Does hugging your dog stress him out?
Back in 2016 Psychologist Stanley Coren, who’s made a specialty of dog psyches, published an article saying, basically, that dogs hate hugs. The dog’s stress levels rise, possibly to bite level. His article was based on looking at internet pictures of people hugging their dogs and noting the signs of stress in the dog. Stress signals included: ears back, head averted, lip-licking, and showing the whites of their eyes.
Stress is bad
Let’s face it. We do lots of stuff that our dogs find stressful. While we try not to tease our dogs, lots of people do find it entertaining. And those people’s dogs learn to expect and accept it. Dogs are highly adaptable beings.
These days we’re all under stress, to some level. Since our dogs are attuned to us, they’re probably feeling it, too. But dogs are conditioned to handle life in a human world. It’s their specialty.
We know lots of reputable dog breeders who make it a point to thoroughly and happily socialize their puppies before letting them go to their forever homes. And it’s always a joyous day when they recruit people, especially children, to meet the puppies. There are always happy “puppy hugger” pictures on those days.
That’s what responsible breeders do – they expose their puppies to all kinds of experiences so they learn to adapt to all kinds of situations.
Hugging is good for us
While dogs may not enjoy hugging the way people do, most dogs tolerate it just fine. Especially if their owners are huggers. Hope’s French Bulldog Torque even has a “hug” behavior – when Hope puts her arms out, he dashes over and puts his front legs around her neck. They both love it!
We don’t recommend anybody runs around hugging every dog they see. That’s just silly and asking for trouble. But if it’s your dog, you know what they like and what they don’t.
Sometimes we all have to do stuff we don’t enjoy; renewing your driver’s license, waiting in line, cleaning, laundering, vacuuming, dusting, doing dishes. (There may be a theme in the previous sentence….)
Dogs have to do stuff they don’t like, too: baths, nail trimming, tooth-brushing, hugging. It’s part of the package living with people who care.
Hugging your dog
If your dog truly hates getting hugged, we certainly wouldn’t force them to do it. Booker is okay with it, but doesn’t really like it. We find other ways to show Booker we love him. He adores ear rubs. So he gets lots of them.
All of our dogs are cuddlers, so apparently dogs don’t equate the two. When we’re relaxing in the evening, all of them like to be “in touch.” And they’re all bed-hogs, taking up all the night-time territory they can.
That’s another kind of “hugging your dog.” And as long as it works for the two of you, there’s no other opinion that counts.