Can Dogs Be Passive-Aggressive?

We’re all familiar with the phrase, “Let sleeping dogs lie.”  In fact, most of us practice it on a daily basis.

 

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When Eko is snoozing, I let him enjoy the nap while I enjoy the quiet

However, in the dog community there is no saying, “Let sleeping humans lie.”  In fact, the motto seems to be, “Wake the humans up as soon as possible.”  Over the years however, Eko has learned that poking my face with his nose doesn’t always make for a happy morning.  I’ll sternly tell him to get back to his bed and I try to catch a few more precious bits of shut eye.

Dogs understand direct consequences perfectly: If A then B.  It’s how dogs learn to understand and communicate with us. (If I sit down then I get this treat)  But I am also suspicious that dogs very well understand secondary consequences: If A then B, but also C.  In the case of our (weekend) morning routine Eko seems to fully grasp that I poke Will in the face then he will wake up but also he will be grumpy.

So here is his problem.  Eko wants to wake up, but how can he do that without the secondary consequence of making me grumpy?  Oh, let me count the ways!

1. The fitful sleeper

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Eko will turn and turn on his bed, scratch his blanket and make lots of muffled sounds.  If I look over my bed, he looks up like “Oh, I was still trying to sleep, but I see you are awake so we might as well get up.”

2. Bed relocation

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Eko will toss his blanket off the bed and then loudly flop somewhere else on the floor.  When I look up to see what that “thud” noise was, Eko pops up ready for the day

3. The sleeper-hold

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If I am extra tired I will let Eko up on the bed for a short time in the morning.  To get me up he will fall asleep on my leg, and I wake up to pins and needles

4. Dragon’s Breath

Rhodesian Ridgeback, dogs, puppies, dog blog, pet friendly, adventure, marking our territoryEko’s last resort before resorting to a poke is putting his face directly next to mine and breathing deeply until his deep exhales rouse me awake

As a kid, I used a lot of these same passive-aggressive tactics to wake up my older siblings when I wanted to play.  It seems that Eko, like I once did, hides behind the defense, “Hey, I didn’t wake you up – you just happened to wake up while I was doing something else!  Therefore you can’t be upset at me.”

Eko’s sneaky behavior also seems to imply that he also understands the difference between using direct actions and indirect actions to achieve a desired result.

So what do you think, am I reading too much into Eko’s behavior or is he as crafty as I think he is?  In the end, I’m not sure it matters because there is no doubt his techniques work!

44 thoughts on “Can Dogs Be Passive-Aggressive?”

  1. I think Eko is very smart! Me and Nalle don’t wake Mama though. We wait until she gets up and says “Good Morning!” She is Alphamama! Wooooowoooooooo!

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  2. I think you are spot on Will – I know #2 very well, except my pet is a cat! Our animal companions can read us just as easy as we read books – when the relationship is close and the rules clearly defined, they get it and they work out how to get round it. Clever Eko!! 🙂

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  3. Love the thinking Elko. Making both mum & I laugh… As I have just jumped up on the bed and pawing mum to get her up for our walk. Take it as a good thing. Don’t need an alarm clock and get out of bed and go for a run/walk and you don’t need a personal trainer to motivate you… See Elko is helping to save money.

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  4. i get the nose poke from Muffin and if that doesn’t work then she plops her giant paw on my shoulder and if that doesn’t work she plops it on my head. Rigby just licks my face until i get up and whines a little at the same time – “sort of saying – hey Mom i got to pee”! They get me up regardless but i try not to be too grumpy!

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