Have you given your lovable pooch a hug today? Hugging is a universal sign of affection that humans use on a daily basis, so who wouldn’t want to give one of their best friends the same treatment now and again? Before running off to do so, here are some quick tips as to how you can show your dog you care about them.
Do Dogs Enjoy Hugs?
If someone were to search up the word ‘dog’ and ‘hug’ together, they would probably receive some surprisingly polarizing results on the subject. This might come as a shock to some, but some dogs do not necessarily like hugs, according to certain studies. However, this is only a half-truth at best. Just viewing it from a dog’s perspective, it does make some amount of sense. Dogs are classified as cursorial animals, or ones that can run away swiftly from a viable threat. By being suddenly grabbed or refrained from that movement inhibits this instinct, so it could cause a certain amount of stress. Plus, dogs hold things between their legs as a sign of dominance, not affection as humans do. Of course, dogs have been domesticated to the point where they understand a human is not a predator and will not initiate its fight-or-flight response, but that does not say that they still do not experience stress in these situations. The stress may not be obvious as teeth-baring to an average person, but there are still signs to look for. Some signs of stress include licking lips or yawning, squinting submissively or seeing the whites of their eyes, drooping ears, and of course looking away or twisting around before tensing up. These signs are critical to look for and respect as a pet owner so you can know when to give your dog some space.
Every Dog is Different
While this information may be discerning at first, keep in mind that this does not apply to all dogs. In fact, some pooches actively seek out affection in this way. Actually, many dogs are comfortable with snuggles during bedtime than at any other time. A lot of dogs have been trained to understand hugs and accept them, after all, they know you mean no harm as far as they understand. It just comes as a matter of being precautious. If your dog frequently climbs or leans against you or begs to be in your arms, more likely than not they will be perfectly content with a hug. As always, it is good to check for signs of anxiety or stress before or even after a hug. In addition, dogs are like humans in the way that they have their own personal backgrounds to consider. If they are unaccustomed to contact or hugs due to past circumstances, they may not want a hug. We don’t give hugs to everyone we know either, so developing a strong bond with your dog is important as well. Recently adopted or purchased dogs may not be comfortable with hugging just yet. There is still hope, however, to help your dog get accustomed to this type of affection. It is recommended to start slowly with a shoulder touch, then to hand, and gently move your arm across their back. Reinforcing this motion with treats will allow the dog to associate hugs with positive emotions. Of course, assessing the situation is important as well so your dogs is relaxed and happy at the time that you want to hug them. By doing these simple tricks, your dog can be just as happy as you with an occasional hug.
Should You Hug Your Dog?
If your dog reaches the hugging phase, hugging can have some great benefits for both parties. Hugging a dog has been shown to reduce blood pressure and heart rate in humans, but is also calming and stress-relieving for dogs. It can also strengthen the human-animal bond, help humans sleep, and increase the physical activity for dogs. But if a dog doesn’t grow accustomed to hugs, keep in mind that it in no way reflects on their feelings towards their owner as a companion or family member. Not all people like hugs either, but that doesn’t mean they like others any less. Hugs just simply mean something different in the dog world, and that is ok. Whether you celebrate the day cuddling with your pup or scratching their bellies, remember that there will always be a way to show your companion that you adore them, and each person or pooch can express it in their own unique and special way. For all they do for us, shouldn’t they get some affection today?
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