Hanging out with your favorite four-legged fur ball is plenty of people’s preferred way to pass their time. And, well, why wouldn’t it be? Dogs were pretty much made to be the perfect human companion! Hello? Man’s best friend?
They can also be super fun to be around, not to mention how loyal they are. However, it can sometimes be hard to read some of their strange behavior. Such as when Fido chooses to sit facing away from you. There can be many different meanings and ways to interpret this gesture. So, why does my dog sit facing away from me?
When your dog sits facing away from you, it signals the complete trust he has for you. He may also be trying to avoid eye contact as this is a sign of dominance in the canine world. By having his mouth and teeth as far away from you means he’s showing his vulnerabilities to you.
In order to understand the exact reason, or at least narrow it down, you would have to take in the entire situation, including knowing what is going on in the environment and the distinctive personality of your dog.
Is there somebody new or unknown (to the dog) in the household? Has the dog been disciplined or scolded by you recently? Does he typically have a shy or offish temperament? There is a multitude of possible reasons for this particular behavior, and today, we will discuss the most common ones.
Why Does My Dog Sit Facing Away From Me?
08. He Is Showing His Vulnerability
One of the most meaningful messages being conveyed by this action is that he is comfortable enough to expose his vulnerabilities to you. A dog’s most effective weapon is their bite and by moving his mouth far away from you, it shows that he does not see you as, or consider you, a threat. No matter what the reason, feeling safe enough to turn his back to you is a testament to the loving relationship that the two of you share.
07. Uncomfortable With Eye Contact
Some dogs just tend to be a bit uncomfortable with eye contact, period, even if they still enjoy being petted and hanging out with their favorite human. This is also a normal doggy response to a person that they do not know very well. They will happily sit beside them, albeit with their backs to them, but will avoid making actual eye contact.
06. It’s A Personality Trait
While being uncomfortable in a situation can often be the cause of the back displaying-behavior, sometimes it just happens to be a personal doggy preference. Some dogs do not care for face to face situations or contact at all and simply feel more comfortable with their back facing you. In this case, it is a personality trait that can be hard to change, although building trust and working towards a stronger bond may help.
05. Showing Complete Trust
As stated earlier, when a dog sits with his back facing you, it is an absolute show of vulnerability. By doing this, it means that he completely, wholly, and 100 percent trusts you. It says that he has total reliance on the belief that you are dependable, caring and trustworthy. While it might not be the ultimate reason for why your dog sits facing away from you, you can take comfort in the fact that he would not be doing it all without having complete and utter confidence in you.
04. He Is On Guard
One of a dog’s main purposes in life is to protect his family or his ‘pack’. It is in his nature. By putting himself at the frontline of any perceived danger (so to speak), he is doing just that, giving in to his animal instincts and protecting his territory. If your dog suddenly gets up and sits with his back to you, it could be a warning that he is sensing that something is off and believes that he is needed to protect you.
03. He Is In Need Of A Massage
A good deep tissue massage feels good and your precious pooch is likely no exception. Usually, due to previous interactions, your dog knows that by presenting his back to you, it is likely going to be scratched, petted, or massaged. This could very well be Fido’s way of asking for a massage, especially if he’s already received one this specific way before.
02. Seeking Some Cuddle/Belly Rub Hybrid Action
You know that hug you give your dog that also incorporates a bit of belly rubbing? Yeah, we call that lovable move a cuddle/belly rub hybrid and chances are that your pooch knows that by sitting in this position it will greatly increase his odds of getting some of that feel-good action. Since canines learn primarily through conditioning, he has been taught that sitting with his back to you, it puts him in the perfect place for his favorite embrace.
01. The Doggy Version Of ‘Giving The Cold Shoulder’
Yep, this could be your dog’s way of letting you know that he is unhappy with something you have said or done. Considering he can’t verbalize his opinion, he figures that the turned-back and lack of eye contact will do the speaking for him. This is especially true if your canine companion normally sits with, on, or facing you. By changing his behavior he is letting it be known that something is up.
Should The Behavior Be Encouraged?
So, should the behavior be encouraged?
The short answer? Absolutely.
Dogs are not able to vocalize their needs, wants, or feelings. Every behavior or action taken by them has some purpose behind it. Animals have limited capabilities to express themselves and by discouraging this particular behavior you run the risk of teaching him to avoid using body language to communicate with you.
How Do I Get Him To Stop It?
While reconditioning is possible, it is not easy, and it certainly cannot be done without knowing the real, fundamental cause of the behavior. Whatever the reason might be will decide what course to take to effectively break the habit.
If he is sitting facing away from you because he feels the need to protect his pack then you need to remove the perceived threat. Using treats, praise, and positive reinforcement can help to speed up the reconditioning process. You want him to associate any face-to-face time with something positive.
When To Be Concerned
Granted, the majority of the time that your dog puts his back to you it is in response to something, whether it be, a possible danger, unfamiliar people, or hurt feelings.
Rarely, it can possibly be an indication of something else such as the initial onset of dementia or another previously unknown, underlying medical condition. If this behavior seems to be out of the ordinary or if your dog is experiencing any other symptoms, it might be a good idea to bring him to see the veterinarian.
Signs to keep an eye out for:
- Growling, barking, or whimpering at seemingly nothing
- Prolonged staring at inanimate objects (ie: staring blankly at the wall)
- Behavioral and/or mood changes (aggression, fear, unexplained nervousness)
- Inability to recognize well-known people, places, or things
- Cataracts (hazy, bluish, cloudiness in the eye(s))
Fido’s Bonus Booty Fact
If your precocious pooch not only sits with his back facing you but also actually sits on you, believe it or not, it could very well be his unique way of claiming you as his own. By placing their bum on you, your dog is effectively marking you with his scent.
There is a very good reason that dogs make such great companions (well, there are quite a few really). They are very individualized, more so than many other pets, and no two puppy personalities are completely alike.
Whatever the action or behavior might be, the reason behind it is likely going to differ from dog to dog as well as from situation to situation. They are incredibly intelligent creatures and they usually have a purpose to what they do.
Determining what, exactly that purpose could be, is the tricky part. The best way to decipher your dog’s body language and personality quirks is by getting to know his unique character.
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