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. Our dogs are “trained” not to wake us up before the alarm unless it’s a bathroom emergency. However once the smart alarm goes off there is NO snoozing. One jumps, wiggles, licks, tramples all over the bed. The other breathes, nuges the bed or stares until you get up.

    My dad used to complain all the time about how early the dog woke him up. Until one time our boxer stayed over this summer and the dogs woke him up in the middle of the night because they were hot. He turned on the a/c and went back to sleep. The dogs were so comfortable they didn’t wake him up in the am and he was late to work. Haven’t heard him complain since.

  2. They are really crafty, I think they learn all those trick at dog school (like parents school, they all say the same things). Doggy sleeps under my bed, we would crawl and drag his blanket letting me know he’s ready. If he sees me moving he would grab one of his toys and put it right on my face. Or try to hi5 my face.
    They are very resourceful.

  3. Apollo will sleep as long as I do, but Missy… She’ll pounce on Apollo and get him up, and if he’s awake obviously I have to be. Suddenly I have two cold wet noses snuffling around my ears (their go-to poke spot on me). The joy of having dogs.

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