We all have so much love for our canine companions, which means it’s really hard to resist a hug to show them your affection. While you’re snuggling away, you may be wondering, do dogs like hugs? The answer may surprise you!
Do Dogs Like Hugs?
Many people don’t realise that hugging is in fact stressful to dogs. When humans greet each other a hug is a natural expression of affection and warmth. This can lead us to forget that our four legged friends might not appreciate the contact.
While dogs have earned the moniker of human’s best friend, we speak completely different languages. Our physical communication is also very different. In the same way that you wouldn’t be a fan of having your bottom sniffed as a greeting, the same goes for dogs with hugs.
When we observe dogs interacting with each other we see a lot of physical contact but not much embracing. They might fight, play fight or roll around with each other. However, there isn’t a lot of contact that looks like a hug. Therefore, when you hug your dog they don’t understand what the action conveys. Your dog feels like they are being trapped.
In addition to this, as your face will be next to your dogs or your eyes may be locked your dog could read this as aggressive or threatening body language. This coupled with the squeezing sensation of a hug can be overwhelming for your pooch.
Dr Stanley Coren did a research study examining 250 photographs of dogs being hugged and cuddled by their owners. Although the occasional dog seems unperturbed by the contact, 81 percent of the dogs exhibited body language that indicated stress.
While it may be instinctive to hug and squeeze the things you love and care for, there are more dog-appropriate ways to exhibit your affection.
How Do I Show Them I Love Them?
Learn dog body language
Your dogs body language will give you an insight into how they feel in themselves and towards you. Positive signs such as a wagging tail, strong eye contact and raised eyebrows indicate that your dog is feeling the love you’re sending them.
Conversely, look out for negative body language which can indicate anxiety or discomfort. These signs can include lip licking, yawning, a tucked tail and popping out eyes. Sometimes the signs may be slightly subtle, which means you’ve probably never noticed it while giving your dog a hug.
Gaze at them lovingly
Dogs use eye contact as a display of trust and affection.
When a dog gives you long, lingering eye contact, it’s a way of saying “I love you.” A recent study shows that oxytocin, the ‘love chemical,’ goes up in both dogs and humans when they share a kind gaze.
Our dogs do much of their communication with their eyes. Looking back at them with the right expression can be as effective as talking. Experts have long theorised that a long, lingering glance from your dog is their own way of saying that they love you.
In fact, studies have even shown that oxytocin, the “love” and “bonding” chemical raise in both humans and dogs when they share a prolonged gaze. Dogs are very perceptive at reading our facial expressions, raised eyebrows and a relaxed smile from you will have them feeling the love.
Rub their ears
Petting your pooch releases the love chemical oxytocin for both you and your dog. Treat your dog to a soothing massage to show your dog how much you love them. Wondering where the best place to pet your dog is? We recommend rubbing their ears! They’re packed with feeling receptors.
Dogs are creatures of habit and thrive on routine and structure. Simple measures like keeping a regular walking routine with your pooch lets them know that you care for them. Use these walks to take advantage of training opportunities, practising skills like recall and loose leash walking. Sharing these experiences with your dog is a great way to build mutual trust and communication.
Chat to your dog
Having that one-way chit chat with your pooch, isn’t as crazy as you think. Recent studies show that dogs actually understand us better than we think. It’s recommended to engage in conversations with your pooch, speak in a high pitched tone (baby talk) and use words that they love like, treat, walk, good etc.
Yup, we can finally we can talk to our dogs without feeling like a crazy dog person. Studies also show that it’s not only speaking to them that can create that special bond, but also reading. A rescue centre in Missouri introduced a training programme where children aged 6-15 could come and read to the dogs. They found that when the children read, it calmed anxious and high-energy dogs but also made the shy dogs more confident!
Learn Your Canines Love Language
Hugging in general may be stressful to our dogs. However there are many other ways we can illustrate how much they mean to us and how much we love them.
Learning how to tell your dog that you love them is about learning their canine love language. Whether your dog is a licker, a leaner, a starer or a tail wagger they’re constantly giving off signals for you to read. All dogs are different just like humans. Your communication with your furry best friend will improve as you get to know each other better.