Video: New Research Might Make You Rethink Hugging Your Dog

Does this pooch look happy or stressed?
Photo by Kim, Emerson

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that most of us really enjoy hugging our dogs, for the simple reason that we love them dearly. But new research by canine behaviorists suggests that the dogs don’t find it as enjoyable as we do. Writing in Psychology Today, Stanley Coren writes,

“Behaviorists believe that depriving a dog of that course of action by immobilizing him with a hug can increase his stress level and, if the dog’s anxiety becomes significantly intense, he may bite.”

So it pays to look for cues from the dog to see if he or she is uncomfortable. And this is another reason that you shouldn’t allow kids to hug a strange dog.

What do you think? Is your dog a hugger or not?

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3 thoughts on “Video: New Research Might Make You Rethink Hugging Your Dog”

  1. Couldn’t disagree more. My dog leans into me until I embrace him. Then he sighs contentedly and settles himself into my side. If that’s not asking for a hug, I don’t know what is.

  2. Agree to disagree. Each dog is different and I’ve really only come across one or two dogs that didn’t really care for hugs. But all of mine, especially my last dog, enjoyed hugs and would lean into me on (basically sit on me) until I hugged him. Were there times I went in for a hug and he pulled away, yep. But I wouldn’t say that meant he didn’t like them. Just like ppl, sometimes they want space.

  3. Just like people, it varies from dog to dog. But, unlike people, they can’t use words to tell us how they feel, so you have to pay attention to their demeanor. Some of my dogs love to be hugged and will nudge me to be hugged. However, I also had a friend whose 7-year-old daughter was mauled by their family Rottweiler when she hugged it.

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