After You Learn Why You Shouldn’t Hug Your Dog, You May Think Twice About Doing It Again
Shannon B.

November 1, 2017

On a scale of one to ten, how hard is it to refrain from giving a dog all of your love and attention when you come home from work? I think it’s safe to say that most dog owners would probably put themselves at an 11 on that scale.

Dogs are always just so happy to see their owners come home. Their tails wag, they run around excitedly, and sometimes, they even look like they’re smiling.

So, it’s only natural that we’d want to hug those good, happy dogs. However, according to some studies, we shouldn’t actually be hugging our dogs. We can give them attention and affection, but hugs aren’t the way to go.

Dr. Stanley Coren recorded his observations in a weekly column in Psychology Today called “Canine Corner.” Dr. Coren admitted that his column shouldn’t be confused as a peer-reviewed study, as they’re just his observations. However, the man does have quite the extensive expertise in dog psychology and science.

Through his observations, Dr. Coren concluded that dogs do not actually enjoy being hugged; they just generally have no choice but to deal with it.

If we were able to take a step back and watch ourselves as we hug our dogs, we’d notice that they’re giving off signs of discomfort and distress. Dogs will typically pin their ears back or show the whites of their eyes as they’re being hugged. Both of these motions signal distress.

Humane Society of Greater Rochester /

It’s important to note that signs of distress don’t exactly mean the dog is being harmed or put in danger. That said, there are some things the people need to keep in mind if they choose to continue to hug their dogs.


For example, if others see you hugging your dog, they might think it’s okay to do so as well. However, if a dog is uncomfortable with his own owner hugging him, imagine how he feels when someone else is hugging him. He’ll likely go from being uncomfortable to being agitated. He might even lash out, no matter how good of a dog he is.

Dogs are also a lot less patient when it comes to children hugging them. Children are very impressionable. If a child sees an adult hugging a dog, the child will likely do so too. And if dogs have less patience for children, the odds of them lashing out at a child’s hug become much greater.

We may believe that we’re only giving our dogs love when we hug them. However, dogs see the interaction much differently. So, perhaps it’s best to think twice about how your dog might feel when you’re about to go in for a hug. Dog owners might be much better off opting for some playful pats or a belly rub instead.

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