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Canine Behavior/A behavior we've named "Face Time"

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Question
About a year ago, my family adopted a one year old female plott hound from the local humane society.  She is our second dog, and she gets along well with her "brother", a Florida Brown Dog.  She is wonderful.  She exhibits every trait the textbooks describe for her breed...  Loyalty, intelligence, strength...She is extremely protective of our house and our family, and extremely affectionate.  This is where my question comes in.  About 9 months into our ownership, she started her behavior that we now call "face time."  When I settle in for the evening (not when I come home, not while we're active having dinner, daily chores, etc.  Only when I curl onto the sofa and get settled to watch the TV, read a book, that kind of thing) she will sit right next to me, get very close, and put her face VERY close to mine.  She may give a gentle lick, but most often just sits there, very, very close.  After a few minutes, she will lay down and cuddle into me, but it always starts with "face time."  It's as if she wants to maybe feel my breath for a few minutes?    I'm no expert, of course, but it doesn't feel like she's trying to dominate me.  It actually strikes me more as submissive?  Also, for whatever it's worth, based on some other behaviors, were fairly sure that she was abused prior to our adoption.  So what is this behavior?  Am I wrong and she's simply trying to dominate me?  Is it a simple matter of vying for my attention?  Is it submissive?  Affection?  Should I be stopping it?

Answer
Educated guess (since I can't observe it and I have no idea what you have done -- and you did something (with no intention) to solicit or reward it - -  this sounds like affiliation. She is not staring you in the eye, hopefully; if she were doing this, I would ask for "sit", "down", then release.  (Never go directly from "sit" to "down", wait three to five seconds, or dog will learn to lie down on every "sit" command).  Since she doesn't appear to be attempting to stare you down (although for some dogs eye to eye contact, especially if you can see the whites in their eyes, is benign).  She loves you.  If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Canine Behavior

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Jill Connor, Ph.D.

Expertise

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.

Experience

30 years of solving serious behavior problems in domestic dogs; expert in dog to human aggression; Internet columnist for ThePetChannel.com for 5 years; former radio talk show host, WHPC.FM, Garden City, NY "Bite Back" (1995 through 2000). List owner, international animal behavior experts, K9Shrinks@egroups.com. 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.

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

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

Education/Credentials
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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