MiniPress: Love Hurts (when your dog is overexuberant)

Soon after I adopted Gadget, he was on my bed, sort of lying in my lap — as much as a 70-pound dog can — and I was rubbing his belly. So, his back was against my front.

I leaned forward to kiss him on the top of the head.

At the same time, he decided to throw his head back to give me a kiss.

In other words, top of dog skull moves up and back at high velocity, while human cartilaginous nose comes down at slow velocity.

Result? Broken nose. (Mine, not Gadget’s.)

I never got it x-rayed, but I got my nose broken during a field hockey game in high school, and this felt the same, and actually hurt several weeks longer, than the hairline fracture I got from the ball-to-the nose. So, I’m pretty certain Gadget did break it. (There’s no treatment for a hairline break of the schnoz, so there was no point in finding out if it’s broken or not.)

Bouviers do not tend to be kissy dogs, but like all dogs, they are more kissy when they are young.

I have intentionally encouraged kissiness in Barnum, and put it on cue, because I like it. I also think it could be useful for certain future service skills.

Barnum at 5 months kissing Sharon on bed

Gentle, low-velocity side kisses = safe.

Recently, I was grooming Barnum, which I do on the floor. He is always thrilled when a human gets on the floor with him.

I had my head tilted down, murmuring endearments and brushing. He was suddenly overcome with the need to express his love.

He thrust his head up to kiss me.

Top of dog skull collides with underside of chin of human. Human’s mouth snaps shut. Teeth bite into tongue — on both sides. Ow.


Lightening-quick kiss-attack = hazard. Proceed with caution!

Barnum is definitely following in the paw prints of his predecessor: Official Hindrance Dog.

Ain’t love grand?

– Sharon, the muse of Gadget (I was young and in love! So sue me!), and Barnum (She’s the one who’s always saying, “Kisses!” Sheesh.)

8 Responses to “MiniPress: Love Hurts (when your dog is overexuberant)”

  1. 2 Margaret Price February 5, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    I LOVE this and ALSO the snow-face photo essay! 😀

    I’m cueing “kiss” with Ivy too, as a way of getting her engaged with small children with less defensiveness. So far we are only practicing “kiss” with small people she trusts completely (the 3- and 1-year-old from next door, with me hovering close by). It’s an ideal behavior for non-aggressive interaction with little ones, because it entails doing one quick, pleasing thing and then rushing back to me for the treat. 🙂

  2. 3 brilliantmindbrokenbody February 6, 2011 at 7:54 pm

    I didn’t get him until he was 2 years old, but even my grown-up Hudson has managed to knock me around pretty good. The first time he tried to play with me, he was open-mouthed when he connected with my face – some minor bruises, but no broken skin, fortunately.

    He has knocked me over by frisking and running into my legs. He regularly pushes me off balance when I sit down and get cuddly with him. He just pushes his head into my chest so hard I rock back, then he stops, and as soon as I straighten back up, he does it again.

    And oh man has he given me headaches by whacking me with that snout of his! Hudson’s got a big, heavy head (part of why he resembles your pooches), and he tends to smack it into things when he’s excited – the side of my head, my knee, my ankle, you name it.

    And then there’s his tail – a big, thick tail, much heavier than that of say a lab. He’ll give himself a good hard shake, almost enough to knock him off his feet, and his tail will fly hard enough to bruise me.

    *sigh* Don’t get me wrong, I love the boy and he’s gotten a lot better about it, but he definitely injures me with his exhuberance.


  3. 4 Sharon Wachsler February 8, 2011 at 5:33 pm

    Thanks, Bettina! And I’m glad you have your blog link with your name, because Remembering Niko is a terrific resource for people who have lost their heart dogs.

  4. 5 Sharon Wachsler February 8, 2011 at 5:41 pm

    Thank you, Margaret! So good to get the feedback.

    That’s great what you’re doing with Ivy. I haven’t been able to get Barnum (or myself) out much, and consequently I think he is undersocialized. He interacted with babies and toddlers as a puppy, but when he hit the bouv equivalent of the terrible twos, I wanted to be sure there were no uncontrolled interactions, as he is very exuberant (as this post indicated!), and I wouldn’t want him to knock a kid into next week. He has been excellent, however, with a five/six-year-old boy who is also very exuberant, and grabs onto him and “hugs” him by putting him in a headlock, etc., and Barnum has put up with it all, so that’s a big help!

    I haven’t yet taught him to kiss or not kiss other people, just me. It’s just one of the many, many, many things on the “to do” list!

  5. 6 Sharon Wachsler February 8, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    Yes, I hear you! A big, hard dog skull can do some damage!

    All my bouvs have had docked tails. In the US, it’s hard to get a bouv with a natural tail. I feel so torn about the tail thing. The fact is that it is incredibly convenient not to have to deal with a tail: no knocking over displays at the grocery store; no whacking strangers in it when in line at the doctor’s office; and like you said, no being pummeled by it, yourself. And it’s just convenient not to have to deal with additional accumulations of snow, ice, dirt, and poop that tails (esp. big, furry tails), bring with them.

    On the other hand, I just think, ethically, it’s wrong. They are born with tails, and they are cut off when they’re babies, and there’s no medical reason it’s necessary. Also, while you can read a certain amount of dog body language from just the stub, I often think I could have more information with the rest of the tail visible.

    Anyway, be that as it shouldn’t be. . . .

    Yes, the issue of fragility is no small matter. With a condition like yours, or something like osteogenesis imperfecta or rheumatoid arthritis, the dangers are pretty substantial. For all that I’m quite ill, I’m not fragile in that way. I have injured myself in some nasty ways (including running over my own foot or jamming my ankle into furniture, causing swelling and bleeding, etc.) with my own powerchair! And I recover. I actually think that since I’m in pain so much, I tolerate other types of pain quite well.

    I might *suffer* from puppy raising and owner-training, in terms of things like migraine, exhaustion, body pain, lack of sleep, etc., but I don’t get “broken” (yet).

    However, here’s a cautionary tale (tail?) for you. A friend of mine had a pet bouv, and after he died, she wanted to get another bouv as a SD, but she wasn’t able to train him herself, so the plan was for her mother to puppy raise him, and then I’d take him as a young adult and train him.

    Two things went wrong. One was that I became too sick to do the training by the time he was the right age. But, while her mom (who was totally AB) had him, when he was about 7 or 8 months old, he one day slammed right into her legs while playing at the dog park, and she was injured severely. It took many months to recover, maybe more. Her leg was FU.

    A lot of bouvs love to charge at you, in play, and then swerve at the last minute. However, I guess before they learn to swerve, or if they’re not paying attention (as in the case of the young ‘un above), you’re in trouble!

  6. 7 brilliantmindbrokenbody February 12, 2011 at 6:15 am

    Docked tails are definitely something I’m against. My parents have a corgi mix who (fortunately) was not docked, and while he has a thick and often violent tail, I can’t imagine removing it from him. Likewise my Hudson – thickest tail I’ve ever run into, and MAN does he hurt me with it sometimes, but I just…I would never want to put a creature through the pain of being altered without a really good reason (for example, having service dogs spayed or neutered so that they don’t have breeding on the brain).

    Fragility is for me the main reason I don’t think raising a pup would be a good idea for me – that and just not having the ability to scramble outside all the time for potty training, and physically having difficulty cleaning, and geez I don’t know how I’d cope with a high energy dog ’cause Hudson probably doesn’t get enough exercise as is and he’s not one who gets wound up about it. I can only imagine how I’d deal with a dog who really needed a mile or two a day.

    That charge-and-swerve thing is what Hudson did when I first got him, which did result in a handful of collisions, including the open mouth to face one I mentioned before. I yiped and stayed down after he ran into me, and he learned after a few weeks that it was not an acceptable form of play. Instead, I chase him, which he enjoys quite a bit. I just wish I was more able to do it – it’s great exercise and good bonding, and we both have fun. But I can only manage it for short distances on a perfectly level, solid ground like our livingroom carpet. I couldn’t run after him at dog park like that, because I’d injure myself.

    But yeah, I know a puppy is a bad idea for me. I just kinda hate that it is, you know? I want to believe that I could raise and train my own SD, even though I know better. Wishful thinking and delusions, I’m full of ’em.


  7. 8 Allison Nastoff February 19, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    My yellow lab Gilbert did the same thing to me once! Fortunately, I don’t think my nose broke, but it was sore for a couple days! Gilbert also has a thing where when he is REALLY enjoying the belly rubs, he’ll sneeze, and since I like to put my face close to him to talk to him while rubbing his belly, I have gotten snot sprayed right in my face numerous times! But their love is absolutely worth the sore schnoz, and the snot in the face.

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