Do Dogs like Hugs?

Human beings have different ways of showing their feelings. People usually hug those they love, but animals don’t seem to like it. If you do, we recommend that you abandon this habit. In this article we will explain why.

Dogs hate hugs

That’s it. You may not have realized it, but  every time you hold your faithful friend in your arms to declare your love to him, you are annoying him. Give it a try. Observe how he reacts, what is the expression of his eyes or the position of his  ears.

According to a study conducted by University of British Columbia psychology professor (and dog expert) Stanley Coren, animals, and especially dogs, don’t like hugs.

This does not mean that they do not love you or that they do not love your caresses, but that they do not feel comfortable in your arms. Because, as we said before, each species shows their feelings differently .

Dogs don’t understand what hugs mean

Dogs are unable to understand that a hug is a show of affection,  they associate it with a lack of freedom or a lack of movement that can be caused by imminent danger. As Coren explains in an article published in the journal Pshycology Today, dogs get stressed and unhappy when hugged.

The reasoning is simple: the hug deprives them of the possibility of running away if any problem arises. It is as if they feel prisoners of your arms. To reach this conclusion, the professor and a group of colleagues analyzed about 250 photographs found on the internet that showed dogs being hugged by their owners.

Research has indicated that 8 out of 10 animals seemed bothered by the gesture. In 81% of the images, the dogs showed at least one symptom of anxiety, annoyance or stress. 8% seemed happy and the remaining 10% had ambiguous or neutral behavior.

Coren’s reasoning is correct and worth bearing in mind: “Dogs are runners. This means that they  are ready and fit to run in case of danger. If they feel imprisoned or unable to move, they get stressed ”.

How to understand that your dog is annoyed by hugs?

Studies can be very detailed, but you have to see the results with your own eyes and personal experience. You’ve probably  wondered why you haven’t noticed your dog doesn’t appreciate hugs. 

This is because animals often don’t show their feelings so clearly. An indisputable sign is that they show their teeth, that they try to bite you or that they bark. However, it is very rare that they come to behave in this way.

You must pay attention to small gestures, or those weak signals that can help you identify your dog’s true feelings  when you hug him. Canine signs of distress or distress (both manifested during hugs) are:

  • Lowered ears
  • Eyes closed or half closed
  • Head turned away from the person
  • He doesn’t look you in the eye
  • He licks his mouth
  • Stick out your tongue
  • He assumes a position where he is ready to escape
  • Tail between the legs
  • Choked breathing
  • Front legs stretched out to free herself from the embrace
  • Muzzle pointing upwards looking for air

Finally, the next time you want to show your affection to your dog, instead of hugging him, give him a light pat on the head, scratch him under the chin, say a sweet word, take him to the park or give him a gift.

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