Tag Archives: dogs and stress

Is hugging your dog a good thing?

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!

Hope hugging her dog Torque

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.

Strange times for dogs, too

Whether you’re in a mandatory “stay home” area, or practicing “social distancing,” we’re certainly living in strange times. 

We have absolutely no medical expertise, and we avoid talking politics, so our major topic of conversation (as usual!) is dogs.

So very many dogs out for walks!

Our shop is just north of Chicago in an extremely urban suburb, developed in the 1950s. The lots are small and there are many multi-unit buildings in our town. That said – even when we’re out walking our dogs, we rarely see anybody else doing the same.

Now, with most local businesses shuttered for the duration – people and their dogs are everywhere! It’s wonderful!

Lots of Bostons

The weirdest thing is, for us, that we keep seeing different Boston Terriers. We had no idea there were others in the area, both at home and at work. It could be that our eyes are just focusing on things we’re interested in, but since we’re pretty much interested in all dogs, we don’t think so.

And Shih Tzus! And a couple of Poodles! And two Airedales, not with the same people. Of course many Goldens, a couple of Min Pins, Pit Bulls, Boxers, German Shepherds, and the list goes on and on!

We have a feeling that a lot of these dogs have never had as much attention and exercise with their owners in their lives. These poor dogs are going to be so happy when their 16-hour naps are back on the schedule!

Of course the up-side to this is that the dogs are going to be in better shape than they’ve ever been in their lives. They may be sore for the first couple of days, but they’re going to love it!

Great outlet

We dog people are all so very lucky to have our best friends with us, even in these strange times. Technology allows us to stay in touch with the people who matter most to us, but having the warmth of our dogs next to us is vital, too. 

Dogs, like this pug, give comfort in strange times

If your life has changed drastically in the last couple of weeks (and whose hasn”t?), chances are you’re feeling somewhat stressed, anxious, and perhaps even afraid. Keep in mind that our dogs not only are capable of these same emotions, but are also well-attuned to us, and could be absorbing your stress, too.

If you’re fond of music, keep some favorite tunes playing. It really does have a positive effect for both people and dogs.

Dogs adore routine! 

Try to keep your new schedule as regular as possible.

Dogs absolutely know when it’s time to eat, walk, and play. They also know when it’s time for someone to come home, or leave. They have powerful internal clocks that can even predict when it’s the weekend, or a regular day off. That’s one of the reasons they may seem unsettled now. A “staycation” can be just as upsetting to their routine as mandatory stay-at-homes, like we have now.

Take comfort in your dog

All the health studies conducted about human interaction with dogs prove that our dogs are good for our well-being. Take advantage of your best friend’s presence. While you’re binge-watching a favorite television show, trying to keep yourself calm, invite your best friend to share the couch. And the popcorn. Dogs love popcorn.