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Do Dogs Really Like Hugs?

Nothing is better than getting a hug from someone you like, maybe even love. It feels good and you want to return this act of affection as often as possible, right?

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.

PHOTO: cmannphoto

 

 

Sonya Simpkins

Sonya Simpkins is a contributing writer for i Love Dogs, Inc. In her spare time, she loves to take her dogs for long hikes and treks to the beach, out to eat and on long road trips across the county. She then turns those adventures into useful advice for other dog parents who also love to take their dogs with them wherever they go.

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May 8, 2013 By : Category : Behavior DOG NEWS Tags:
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13 Comments Print

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13 comments
CaseyShaneCorcoran
CaseyShaneCorcoran

Oh, that being said, just because your dog doesn't tolerate kissing, or hugging, and may even get aggressive with you, doesn't mean you should continue. My one friend would punch your face in if you wanted to hug him. Everyone is different

JackByrnes
JackByrnes

Sonya is right and all the  posts below that disagree are only reading their dogs the way they wish to read them.  No animal likes to be constrained, even if by someone they are familiar with.  But I will never win this argument cause its not what people want to hear.

Doglover1957
Doglover1957

Hello livefyre, this is my first post. I have a 7 year old Jack Russell/French Bulldog mix that is the center of my world. She is unbelievably smart and spoiled to no end. She has her own ways that took a while to understand that she exhibited from the time she was a pup. She puts up with all of the ways I show affection to her but I know what annoys her. She does not like to be woken up. She is not a morning dog. I have to make her get out of bed by bribing her. I think she uses this pattern for her own gain. I can handle her any way I wish but she does not like being held like a baby on her back. She needs to be "upright". She has two humans in her life and she has two completely different personalities with us both. She loves us both equally but she plays us both for her own gain. She is Alpha but very submissive for us and loves all people. Her personality is Jack Russell but her body says French Bulldog [sort of]. I could not imagine not having her in my life. She always wants to be with us wherever we go. She loves car rides and long walks. She does NOT really get along with other dogs however which is a concern. She has always been this way and it concerns me. She growls at any dog that gets near me or my partner. If we are holding her little body above dogs like German Shephards or other large breeds she almost goes insane with anger and protection towards us. i do not know how to correct this behavior. She has been through 3 obedience classes and did well but still has this behavior. She is going to be 8 years old soon and I think it is too late to try to change her. What do you guys think?

BrianaLynDelaney
BrianaLynDelaney

First of all, every dog is different.  One of our dogs tends to initiate cuddle sessions, and leaves at his own will.  The other does not mind them, but does not normally initiate them himself.  Also, a hug and a belly rub go perfectly together!

snitz55
snitz55

My dogs love to hug me.  They come up and sit in front of me, then put their paws on my knees and if I start to pet them they move their paws up to my shoulders and lean in as I hug and pet them.  This may be true of dog your not familiar with but all the dogs I have owned love to be hugged and petted and are constantly looking for it.

CaleNKatherine
CaleNKatherine

my dog comes up tail wagging and puts her own ups around my neck and licks the crap outta me, no force made to her an I give her a bit of a hug an the rest the time spent with her hugging me I give her a nice rub on her sides and back, she forces me to hug her so clearly wrong statement when my dog loves hugs, my other dog lays on her back for belly rubs and if u don't she isn't happy and licks. vets don't give enough time to an animal to understand them, they only know uni teaching hardly any full time social so they think they know when in reality an actual dog owner and lover is the one who does tend to know best

CatWalden
CatWalden

I fully agree with NatusvanNiekerk. This article is written confidently as if there are facts or justifications to the points made, but there are none. This is just blind speculation.

AmauryRoseline
AmauryRoseline

I dont really agree. Dogs are very intelligent. They catch on quickly to our behaviours and patterns. If I came home one day and didnt go for a snuggle session with my dog, after 16 years of doing so, I think she'd feel she did something wrong. I know she would cause when im on the phone when I walk in and don't fall to me knees for a session, she starts freaking out and trying to jump in my arms regardless. Most socialized dogs put two and two together fairly quickly when it comes to us as a species.

NatusvanNiekerk
NatusvanNiekerk

I had a dog that use to lie on its back and then I kissed her on her stomach and she use to love it

R Labbe
R Labbe

@BrianaLynDelaney Agree totally mine jumps up stands on my legs puts his front paws on my shoulders drops his head just under my neck and the Hugging is on. He lays there quietly and certinly demonstrates no fear or anxiety of the situation. Tolerate hell no he initiates !!

VanessaDeHartWilliams
VanessaDeHartWilliams

@BrianaLynDelaney I agree. It totally depends on the dog. I have had ones who tolerate it..but now I have one who wants affection constantly! I love it, of course.