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A wonderful tale of canine affection has recently emerged from California, where Smuckers the pit bull resides with her loving human. Smuckers, who once faced the grim reality of life in a shelter, found her forever home just before the COVID-19 pandemic struck. Her story, however, is more than just a heartwarming adoption; it sheds light on the complexities of canine behavior.
A heartwarming video posted on her TikTok account, smuckersthepitbull, captures Smuckers’ endearing behavior. When her human pets her, she responds by gently placing a paw on her, as if reciprocating the affection. Her human believes this pawing is a sign of affection, expressing her happiness and sense of being loved. This sentiment resonated with many on social media, with some users expressing their love for pit bulls and dogs in general.
However, not everyone was convinced that Smuckers’ pawing was solely a sign of affection. Some viewers questioned whether we can truly interpret these behaviors accurately. In search of answers, Newsweek consulted Susan Nilson, a professionally accredited cat and dog training and behavior expert.
Nilson explained that a dog’s pawing can indeed be a sign of affection or a way to seek attention. When accompanied by positive body language, such as a relaxed body, neutral ears, and a wagging tail, it usually indicates friendliness and sociability. Dogs may also paw their humans to reduce conflict or to convey their needs, such as hunger or the desire to play.
However, it’s crucial to consider the broader context and the dog’s overall body language. Dogs may paw for reassurance when they feel anxious or scared. Signs of anxiety include panting when not hot, yawning when not tired, tongue flicks, a low tail carriage, and pinned-back ears, among others.
Nilson also mentioned that physical contact releases oxytocin, known as the “love” or “cuddle hormone,” which can alleviate stress and anxiety in dogs. Thus, pawing may also serve as a means for dogs to seek comfort from their humans.
In the case of Smuckers, Nilson observed subtle signs of anxiety in the video, such as ears held back and occasional tongue flicks. She suggested that Smuckers might be seeking reassurance from her human and finding comfort in their presence and attention. However, she also noted a strong bond between Smuckers and her human.
We encourage everyone thinking of getting a pet to adopt instead of shopping. Read more resources about adopting animals on One Green Planet, including 7 Reasons to Adopt Your Next Furry Best Friend, 5 Reasons Why Everyone Should Adopt a Pet, and These Heartwarming Before and After Pictures of Adopted Rescue Animals Will Make Your Day! Read tips for pet adoptions and what to consider before adopting an animal. We recommend using these apps to find shelter dogs near you!
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