View Full Version : Dogs - sensory ambivalence toward


OhLookABunny
12-01-16, 03:05 PM
I'm a rabbit and cat person. My reactions to dogs, on the other hand, have been a mixed bag. Things started off badly when I was a preschooler and the neighbor's large poodle jumped up and licked my face, startling me badly. I had a dog phobia for several years. Then the kid across the street got a puppy and my curiosity overcame the phobia. Sometimes I even wanted a dog, sometimes I really enjoyed friends' dogs. And I certainly have respect for working dogs that assist law enforcement, veterans, the disabled, etc.

But in my own dealings with canines, I notice the way they smell and I find it repulsive - a combination of fishy sweat, old yeasty socks, and . . . sorry for the TMI . . . private parts. Not to mention the licking, the slobber, the poop (I could never pick up warm turds with just a plastic bag on my hand as I see dog owners doing! :eek: ).

They can be so intrusive into one's personal space, too. Different ones more so than others. Some are really clingy and others more independent - I definitely get creeped out by the clingy type.

Right now I rent a room in a house owned by someone who has a dog. And sometimes I'm okay with it and other times I just want to run away. I can't afford to get my own place so I have to just deal the best I can.

It is also hard to be this way in a society that adores dogs so strongly. I just wonder if "normal" people simply don't smell the dog smell or don't mind their space being invaded . . . there are just things I don't understand. :confused:

I have read a bunch of stuff on the internet trying to come to grips with this but so much is based on the premise that dogs are wonderful and these things that bother me are minor annoyances compared to the love a dog can give. Except that even the love is part of the problem for me, because it comes part and parcel with the sensory overload and personal space violation. It's taboo to dislike dogs in American society. I have wanted to post something like this for so long and I'm nervous right now that someone's going to think I'm a horrible person for saying how I feel. :(

TygerSan
12-01-16, 05:20 PM
It's not the canine smell that gets me. It's the bark, honestly. I do habituate somewhat, but there are barks that just set my teeth on edge.

Don't get me wrong, there are dogs that I absolute love, and I've dated people who've owned dogs (and learned to love the dogs as well as the owner), but they would not be my first choice as a pet.

Part of the problem (in my not so humble experience) is that many dogs in this country are poorly trained, if they're trained at all. Hence the personal space issue. I'm not saying that a dog is never going to invade your space, but they shouldn't jump up on strangers, for example, and the owner should be able (under most circumstances) to keep the dog under control.

I, too, was knocked over by an overly rambunctious big dog when I was little, and I've never been particularly comfortable around strange dogs. If I know and trust the owners, I'm generally better than with complete strangers. And coming across unleashed dogs . . .that is an absolute phobia of mine.

stef
12-01-16, 05:27 PM
It's kind of a relief to read this, I have some sensory issues with dogs also ( although not so much the smell) , i always feel bad about this. because i iknow how their owners adore them and what amazing pets they can be.

i was also knocked over and accidently scratched by a neighbors' daughter.s dog when i was maybe 3 or 4, neighbor just wanted to make sure i was ok and i kicked her in the stomach i think my mom was mortified!

so i was always a bit afraid of dogs and then my best friends each had poodles that barked and barked whenever the doorbell rang i was terrified of them

the thing is always still i feel so " invaded" as you say they are always coming and going and barking, with the collar jangling. but they are really beautiful animals.

BellaVita
12-01-16, 06:38 PM
There's nothing wrong with the way you are!

I am very similar to you, except about cats.

I'm very sensitive to their smell, just being in the same room a cat has been in makes me plug my nose because it starts itching immediately, my eyes hurt and get red and itchy, and I get a headache and the smell of the kitty is strong and overloads me in a bad way. I also have allergies to them in general.

And how you have issues with picking up poop, I am very repulsed by the idea of a litter box and the taking care of the litter box.

But I still like kitties and always have. I just really can't be near them. I think kittens are cute.

I don't know why I'm okay with dog smell. Maybe because I grew up with dogs and the smell comforts me. ("Wet dog smell" comforts me because when we got Bella when I was a kid the breeder just gave her a bath before we took her home, and she didn't get dry all the way. So I get a pleasant feeling inside that comforts me when I do come across that smell) Maybe because I would bathe the dog/use doggy wipes if it starts to stink.

Anyway, we are all different, please don't feel bad about the way you are. :)

OhLookABunny
12-02-16, 02:27 AM
Thanks to everyone for the understanding. I basically just need to vent once in awhile. I guess it's just so individual as far as sensory quirks go. One other thing that I forgot to mention is that with dogs, if I do touch one or it slobbers on me, I have the squicky feeling of needing to wash my hands or whatever part of me had the contact with the dog ASAP. I try to wear old clothes when I know I'm going to be interacting with the dog, too. The current dog is really different from the old one that passed away awhile back. This one I actually feel less uncomfortable with overall; it has less smell and short coat instead of long (which to me was tickly and held odor more). But it is young and rambunctious so that can be overwhelming in other ways. I'm hoping with training and maturity there will be improvement there.

I can certainly understand about the cat box! I can deal with it but kitties can make quite a stink in there. And the ones around here have a knack for timing their visits to the loo right when I'm ready to sit down to a nice meal I've prepared. :faint:

stef
12-02-16, 07:00 AM
Thanks Bella!
Actually you're one of the people I was thinking of when I posted :)
i know how much you love Loua.

Unmanagable
12-02-16, 09:00 AM
That's one of the many reasons I enjoy fur baby sitting for a couple days here and there vs. owning a pet of any kind.

And I never take dogs to dog parks or publicly owned spaces for their walks so I don't have to pick up their poo. Luckily, we live next to a forest.

There's a few things about each potential pet, not just dogs, that's just enough to keep me from taking then on full-time. I have my hands full enough with keeping self healthy and safe. lol

Fuzzy12
12-02-16, 11:42 AM
That's one of the many reasons I enjoy fur baby sitting for a couple days here and there vs. owning a pet of any kind.

And I never take dogs to dog parks or publicly owned spaces for their walks so I don't have to pick up their poo. Luckily, we live next to a forest.

There's a few things about each potential pet, not just dogs, that's just enough to keep me from taking then on full-time. I have my hands full enough with keeping self healthy and safe. lol

Don't yiu have to pick up dog poo anywhere?? I mean unless it's on property you own?? :scratch:

Unmanagable
12-02-16, 12:24 PM
Don't yiu have to pick up dog poo anywhere?? I mean unless it's on property you own?? :scratch:

I'm not up on the exact laws and expectations of dog poo retrieval since I don't own any, but I'd think it would be the respectful thing to do.

If I had a small space, I wouldn't be dog sitting. I'd have to pick it up if it was on my land and I had to see it all the time, but homey don't do that and has no plans to start. lol

The forest we live next to is our land. It was a xmas tree farm in another life. The poo goes back into the ground and does its thing along with all the other poo piles from the non-domesticated animals.

Little Missy
12-02-16, 12:44 PM
I'm not up on the exact laws and expectations of dog poo retrieval since I don't own any, but I'd think it would be the respectful thing to do.

If I had a small space, I wouldn't be dog sitting. I'd have to pick it up if it was on my land and I had to see it all the time, but homey don't do that and has no plans to start. lol

The forest we live next to is our land. It was a xmas tree farm in another life. The poo goes back into the ground and does its thing along with all the other poo piles from the non-domesticated animals.

Yep, we be the no-do-poo's.:D

20thcenturyfox
12-02-16, 07:16 PM
I was a cat person for many years before I became a dog person. And while I may have become unduly fascinated by dogs in general and their interactions with humans, I can still remember what it was like when I was either fearful of dogs or just baffled about their appeal.

You might find it strange that I share your incredulity about the adoring and indulgent way many people deal with their dogs, and express the expectation that everyone else should love them too, regardless of the behaviour of the dog or the sensibilities of the human.

In my world, people come first; dogs, by and large, must adapt--which they are highly evolved to do! They are extraordinarily sensitive to body language, facial expressions, and more complex behaviour patterns of both humans and other dogs. Why should a dog not be able to learn to keep its distance and/or ignore a person, familiar or new, who is just not keen on being close?

In a perfect world, I suppose, the owner would take care of controlling all this so you wouldn't have to do anything. And so I try to, though not always successfully. But as someone who has been involved in training dogs (including search-and-rescue canines) for about 20 years, I can tell you it is a far simpler training operation for each person to establish his or her own boundaries directly with the dog, than for the owner to try to "remote control" the dog's dealings with some-but-not-all other humans.

The problem I see over and over is that the body language humans instinctively use when they are reluctant to engage with the dog actually GRABS a dog's attention and PULLS it in for closer investigation! Children hold their hands out in the air, make squealing noises and dancing motions. Even adults pull back, or put their hands behind their back, with the unhappy but predictable result that the dog moves in for a better sniff.

Whereas generally if I wanted a dog to stay back, I would probably assume a more subtle version of the same assertive stance I use at the dog park when I see a dog charging, hard eye contact, feet apart, one slightly ahead of the other, knees slightly bent, one elbow forward, ready for impact but also ready to kick (I have never had to kick, but you can clearly see they register the potential). Not all dogs are trained to hand signals, but if you extend your arm with your flat open palm facing the dog (like a policeman) and say (authoritatively) "stay back," I will guess there are very few dogs--other than young puppies-- that will fail to get the message. (For puppies, there's a funny routine of sticking your knee out, toe on the ground, just before impact, so the jumping pup hits against your vertical calf or knee, often flipping backward onto the ground. It doesn't hurt them, and it's a way more effective lesson for the pup than the poor owner yelling "No jumping.")

You don't have to do this all perfectly, and it may not always work perfectly. But if you are interested in experimenting, I'm just making some suggestions as to how you can physically discourage any dog from approaching you by being more "assertive," slightly "unfriendly" and by "claiming the space" yourself. I suppose the odd owner will take offence, though most will probably be relieved. You can always tell them you read it on the web.

Little Missy
12-02-16, 09:40 PM
Dogs LOVE me. If I make eye contact even in passing with a dog on a leash with another person, the dog will get so excited to see me they try to turn around even to get to me. I LOVE dogs.

Strange dogs talk to me even, but those talkers will usually talk with anybody.

Cats LOVE me too. Eye contact has a cat going by along with a "hellllooooo..." makes them wheedle about and come to me.

Horses are a real interesting lot. SO many personalities. When you find a great one they tend to stick well. They smell so good. SO good.

BellaVita
12-02-16, 09:43 PM
I was a cat person for many years before I became a dog person. And while I may have become unduly fascinated by dogs in general and their interactions with humans, I can still remember what it was like when I was either fearful of dogs or just baffled about their appeal.

You might find it strange that I share your incredulity about the adoring and indulgent way many people deal with their dogs, and express the expectation that everyone else should love them too, regardless of the behaviour of the dog or the sensibilities of the human.

In my world, people come first; dogs, by and large, must adapt--which they are highly evolved to do! They are extraordinarily sensitive to body language, facial expressions, and more complex behaviour patterns of both humans and other dogs. Why should a dog not be able to learn to keep its distance and/or ignore a person, familiar or new, who is just not keen on being close?

In a perfect world, I suppose, the owner would take care of controlling all this so you wouldn't have to do anything. And so I try to, though not always successfully. But as someone who has been involved in training dogs (including search-and-rescue canines) for about 20 years, I can tell you it is a far simpler training operation for each person to establish his or her own boundaries directly with the dog, than for the owner to try to "remote control" the dog's dealings with some-but-not-all other humans.

The problem I see over and over is that the body language humans instinctively use when they are reluctant to engage with the dog actually GRABS a dog's attention and PULLS it in for closer investigation! Children hold their hands out in the air, make squealing noises and dancing motions. Even adults pull back, or put their hands behind their back, with the unhappy but predictable result that the dog moves in for a better sniff.

Whereas generally if I wanted a dog to stay back, I would probably assume a more subtle version of the same assertive stance I use at the dog park when I see a dog charging, hard eye contact, feet apart, one slightly ahead of the other, knees slightly bent, one elbow forward, ready for impact but also ready to kick (I have never had to kick, but you can clearly see they register the potential). Not all dogs are trained to hand signals, but if you extend your arm with your flat open palm facing the dog (like a policeman) and say (authoritatively) "stay back," I will guess there are very few dogs--other than young puppies-- that will fail to get the message. (For puppies, there's a funny routine of sticking your knee out, toe on the ground, just before impact, so the jumping pup hits against your vertical calf or knee, often flipping backward onto the ground. It doesn't hurt them, and it's a way more effective lesson for the pup than the poor owner yelling "No jumping.")

You don't have to do this all perfectly, and it may not always work perfectly. But if you are interested in experimenting, I'm just making some suggestions as to how you can physically discourage any dog from approaching you by being more "assertive," slightly "unfriendly" and by "claiming the space" yourself. I suppose the odd owner will take offence, though most will probably be relieved. You can always tell them you read it on the web.

This. You really "get it"! :goodpost:

Have you read Cesar Millan's books? I've learned so much from them.

20thcenturyfox
12-02-16, 11:40 PM
This. You really "get it"! :goodpost:

Have you read Cesar Millan's books? I've learned so much from them.

I figure almost anyone who starts out negotiating more personal space with dogs, will first thrill to the power they didn't know they had, but then can't fail to see how interactive and engaging most dogs are. After all, their kind have been slinking around our campfires, studying, charming, warning, guiding, and fitting in with us for tens of thousands of years.

Any bets whether Bunny will start out keeping this dog at a distance, but gradually end up falling in love?

OhLookABunny
12-03-16, 11:50 AM
I figure almost anyone who starts out negotiating more personal space with dogs, will first thrill to the power they didn't know they had, but then can't fail to see how interactive and engaging most dogs are. After all, their kind have been slinking around our campfires, studying, charming, warning, guiding, and fitting in with us for tens of thousands of years.

Any bets whether Bunny will start out keeping this dog at a distance, but gradually end up falling in love?

Regarding the falling in love part, I'd bet against you, easy money for me. :D But I do appreciate your post about training so much because it validates a lot of my approach to the dogs I've had to live with involuntarily. I know enough of basic behaviorism to be able to work my little operant conditioning, to make sure I'm not accidentally rewarding dog behaviors that I don't want to be on the receiving end of. Internet research about what makes dogs tick helps with finding out those ways in which my human signals would be read totally differently than I intend by the dog.

The trick for awhile was not letting it be too obvious to the humans who are mad about dogs. Finally I just had to come clean about my issues. I did it in stages. And since I'm a lousy actress, I don't think it came as a huge shock. It was obvious I didn't engage with the dogs as others did. Only if the social pressure was really strong, and again in those circumstances I'd be like "When can I wash?!" Apologies to dog lovers for how that sounds but it's nothing personal.

Anyway, again, I do appreciate the validation about relating to the dog on my own terms. The owners are good people and do their best to train their pets to be good canine citizens. It's just that they enjoy the affection and closeness whereas I often don't.

I have one area where I can do passably well with dogs and that's playing games like fetch where there's more distance. So I try to do stuff like that as a compromise. It's more the sharing indoor space that can be a trial. I have had to be out of my comfort zone sometimes and that's just part of getting along with other people. I'm aware that other people have to put up with some of my quirks that can be annoying, it's a give and take, I guess. :o

20thcenturyfox
12-03-16, 04:58 PM
Dynamite Alpha! Yes, you can make them "stay back." You can enforce the "no nose" rule (preferably with your knee, not your hands). Cuddling is low status, anyway. I hate to tell you, but dogs will follow you anywhere!

OhLookABunny
12-05-16, 06:07 PM
Yeah, the current one does that play seeking thing. I don't know if he is able to figure out yet that I'm not a member of his species. Is that a difference in breed, individual, or age, or do all dogs regard humans as another dog?

The dog I deal with is a "teenager" most likely - exact age unknown. Larger breed pretty much grown physically but with still a lot of puppy behaviors. Doesn't know his own strength and can be sassy and stubborn. Can also be amusing to watch. Owner is going to step up the exercise as we're dealing with a high energy breed.