This is why you really shouldn't be hugging your dog

By admin
03 July 2016

A good bear hug means something entirely different to your furry friend.

He’s your best friend and always there for you. How can you resist giving him a loving hug occasionally? But some scientists say your dog may not be particularly keen on a hug. In fact, they say, dogs don’t like hugs at all.

A photo posted by Liz J. K (@l.i.z.z.y_k) on

Dr Stanley Coren, from the University of British Columbia in Canada, claims dogs could feel uncomfortable and defenceless when they’re hugged. He and his team analysed 250 random pictures of dogs and came to the conclusion that dogs hide their discomfort and even irritation in a number of ways. The team obtained their photos from social media. Read more: You can’t make me! Clever dog plays dead and refuses to leave the park Dr Coren says you shouldn’t confuse the bond between a mother and a child, where hugs are the order of the day, with the bond between you and your four-footed friend.

He believes dogs are designed to react fast and run, and loving human arms around them make them feel hemmed in. This boosts their stress levels and can make them snap at or bite the hugger.

Dr Coren identifies the following signs of stress or anxiety in dogs:

1 The dog turns his head away from what’s bothering him.

2 Sometimes he closes his eyes half way or completely.

3 Be alert for the half moon eye, where you can see the white in the corner of the dog’s eye.

4 He lowers his ears.

5 Licking his lips or your face, yawning or lifting one paw can also be signs of anxiety.

6 In cases of severe stress a dog could expose his teeth.

Read more: Hero dog saves the life of sleeping boy with diabetes An animal behaviour blogger, known only as Pamela, founder of, said on 25 April 2015 that the internet was overflowing with happy people hugging unhappy dogs. Dr Coren confirmed this in his blog entry of 13 April 2016. Pamela doesn’t write off the possibility of affection between people and dogs. But she’s learnt to be alert to her dogs’ behaviour before she hugs them. She does so only when they’re feeling secure and relaxed.

“I don’t think it’s horrible for someone who knows and loves their dog to give him or her a big, primate-style hug every so often. After all, if we can tolerate our dogs’ need to roll in stinky things or eat garbage, they can probably put up with a hug now and then,” she says.

Read more: Doggie depression is real – is your pup suffering from it?

The dog lover stresses that some dogs are independent and will allow closeness only when it suits them. But dogs who have formed a strong bond with people show their feelings in their own way. Pamela describes the following as "dog hugs": 1 Resting his chin on you 2 Leaning against you 3 Creeping into your lap 4 Sleeping beside you

According to Brian Hare, director of Duke Canine Cognition Centre in Durham, North Carolina in America, "When your dogs are looking at you they’re ‘hugging’ you with their eyes."


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