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.

 

Rhodesian Ridgeback, dogs, puppies, dog blog, pet friendly, adventure, marking our territory

 

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

Rhodesian Ridgeback, dogs, puppies, dog blog, pet friendly, adventure, marking our territory

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

Rhodesian Ridgeback, dogs, puppies, dog blog, pet friendly, adventure, marking our territory

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

Rhodesian Ridgeback, dogs, puppies, dog blog, pet friendly, adventure, marking our territory

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. When Cody got into his golden years, the only thing that got him up from his naps was the smells of food. (Sight and hearing were waning, especially sight.) But when he was a pup, my parents were early risers anyways. (My dad usually had to be at work by 4 or 5 am. And my mom was usually up near there anyways.) He was always pretty good about not making many whiny noises unless it was for a treat.

  2. As always I really enjoyed your observations and photo’s of Eko, especially when his nose is on the bed. What a character. I totally agree with you Will, Eko seems to have a Plan B and if that doesn’t work, an extensive list of tactic’s to get you up and adam. Our own goofballs wake me up with nudges and standing on my chest until I relent. It’s usually way too early.

  3. I think Walter has taken some lessons from Eko. We also have the added pleasure of the dogs waking each other up and starting up with some morning bitey face. Then we get the “oh did we wake you?” looks. Of course the last resort for the pups is to just sit on us. Can’t complain too much, you just gotta love them.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: