Not your dog. He doesn’t know, let alone understand, why you are in his space trying to restrict his movement. He is honestly confused by your demonstration of love.
Penn Vet Behavior writes on their Facebook page, “Many people love dogs, and they offer a multitude of gestures (hugging, kissing, snuggling, petting) intended to convey that affection. However, a great number [of] dogs do not understand, or truly enjoy, many of the interactions that humans initiate. They tolerate them at best, and some even exhibit fearful or aggressive behavior.”
Think about it.
You get in your dog’s face, which he hates. He immediately starts to back away, making you hug him even tighter. He starts to yawn and lick, which are huge clues he is in distress, but do you stop hugging him? No, because you didn’t read the signs correctly and you are convinced he actually loves to be hugged.
It’s Okay. That’s how humans show affection, emphasis on humans. But remember, a dog is an animal that will fight and bite out of fear. If you get in his face and start bringing him in for an embrace, you could be bitten, a stranger could be bitten – or worse – a child. Sadly, dogs that bite are usually put down through no fault of their own.
“To a dog, a hug symbolizes a social status ranking as dominance and an invasion of space—lower members of the pack give space to the higher members to show respect. The position of the body is also meaningful to a dog. The one on top represents a higher status ranking. Therefore, when you bend down and wrap your arms around a dog you are not only on top, but you are in their space,” writes dogbreedinfo.com.
Should you stop hugging your dog? Not necessarily, but take a minute to read his body language and check your energy.
Dogbreedinfo.com says, “It is not bad to hug a dog that is familiar with you if the dog is calm and in a submissive state of mind, so long as you are hugging them at a time when you are relaxed and happy. As a matter of fact, the emotional sensation humans receive from hugging can be felt by the dog, and that energy radiating from the humans can be very calming to the dog. Not because the hug has the same meaning to the dog, but because he is enjoying the calm he feels coming from you.”
So what can you do to convey the love you are feeling for your dog without hugging him? Well, we happen to know that dogs love belly rubs and ear and butt scratches. In fact, most dogs will roll over for a good belly rub, and melt when you give them a good scratch behind the ears or on the rear. They completely understand this gesture and will beg you to perform these faves over and over and over again.