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Is it really NOT okay to hug a dog?

3363 Views 22 Replies 21 Participants Last post by  BennieGamali
Apparently I'm the last person to hear about this, but I gather that recently there have been all these articles about supposed research saying that it's NOT okay to hug your dog. Here's one example:

I happen to be a retired psychologist and teacher of psychology, and I find numerous problems with this so-called research, which lists numerous things that supposedly show that dogs are uncomfortable with being hugged. Things like licking their lips, rolling up their eyes, flattening their ears, trying to get away, etc. . . If you want to read more about this, just Google "is it okay to hug my dog," and you'll find tons of material, including one or two pieces saying the whole thing is nonsense.

Here's the biggest question I have about all this: so much of it is based on studies of dogs being hugged NOT by their owners, but by complete strangers. Why on earth wouldn't a dog be a little nervous if a stranger threw their arms around it?!

Anyway, if my dog doesn't like being hugged, why is it he comes over and climbs up beside me many times a day and drapes himself over my legs for a nap...or leans against me? Why is it he pushes his muzzle under my hand over and over in order to be stroked? Why does he follow me around the house, go get his toys for a play session, and climb up on my bed (which I do allow)? I "get" the idea that dogs are--what was the word, cursorial?--naturally inclined to bolt and run if they feel they are being pursued or held back: they need to be able to escape as necessary. That makes sense. I can see how any dog might feel this way if it felt "trapped" by a stranger's embrace. But I keep seeing advice--supposedly from experts--that a dog's owner should be content with an occasional pat on the head or a treat....but nothing else. Frankly, I often find myself wondering if my dog REALLY likes having his head patted: maybe he thinks his brain is being rattled! :D

I think this marvelous new research is ridiculous, and I think my dog agrees with me. Yes, we all tend to "anthropomorphize" our dogs, i.e., evaluate their behavior according to how we, as humans, act, but really....I'm pretty sure my dog is at the very least willing to tolerate me occasionally picking him up for a hug, and I know for sure that he misses me when I'm gone and likes having me near. I do wonder about those people who have doggie "baby-carriers" with which they carry their small dogs around, but that is up to them.

What do you think?

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If my dog doesn't like being hugged, I'll tell him I'll stop as soon as he stops licking me on the mouth!

He pushes his head into my body and I hug him and he rubs his face all over, so it can't be all that bad. :p
I'm not so sure my dog likes hugs, but that's the price she has to pay for being well cared for by me :)
I hug my dogs, and they don't mind at all. Echo and Reese even enjoy it. Chess it's hard to tell, but it certainly doesn't scare her or make her uncomfortable. I think the rule should be never hug a strange dog, don't let kids hug dogs. And if your dog seems scared or intimidated, then stop. It's that simple.
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Its a flawed "study" in this case. Taking random pictures off the internet and out of context is slightly silly in terms of using them for scientific data. Think about pictures taken of two dogs playing that look like they are about to kill each other.

Patricia McConnell talks about this in The other end of leash, so there is something to it. It's a matter of how you define a hug. All my dogs would be upset with me if i tried to full on hug them like i do another human. But they all "dog hug" me all the time. Leaning into me, nudging their heads into me, putting their feet on my shoulders so i can rub their back etc.

This whole study is really blowing the whole thing out of proportion!
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It's an exploratory study, the findings are meant to help define areas needing further investigation they are not supposed to be applied to the general dog populations.
As a rule most dogs probably don't enjoy being hugged, but they are accustomed to it and so don't object when their owners hug them.

Out of my 3 dogs only one actually enjoyed being hugged.
Shadow was never still enough for me to hug, he was go, go, go, and I was lucky if I got in a 5 minute snuggle session in in the morning.
Jersey liked to be hugged, she'd shove her head under my arm and snuggle in against my side.
Zody doesn't like being hugged, he will start struggling if I try hugging him. He will lay pressed up against me, and will sleep snuggled between my back and the couch back if I let him, just don't let me try hugging him.

My friend has a poodle that adores being held, hugged, and cuddled.

Know your dog, know what it enjoys, and if it just puts up with hugs and doesn't enjoy them then don't overdo the hugging.
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I think most dogs tolerate hugs, but don't enjoy it. And dogs who aren't accustomed to it can definitely interpret it as threatening behaviour.
I think most dogs tolerate hugs, but don't enjoy it. And dogs who aren't accustomed to it can definitely interpret it as threatening behaviour.
How many people want to spend hours hugging their dogs? An occasional squeeze, sure...but that's about it. I think a well-loved dog knows it's well-loved and will put up with this. As to a stranger wanting to throw their arms around the dog and hang onto it, that's another thing. It's kind of like someone wanting to hug your toddler: I don't think so.
My dogs thoroughly enjoy hugs and close body to body contact. But the thing is to be able to understand your dog's signals. I think most dogs DO really hate or dislike being held/hugged tightly around the neck, or having small children hang off their neck. Anything I hug my dogs or snuggle them I make sure there's space for them to move if the want to. And if they do I don't try to pull them back.
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a majority of the dogs I know really seems to not like full-on hugs, people hovering over them and kisses so much...most will put up with it for their owner sake, but most of them look not exactly enthused when you lock them in your arms.
Sancho likes one-armed hugs and initiates them by sneaking under your arm and leaning against your side (he even makes differences, that he choses the left side when the person is left-handed and the right when they're right-handed).
I think it depends on the person, the dog, their relationship, the situation and if the dog has the possibility to go away when they don't want to be hugged.
contact leaning and a pet by their handler seemed to be something most dogs like, but being hold tight can be seen as a suppressive gesture by some and make them feel uncomfortable.
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Pixel tolerates hugs/close affection but it's not her thing. She puts up with it and has accepted that it's going to happen. Fred LOVES hugs. If I'm sitting on the ground, he'll come and flop his whole body onto my lap or stand with his shoulders/head in front of me for a big squeeze and some ear scratches.

I'm definitely more overt with Fred, since I know he likes it, but I still do it to Pixel because, well, I like to do it. It's a small price for her to pay for all the spoiling rotten she gets (in her terms -- long walks, fetch, frozen kongs, treats, etc) :D
It's best to ask your own individual dog. Don't assume.
My previous dogs, definitely no.
Sonic, yes, but not always, not whenever, however. He gives me hugs (on cue now), (jumps up, slaps his paws on my chest, and squeezes in), then I know, and hug him back. It's nice to get hugs from a dog, but I was perfectly happy with my non-huggers.
I think the study is a good one, if only it reminds people to have some respect for their dogs personal space, and to not assume they 'love' everything you throw at them.
Well I think most dogs doesn't enjoy being hugged, but they tolerate it. I have had 7 dogs and I have hugged every single one of them.

Most of the didn't enjoy it, but they didn't object it either. The one I have now though, he enjoys it sometimes atleast :)
LOL, Someone said "don't assume." I have to say that my Westie, when he likes someone, climbs all over them, gets in their face and doesn't even once ask permission to hug and kiss! He is gradually growing out of this puppy behavior, and need more direction from whoever it is he's jumping on, but I have never seen a dog more affectionate on no uncertain terms!
I haven't had the time yet to read all the responses, but from what I've been able to read on the subject, experience and witness for myself, a lot of it has to do with what we call a hug being ingrained in dogs as aggressive and submissive act in a dominant fashion (Think of one dog winning a confrontation by holding the neck of his opponent in his mouth against the ground). That very act (a hug) can trigger a quick defensive measure in the dog and that's why it's upsetting to many dogs. Dog are the same way as humans in this regards...there is a vast variance on how a dog (or human) feels about another touching him/her, but for a dog, it seems to center around a hugging being an aggressive and dominating act. With that being said, even with family, it still depends on the dog and how it interacts with family members which they love. For instance, I have a dog that loves everyone in my family and wants attention from any family member who happens by. However, this one dog will only let me hug it and nobody else. I also have a dog that loves everyone but wants nobody to hug him. Then I have one that wants hugs whenever he can get them, but this one dog in particular is definitely no pack leader, so that quite possibly explains his willingness to be in a submissive role by being hugged.
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My two cents based on personal experience and not really paying much attention to this article, is that my dog doesn't seem to mind being hugged.. and she loves trying to fit herself on my lap which means that I have to hold onto her tightly otherwise she'll fall off (cause she's way too big to be a lap dog!!). I've never seen her act out when I do this, and all the affection I give her she gives it right back to me!! If she's at all "bothered" by a hug.. I think the affection and love she's getting outweighs any discomfort. She also doesn't mind being hugged by strangers.. but maybe that's just her.. overly affectionate.
There's a lot of things I don't particularly like doing for my dog either, including and not limited to picking up his poop, cleaning his vomit, cutting up treats that literally smell like rotten meat, keeping his blanket hair free and taking him for walks when it's 0° outside.

If he doesn't like a 15 second hug I give him every morning, too bad, I've earned it lol.
I keep being told to not hug my dog, but you know, I love it, and she likes it too. I even taught her to hug me back.

It probably depends on the dog's individual personality. I would NEVER hug a strange dog, nor would I hug Luke, my Lab. He doesn't like contact like that, so I don't. Paige, however, loves touching and rubbing me all over and enjoys the occasional hug. I don't do it for too long, just a short little hug and it's over. I do not want to make her uncomfortable by hugging her too long.
My dogs both love being hugged, and I mean full blown squeezes! Poppy paws at my arm and cries if I let go before she's ready and Nelson will head butt me. Poppy will let anyone give her a cuddle and often encourages it but Nelson has to invite most people for a cuddle.

As others have said I think it just depends on the individual dog.
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