harcourt Brace Learning Direct: "The Business of Dog Training" "The Fail Safe Dog: Brain Training, not Pain Training"

Ph.D., UC Berkeley

Past/Present Clients
Board of Directors: Northeast Dog Rescue Connection; The Dog Project; Sav-A-Dog Foundation; etc. Pro Bono counselor: Little Shelter Humane Society My practice is presently limited to forensics. I diagnose cause of dog bite, based upon testimony before the Court, for attorneys and insurance companies litigating dog bites, including fatal injuries. I also do pro bono work for bona fide rescue organizations, humane societies, et al, regarding such analysis in an effort to obtain release for dogs being held for death in municipal shelters in the US.

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