Some dogs make it abundantly clear that hugs are not tolerated, others might simply let the moment pass without comment. And others might absolutely adore hugs from their trusted companion, but not from other humans.
In an article published recently in Psychology Today
, Stanley Coren, who studies canine behavior at the University of British Columbia, makes a sadly strong case against the dog hug, arguing that although humans love embracing their canine pals, the physical contact stresses dogs out.
‘Dogs are cursorial animals. Theyíre designed to run quickly either to prey or away from a threat. Depriving a dog of that course of action by immobilizing him with a hug can increase his stress level.’
Dogs are cursorial animals. They're designed to run quickly either to prey or away from a threat. "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," Coren writes.
Coren studied 250 random photographs of dogs and found some disturbing results. "In all, 81.6% of the photographs researchers scored showed dogs who were giving off at least one sign of discomfort, stress, or anxiety," Coren writes.
Only 7.6% of the photographs could rate as showing dogs that were comfortable with being hugged. The remaining 10.8% of the dogs either were showing neutral or ambiguous responses to this form of physical contact.
It's good to be sure how your dog feels, when you hug him or her and how he feels, when strangers go in for a hug, especially since hugs mean putting your face next to a sharp set of teeth. To let your dog know you love him, a pat on the head or a nice belly rub or a treat will suffice.