You may think you are doing your dog a favor by hugging him but the truth is that dogs don’t like hugs. They may not want to be trapped and this makes them feel uncomfortable. Dogs love to be petted than hugged.
Not only do dogs dislike hugs, many of them hate it too. A research team led by Stanley Coren, a psychology professor at the University of British Columbia known for his research on dogs, found that dogs though do not like to be hugged, they do so only to please their owners. The truth is that your dog gets stressed out every time you hug him. However, he refrains from showing any displeasure to ensure you are not annoyed.
Why Dogs Don’t Like Hugs?
The research report published in the Psychology Today claims that when we hug a dog, it does not sooth or comfort him. Rather, such an action increases the level of anxiety and stress in dogs. The reason could be a dog when hugged feels like he is trapped and this makes him bothered. The dog finds himself unable to run away in case of an emergency or threat.
When you hug your dog, it is highly likely that he experiences stress. According to Coren, “when there is a threat, the first line of defense that a dog uses is not his teeth, but rather his ability to run away. Behaviorists believe that depriving a dog of that course of action by immobilizing him with a hug can increase his stress level.”
If you closely observe photos of dogs hugged by their owners or family members, you may see facial expressions of dogs. Find out if dogs on the photos look like they are enjoying this display of affection. Though they do not try to physically avoid their owners, their facial reactions tell it all.
Dogs Feel Stress When Hugged
Coren adds that there are also subtle expressions by a dog hugged to indicate that such actions by owners have made him stressed and anxious. When your dog is feeling stressed and uneasy, he may
- lower his ears
- turn his head away from your face
- make whale eyes or show the white edges of his eyes
- lick his nose and lips
- do the hugger’s face
This clearly shows that dogs don’t like hugs. And your dog is not returning your love by licking your face. He is simply asking you to let him go.
The research group led by Coren examined about 250 random photos of dogs hugged. The primary focus is to find out any signs of distress when dogs do not like hugs. It was discovered that in 81.6% of the photos, there was at least one clear sign of anxiety in dogs hugged. This shows that majority of dogs don’t really like hugs.
Hugging dogs may relieve your stress. However, will you still do it knowing that dogs don’t like hugs!