Do you have the feeling you want to hug every dog you see? Well, you are not alone!
However, a recent research shows that hugging a dog can increase their stress levels. Do not feel like a bad owner because you want to squeeze your dog every time you come home. It is normal, we all do it and we probably can’t stop doing it.
Dr. Stanley Coren is a retired psychology professor with long years of experience at the University of British Columbia. He looked at hundreds of pictures online of happy people hugging, as he concludes, unhappy canines. Dr. Coren came to this conclusion after observing the body language of the dogs on the pictures. He saw signs of distress in most of them. Some of the signs are closing the eyes, turning the head away, licking their lips, yawning or scratching the ears. So, if you notice these reactions you should not hug your dog. The process that goes on in the head of your dog when you hug them is different than what most of us think. In many cases, the dog feels distressed and wants to escape.
Of course, this is not true for all dogs and the research is not based on science, but on casual observations. Animal behaviour researchers neither agreed nor disagreed with the findings because they can not be backed up with solid data and there is no scientific method used. However, Dr Coren has suggested an interesting point of view and it gives a new direction for further research. So, for now, our dog cuddling days are not over!
According to other scientists in the field of dog behaviour and experienced trainers, there is nothing wrong in hugging your dog. Some dogs love hugs, others don’t, just like people.
However, there are some things you need to know when it comes to dog hugging. You should not cuddle dogs while they are eating or behaving in a strange way. Dogs can enjoy a hug when it comes at the right time and place. When a dog knows you and trusts you, you can go ahead and give it a squeeze. Never do it quickly and abruptly, because you can scare the dog. If you are not sure about hugging a pooch, better don’t do it.
So, how to show our dog some love if hugs are not the best way to do it? A dog would appreciate a treat, a kind word or a rub. However, some dogs learn what makes their human happy and learn to even give hugs because this is what we like.
Still, if you find it difficult not to snuggle your puppy (welcome to the club), there are some things you should look for to tell if your dog is a cuddler. Notice is your dog relaxes when you hug them if the breathing slows down. If you both enjoy it, hugging can bring you closer and make you happy and relaxed. Cuddling with your pet is a great way to feel better after a tough day, but it also strengthens the bond between you.
All in all, it is great to know what science has to say, but we also must listen to our hearts and intuition. You will immediately feel it if your dog likes to hug or not. And if they do, you can enjoy big, loving hugs as much as you like!