Clover… and the family

When we started working with Paula, Clover had the habit of licking us all rather frequently and frantically. We thought at the time she was just a licky dog and discussed this with Paula as something we wanted to get a better handle on. Paula explained how the licking behavior was actually associated with Clover’s generally high anxiety and use of appeasement behaviors with us (vs more genuine affection and friendliness).We started with refraining from all touch with Clover unless she asked for it. At first, Clover did not ask for any affection, even after we could see she knew how to ask (by softly pawing at us). We started to wonder if she was a dog who just didn’t want much affection. Maybe a month or two after little to no petting, she started to ask to be pet. We would pet her and then stop, giving her the option to ask for more if she wanted it and allowing her to walk away when she chose. Over time, her interest in being pet increased, at the same time as the licking decreased. About a year into working w Paula, we have a super cuddly and sweet dog who initiates a lot of affection (to the point we have had to teach her the cue “not right now” when we are the ones not ready for petting!). The licking is occasional and without the franticness. It comes as little hello kisses and she stops when we ask her to. She seeks out closeness with us in a way that is much more genuine, at ease, and natural for us all. It’s been really sweet to see her feel comfort and safety in our presence that wasn’t there before (without us even realizing it).