Does your dog like hugs? After all, your dog is your best friend and what better way to show him how much you love him than with a hug, right? Wrong! It turns out that dogs don’t particularly like to be hugged because it appears threatening and uncomfortable for them. In fact, hugs can stress out your dog and even trigger an aggressive response from him in some cases. Rather than giving your dog a hug, try a belly rub or scratch behind the ears to show him how much you love him. Read on to discover why hugs aren’t the best way to express your love for your pooch.
Does Your Dog Like Hugs?
Your particular dog might enjoy a hug from you, but chances are he doesn’t like hugs in general. People love hugs because they’re soothing, but dogs can interpret hugs as signs of aggression. Yes, that’s right, hugs seem threatening to dogs. So, does your dog like hugs? Probably not, but the answer depends.
- Dogs are known in the wild for their ability to run away from scary or intimidating situations. Hugging your dog keeps him confined and unable to escape, putting him in a vulnerable and uncomfortable position. Think of it like someone trapping you in a room with a locked door — it just doesn’t feel good.
- Dogs communicate mainly through body language and direct eye contact is mainly used to exhibit aggression to another dog. When you hug your dog, you put your face right in his, staring into his eyes, which your dog may view as aggressive.
- One study found that over 81 percent of dogs photographed being hugged by their owners expressed some sign of discomfort or anxiety through their body language. This study looked at pictures of owners and their pups available online.
- Some dogs may enjoy being hugged if it’s something that they have experienced as puppies as a positive experience. This is why it’s so important to socialize puppies to lots of experiences, including hugs, between the ages of 3 and 20 weeks old. It also ensures that they behave during things like grooming sessions.
- Many dogs will tolerate or possibly enjoy hugs from their owners but not from strangers. A hug from a stranger can be scary for a dog. That’s why you shouldn’t go around hugging dogs that don’t belong to you. You also need to ask the dog’s owner how he reacts to strangers in general.
Signs of Stress in Dogs When Hugged
So, do dogs like hugs? And does your dog like hugs? Maybe, but it really depends on the dog and his background. In general, most dogs show some sign of stress when hugged. If your dog is uncomfortable when he’s hugged, he’ll let you know through body language. Behaviors that indicate your dog is stressed-out include:
- Licking his lips
- Closing his eyes
- Flattening his ears
- Turning his head away from you
- Struggling to get away from your hug
- Tucking in his tail
- Stiffening his body
If you notice any of these behaviors, it’s best to keep hugging to a minimum. Or, teach your dog to enjoy an occasional hug with training.
Training Dogs to Tolerate Hugs
Does your dog like hugs? It’s safe to say probably not. While he may not like them, it’s a good idea to get him to tolerate hugs. That’s because young children and people who aren’t familiar with dog behavior may try to hug your dog. And, this type of training is great for potential therapy dogs who need to tolerate hugging. Here’s how to avoid issues with hugging.
- Pet your dog for a few seconds at a time. Start with his head, ears, feet, back and tummy. After petting the dog lightly, reward him with treats and praise.
- Once your dog tolerates some physical contact, up the ante. With your dog in a sitting, comfortable position, put your hand on his back and leaving it there for a minute or two. Reward good behavior — meaning no aggression — with treats and praise.
- Work your way up to putting your entire arm around your dog while he’s sitting next to you on the couch. Again, treat your dog for good behavior.
- Finally, wrap your arms gently around your dog and reward him. Start by rewarding him for a quick hug and then reward him after a few seconds.
- If you have a small dog, you can try picking him up and hugging him for a few seconds. Follow this up with some treats.
- Most importantly, remember to allow your dog to escape from you if he wishes throughout this process. You don’t want to trap your dog in a hug he can’t escape from. So, if your pooch starts wriggling out of your embrace, don’t stop him from leaving. This way, he’ll know that hugs don’t mean uncomfortable confinement in the future.
Cuddling With Dogs to Show Your Love
If your dog doesn’t like being hugged, a cuddle with him is a great alternative. In fact, many dogs enjoy snuggling up with their owners and you’ll even find dogs cuddling with other canines too. Remember, cuddling doesn’t have to involve hugs; it really only involves being next to your dog or allowing him to sit on your lap.
- Set up a cozy spot next to you when you’re hanging out on the couch, complete with a soft blanket. Invite over your pooch over and simply let him sit next to you. Dogs love being near their owners and this is a great way to show your dog that you love him too. If he enjoys cuddling, he may simply jump up and sit next to you without having to lure him with treats.
- Reward any type of cuddling next to you with treats to encourage more of it. In fact, treats in small amounts are a great way to show your affection for your dogs sans hugs.
- For dogs who are a bit more shy, tempt over your pooch with some treats. Once he’s sitting next to you, give him a canine massage of his back, head and ears. This is soothing for dogs and will encourage him to stick around.
So, does your dog like hugs? Not that much, but he loves snuggles with you and spending time by your side. Reward him for making you so happy with treats, a belly rub, some exercise or a doggie spa day. But, if you can’t control your instinct to hug your dog, train him to tolerate them.
How do you show your pup some love? Share with us in the comments section below!