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Peggy Sue, Standard Poodle Born May 2019
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I can’t figure out what Peggy is doing in these moments, but maybe you can. (And feel free to share to share your own “What is my poodle doing??” questions for us to puzzle over.)

So I take a lot of baths, and Peggy’s spot while I bathe is stretched out right next to the tub. Every once in a while she’ll hear something that causes her to alert with a single, very sharp bark. Just now it was my husband bumping something while he vacuums the living room.

She’ll then stand up and stare at the closed bathroom door for a second, maybe with a little growl, at which point I say something like, “Thank you, Peggy. It’s okay. That was just your friend making some noise.”

This is when the confusing part happens: She then comes nose-to-nose with me and gives my mouth an exploratory sniff. Sometimes she’ll lick it. Then she lays down with a groan and falls back to sleep.

Poodle Forum, WHAT is she doing? This is the only time I can think of that she investigates my mouth like this.

Maybe you recognize this behaviour from your protection dog experience, @dogsavvy?
 

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Mia, Christmas in June 2010
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Mia's done that to me, though I've never had a reliable trigger for the behavior, so here's my stab in the dark: After young puppyhood, dogs generally lick another dog's muzzle as a sign of respect or appeasement. My guess is that it's a calming signal of some sort, perhaps meaning that she's following your cue, or that she is relaxing. The sniff may even be her way of detecting whether you're truly calm.
 

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Peggy Sue, Standard Poodle Born May 2019
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
It’s so sweet and gentle. I definitely feel like I’m being treated like a dog.

When a similar scenario plays out while I’m not in the bath (i.e. at poodle-level), the mouth sniff/lick is replaced with a good shake of her whole body, which has always appeared to me to be a release of tension.
 

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I know exactly what you're talking about. Happy engages in same gentle muzzle to mouth and little licks too - usually after I've been away for a while or when she comes in from a longer time outside. Sometime it comes out of the blu. I take it as a sign of affection. It doesn't come from excitment. I also think this behavior might be a Poodle thing as i've never expereinced it with any other dog. I think there's something going on with your bath dynamic that reminds Peggy she loves you.
 

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Peggy Sue, Standard Poodle Born May 2019
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
That's a good point. I've seen my dogs sniff each other as if to ask "what's wrong?" or say "it's ok" when one is upset.
That’s exactly what it’s like! I’ve been Peggy creep towards one of her friends to do this after he guards a stick from her. I always get nervous and want to jump in and say “No! Don’t!” But it’s always well-received.

This is an adorable explanation:


I like to think Peggy sees me as “a highly esteemed peer.” Lol.
 

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Peggy Sue, Standard Poodle Born May 2019
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I think there's something going on with your bath dynamic that reminds Peggy she loves you.
Aw. That’s so cute. She does seem to take her role as protector very seriously when I’m in there. Maybe she senses how vulnerable a bathing human is.
 

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Okay, I have one. You're laying in bed, on the couch, or stretching on the floor. You hear your poodle start to sniff around. You're not moving, they are getting closer. The sound of the sniffing intensifies until their nose is right in your ear. Suddenly the sniffing stops. Lick A wet tongue tastes your ear.

I usally ask Basil, "how did it taste?" Then, I go grab a towel to wipe my ear out.

Is this just a cleaning behavior?
 

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Mia, Christmas in June 2010
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Mia is an avowed ear licker, @Basil_the_Spoo , and boy can she get in there with her tongue. Whoever is in the passenger seat basically has a target on their ears.

I suspect mutual grooming is as much a bonding experience for dogs as it is for apes.
 

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@PeggyTheParti Loki does the same thing with us every time we sneeze or cough. Sometimes he ends with a nose boop to my hand or knee. To me, it always seems like he's checking to make sure we're OK after making such loud, weird sounds.

@Basil_the_Spoo Perhaps your ears smell especially interesting? Or maybe it's a gentle "hi, excuse me, attention please"?
 

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Okay, I have one. You're laying in bed, on the couch, or stretching on the floor. You hear your poodle start to sniff around. You're not moving, they are getting closer. The sound of the sniffing intensifies until their nose is right in your ear. Suddenly the sniffing stops. Lick A wet tongue tastes your ear.

I usally ask Basil, "how did it taste?" Then, I go grab a towel to wipe my ear out.

Is this just a cleaning behavior?
I don’t want to gross you out but dogs are attracted by smelly bodily discharges. I’m sure you’re a clean person, but there’s always a bit of ear wax in there and your dog likes it... That’s how they clean themselves and she’s doing it to you too. :)
 

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I don’t want to gross you out but dogs are attracted by smelly bodily discharges. I’m sure you’re a clean person, but there’s always a bit of ear wax in there and your dog likes it... That’s how they clean themselves and she’s doing it to you too. :)
Lucy van Pelt:
I oughta slug you. Ugh! I've been kissed by a dog! I have dog germs! Get hot water! Get some disinfected! Get some Iodine!
 

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So helpful Peggy and Basil.

I wish I had a poodle translator most days!

I swear sometimes he speaks English, always huffs/scoffs with perfect timing when we talk about him. I just wish I knew what he was saying back!

Our 3 year old gets concerned about human physical contact sometimes. Hugging or kissing humans seem to be cause for grave concern. Our guy will get up from whatever he is doing and quietly creep over on the tippiest of tippy toes, and stand close with stressed body language until the kissing/hugging stops. Or if it’s a seated kiss he will sit very close and move in between at his earliest opportunity. I wonder what he is thinking in these moments, how is he interpreting what’s happening, does he think it’s a negative interaction?
 

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Dogs are like snowflakes, each are unique but they carry the similarity that most are very subtle communicators. From the time I was a kid, I started out bonding with my pups in the Indian way (Native American). You put your nose to the pup's nose & share breath. Did the same with horses. If a horse puts their nose to yours (unasked, without any attempt to prompt it) & shares breath with you, this is a high compliment & has significance in your relationship. They do this with each other in the herd. Over the years I have noticed my personal dogs all do this without me making any effort or attempt to 'teach' it but it's something I've always done. Take very great care in attempting this with an adult dog as some take high offense to this. My husband about got his nose broke by my Giant. He was playing with her & because she has brows, people tend to sort of go 'poof' to get the hair from her eyes (black dog, deep dark brown eyes I guess they think they'll see her eyes better). One POOF & she will bonk with her nose. She's not aggressive but it's like it hits her crazy button & my husband now will be away from her & say "poof" & she'll start barking & bouncing & it's GAME ON. I can blow the hair out of her eyes & poof her but I'm very slow & deliberate & she knows its coming & I'm her personal human & I can do anything... others cannot :) But there are many adult dogs (or super alpha puppies) who take this extremely offensively & want to snap over it. But it is a lovely bonding tool & trust. You gotta trust the dog to allow such interaction.

Peggy is definitely protecting while you're in a vulnerable position. "Good watch, Peggy!" When she returns she is doing something similar to what humans do with each other when there has been something scary, threatening, bad happens... you check everyone in the room. "Is everyone alright?" "It's okay, I got it?" "Are you sure you're okay?" (the question is dependent on the situation) but it's a similar sentiment. I'm better with examples so: I was in line once with a big dude behind me was armed (at that time no one had heard of concealed carry of a firearm) & he was acting nervous. It was like 10 degrees outside, cold in the store yet sweat was pouring off him). I wasn't the only one who saw the gun. I am the only one close enough or whatever enough to speak to the man, to try to be the cooler before anything happened. I glanced over my shoulder & smiled. His eyes were darting all around & I spoke with him, told him I knew about the gun... but it's okay, & did he know about all the cameras? It'd be really bad if you tried something since everyone knows what he looked like & I would be best if he just paid for his stuff & got out while no crime had been committed. I mean, c'mon, if we called what would we say? A guy in Wal Mart was sweating? So I laughed softly & assured him it was all going to be okay. Just go on about his business & all was well. He handed me his bag of fritos & his little jug of milk & left. The first thing I did was check on everyone whom I could tell knew something dangerous was afoot. "Are you okay?" to a woman who had tears rolling down her face & was 3 shades past ghost white, "ma'am, can you speak to me? It's all okay now. You're safe, he's gone." To the big kid who was locked in that spot in his mind where he was about to do something stupid but doing nothing was wrong too I said, "Thanks for having our backs, son. You can relax. It's all good." His knees almost buckled but he did okay. (The man was apprehended as we were the 4th report that had come in. Apparently he had a grievance with the store & I would say it caused a psychotic break). He had no history of violence. Sad) But this is what you're seeing in your dog.
In the many years of handling guardian dogs, this is my read on that check-in the really good ones do with their humans when something they perceive as a possible threat has happened. I've had personal dogs who have literally walked up me (if I was sitting down) checking me over like a mother checks a puppy that squeaked or they nearly pummel you to pieces licking & puppy-high-fiving you :)

Mr. Layne is a bit unique. He has started of late coming up & volunteering to share breath with me especially since the attempted criminal breach of our home. But he is unique. He is an eye-contact dog. He's so intense at this that he'll almost pinch or snip at another dog for bumping into him, trying to distract him, or blocking him. Very intense eye contact. It's like a laser with those eyes & like he's scanning me head to toe. It's been a good many years since I've had a dog like this. When he's satisfies with what he 'reads' he then does a perimeter check in the room or house & then returns, then he wants touch. If I'm sitting where he can, he will come up & bump my chin with his nose or touch my nose with his. He's gentle with this. At first I thought he was asking for his nose smooch but this is more like what Peggy does to you but there is a sequence & process with Mr. Layne. My dogs are a far too perfect gauge on my moods, feelings, health, etc... so the brats tattle on me if you know me well enough ;) But there is no question he's reading me. I hold the eye contact & sometimes will say something & sometimes we just admire each other for a long while... then after his check.. touch. Then he's all happy & goofy again
 

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Peggy Sue, Standard Poodle Born May 2019
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Dogs are like snowflakes, each are unique but they carry the similarity that most are very subtle communicators. From the time I was a kid, I started out bonding with my pups in the Indian way (Native American). You put your nose to the pup's nose & share breath. Did the same with horses. If a horse puts their nose to yours (unasked, without any attempt to prompt it) & shares breath with you, this is a high compliment & has significance in your relationship. They do this with each other in the herd. Over the years I have noticed my personal dogs all do this without me making any effort or attempt to 'teach' it but it's something I've always done. Take very great care in attempting this with an adult dog as some take high offense to this. My husband about got his nose broke by my Giant. He was playing with her & because she has brows, people tend to sort of go 'poof' to get the hair from her eyes (black dog, deep dark brown eyes I guess they think they'll see her eyes better). One POOF & she will bonk with her nose. She's not aggressive but it's like it hits her crazy button & my husband now will be away from her & say "poof" & she'll start barking & bouncing & it's GAME ON. I can blow the hair out of her eyes & poof her but I'm very slow & deliberate & she knows its coming & I'm her personal human & I can do anything... others cannot :) But there are many adult dogs (or super alpha puppies) who take this extremely offensively & want to snap over it. But it is a lovely bonding tool & trust. You gotta trust the dog to allow such interaction.

Peggy is definitely protecting while you're in a vulnerable position. "Good watch, Peggy!" When she returns she is doing something similar to what humans do with each other when there has been something scary, threatening, bad happens... you check everyone in the room. "Is everyone alright?" "It's okay, I got it?" "Are you sure you're okay?" (the question is dependent on the situation) but it's a similar sentiment. I'm better with examples so: I was in line once with a big dude behind me was armed (at that time no one had heard of concealed carry of a firearm) & he was acting nervous. It was like 10 degrees outside, cold in the store yet sweat was pouring off him). I wasn't the only one who saw the gun. I am the only one close enough or whatever enough to speak to the man, to try to be the cooler before anything happened. I glanced over my shoulder & smiled. His eyes were darting all around & I spoke with him, told him I knew about the gun... but it's okay, & did he know about all the cameras? It'd be really bad if you tried something since everyone knows what he looked like & I would be best if he just paid for his stuff & got out while no crime had been committed. I mean, c'mon, if we called what would we say? A guy in Wal Mart was sweating? So I laughed softly & assured him it was all going to be okay. Just go on about his business & all was well. He handed me his bag of fritos & his little jug of milk & left. The first thing I did was check on everyone whom I could tell knew something dangerous was afoot. "Are you okay?" to a woman who had tears rolling down her face & was 3 shades past ghost white, "ma'am, can you speak to me? It's all okay now. You're safe, he's gone." To the big kid who was locked in that spot in his mind where he was about to do something stupid but doing nothing was wrong too I said, "Thanks for having our backs, son. You can relax. It's all good." His knees almost buckled but he did okay. (The man was apprehended as we were the 4th report that had come in. Apparently he had a grievance with the store & I would say it caused a psychotic break). He had no history of violence. Sad) But this is what you're seeing in your dog.
In the many years of handling guardian dogs, this is my read on that check-in the really good ones do with their humans when something they perceive as a possible threat has happened. I've had personal dogs who have literally walked up me (if I was sitting down) checking me over like a mother checks a puppy that squeaked or they nearly pummel you to pieces licking & puppy-high-fiving you :)

Mr. Layne is a bit unique. He has started of late coming up & volunteering to share breath with me especially since the attempted criminal breach of our home. But he is unique. He is an eye-contact dog. He's so intense at this that he'll almost pinch or snip at another dog for bumping into him, trying to distract him, or blocking him. Very intense eye contact. It's like a laser with those eyes & like he's scanning me head to toe. It's been a good many years since I've had a dog like this. When he's satisfies with what he 'reads' he then does a perimeter check in the room or house & then returns, then he wants touch. If I'm sitting where he can, he will come up & bump my chin with his nose or touch my nose with his. He's gentle with this. At first I thought he was asking for his nose smooch but this is more like what Peggy does to you but there is a sequence & process with Mr. Layne. My dogs are a far too perfect gauge on my moods, feelings, health, etc... so the brats tattle on me if you know me well enough ;) But there is no question he's reading me. I hold the eye contact & sometimes will say something & sometimes we just admire each other for a long while... then after his check.. touch. Then he's all happy & goofy again
I absolutely love your insights! Thank you! And wow. What a chilling story. You handled that situation so well.

This morning Peggy gave me her usual morning greeting—sustained eye contact, a very gentle chin lick, more eye contact, and then a long hug—and I was struck by how superficially similar the lick was to her protective bath sniff/lick, and yet how completely different.

I love how dogs teach us to get quiet and tune into these subtleties.

Peggy, like Mr. Layne, will show irritation when other dogs interrupt her eye contact. If I call her to me during a play session and one of her pals bumps shoulders while she’s sitting in front of me, she’ll do a quick little “Back off, buddy. Can’t you see I’m working here?” I’m not exactly sure what she thinks her job is, but I know she takes it seriously.
 

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Peggy Sue, Standard Poodle Born May 2019
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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
So helpful Peggy and Basil.

I wish I had a poodle translator most days!

I swear sometimes he speaks English, always huffs/scoffs with perfect timing when we talk about him. I just wish I knew what he was saying back!

Our 3 year old gets concerned about human physical contact sometimes. Hugging or kissing humans seem to be cause for grave concern. Our guy will get up from whatever he is doing and quietly creep over on the tippiest of tippy toes, and stand close with stressed body language until the kissing/hugging stops. Or if it’s a seated kiss he will sit very close and move in between at his earliest opportunity. I wonder what he is thinking in these moments, how is he interpreting what’s happening, does he think it’s a negative interaction?
Lol! Peggy shows similar interest when my husband and I hug. She used to lightly try to jump up (in that special poodle way where they go vertical with a paw up but don’t actually put any pressure on you). But then we started including her in our hugs so now she just stands close and waits for us to open our arms to her, too.
 

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You're most welcome PeggytheParti. I was really young at the time this happened. I'm eternally grateful to my Grandpa who taught by example & he always told us "fear will get you killed". In any crisis, he was the calm. Sister caught her britches pocket on fire (carrying matches in there... don't ever do that). He put the fire out with his bare hands & carried her to the house. Brother got a snake wrapped around his ankle. Grandpa got it off, it was venomous, nobody got a bite. When he saw I was going to work horses, he trained me & let me tell you... requires that level of trust to do the stuff we did together.

You hit the nail on the head. Mr. Layne is very much like, "I'm working here..." & is so irritable over it.

Mr. Layne did something the other day that I wasn't too happy about until I got the results, then I was pretty amazed. I've sprained my ankle & been cripping around for about 3 weeks now. I sprained it three different times, each time a little worse & believe I stretched out the ligament on the inside by the ankle bone. Anyway it was getting better by the day. But the other day I could hardly bear weight on it & Mr. Layne was driving me bonkers! Dog... it doesn't feel great, don't keep hitting it with your nose. He even grumbled at the ankle, very intensely focused on that inside ankle bone. Finally when I wasn't expecting it he reared up, came down & struck that area with both front feet with quite a bit of force & it popped loudly... uhm... I was between tears in my eyes & thinking maybe today's the day I have to kill the poodle (figuratively, not literally). As I'm making noises because it smarted pretty good, I put a little weight on it... & what the little beast did was put my bone back into place. I grabbed him & hugged him & got a wet face from all the over joyed licking. While I wouldn't recommend Mr. Layne's Chiropractic Services... it did work & he was right. He is also currently working on my Giant Schnauzer's right eye which was bothering her from allergies. Now he's bothering her but he is obsessed with cleaning her eye. She will threaten him but I've noticed her eye is better since he's working on it. Mr. Layne is a Poodle of many talents. If the Giant doesn't clobber him & so long as he doesn't fix my bones the hard way too often... brutal but effective :) I am glad I didn't correct him or get offended because... he was right... yeesh.
 
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