Expert Q&A: Is It OK to Hug My Dog?
For the most part, humans love hugs, so it only makes sense that they would want to share that love with their canine companions. However, as fun as hugging a dog is, recent scholarship has suggested that this may be harmful to their health. Here’s what you should know before you try to start a cuddle puddle.
Some dogs don’t choose the hug life
Some experts say that hugging a dog — as in wrapping your body around his and even picking him up a little — makes him feel uncomfortable. Some sources think this contact can make him feel trapped and stressed-out.
Know the signs
Dogs are very good at using body language to communicate when they’re feeling stressed. If you notice your dog giving you wide eyes or shaking after you hug him, there’s a pretty good chance he is not fond of that kind of embrace.
Trust is a must
A dog that knows you really well and trusts that you won’t hurt him is more likely to be amenable to hugs than one you just met. Take time to get to know and bond with a new dog before trying to hug him, and make sure to read his body language when you do.
Love other ways
Humans communicate affection via hugs. But if your dog finds this gesture hostile, try something more his speed. A good belly rub goes a long way!
Bottom line: Hugging tolerance varies from dog to dog. As long as you are constantly checking in with your furry friend’s body language, you should be able to figure out his willingness to cuddle or not.
Have a question for our experts Dr. Jill and Dr. Leslie? Ask below.
About Dr. Jill and Dr. Leslie:
Dr. Jill Villarreal (left) lives and breathes all things pet. A doctor of Biology, Behavior and Neuroscience (with a certificate in Animal Behavior), Jill is Senior Manager of Pet Sensory & Perception Insights over at Big Heart Pet Brands.
Dr. Leslie Hancock-Monroe (right) has been a top veterinarian for 15 years, and currently heads up Big Heart Pet Brands’ Nutrition and Scientific Affairs Department.
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