Warning: Why You Should Not Hug Your Dog!

People usually give hugs to those we love; however, this does not seem to be entirely pleasant for our pets.
Warning: Why You Should Not Hug Your Dog!

Last update: 08 February, 2018

Living beings have different ways of expressing our feelings. Even if you are used to doing it, we recommend that you do not hug your dog. In this article, we will tell you why.

Dogs hate hugs

Just as you are reading this maybe you had not realized, but every time you wrap your arms around your faithful friend, rather than declaring your love, you are annoying it. If you want, put it to the test. Observe how it feels, what is the expression in its eyes or how it put its ears.

According to a study by Stanley Coren, a psychology professor at the University of British Columbia (and an expert on dogs), pets and especially dogs do not like hugs. At all.

This does not mean that the animal does not love us or that it does not find our touch pleasant, but rather that it does not feel comfortable in your embrace. Actually, this is because, as we said at the beginning, each species has a different way of expressing its feelings.

Dogs do not understand hugs

hug person dog

Dogs cannot understand that a hug is synonymous with affection. Rather, they associate it with a lack of freedom or deprivation of movement that can be caused by eminent danger. As Coren explains in an article published in Psychology Today Magazine, pets get stressed and are unhappy when we embrace them.

The reasoning is simple: by giving them a hug, we are taking away the possibility of running away if there is a problem. It is as if they feel imprisoned in your arms. To reach this conclusion, the professional and a group of colleagues analyzed about 250 photographs obtained on the internet showing dogs being embraced by their owners.

The researchers indicated that 8 out of 10 animals were completely uncomfortable in that situation. Specifically in 81% of the images, the dogs had at least one sign of anxiety, discomfort or stress. Some 8% seemed happy, and the remaining 10% had an ambiguous or neutral attitude.

Coren’s argument is valid and worth taking into account: “Dogs are cursorial animals. This means that they are prepared and adapted to run in case of danger. Therefore, if they feel imprisoned or cannot move freely, they will begin to get stressed. “

How can I tell if my dog ​​dislikes hugs?

The studies can be very detailed and direct, however we need to check the results with our own eyes or experiences. Surely you’ve wondered why you have not noticed the discomfort that your beloved dog feels when you hug him.

This is because many times animals do not tend to show their feelings so clearly. An irrefutable signal would be showing their teeth, trying to bite or barking. But it is very rare that they go so far as to behave that way.

Dogs hate hugs

We must pay attention to the “microexpressions”, that is to say, subtle indicators that can help us detect our pet’s true feelings when we embrace it. The canine signs of feeling stress or danger (both of which are experienced when receiving a hug) are:

  • Lowering its ears
  • Closing or squinting its eyes
  • Turning its head away from the person
  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Licking its nose
  • Sticking out its tongue
  • Moving its body into an escape position
  • Putting its tail between its legs
  • Shortness of breath
  • Stretching out its front legs to “separate” from the hug
  • Bring its snout up (as if looking for fresh air)

Therefore, the next time you want to express to your pet how much you love it, instead of embracing it, try a gentle pat on the head, scratch its chin, say a kind word, go out to play at the park or give it a gift.

The contents of My Animals are written for informational purposes. They can't replace the diagnosis, advice, or treatment from a professional. In the case of any doubt, it's best to consult a trusted specialist.