Sometimes, we can have behaviours or habits that, without knowing it, can make our dogs uncomfortable and annoy them while we think they are not annoying or even pleasant for them.
When we want to show our affection and love for someone, we resort to gestures such as hugging. However, most dogs do not enjoy this moment.
Your dog doesn’t like it when you hug him.
Although it may shock you and seem strange, our dogs don’t feel hugs the way we do. You only need to observe how he behaves to realise this: the expression in his eyes, how he places his ears or if he tries to let go.
This doesn’t mean that they don’t love us or don’t want to be in contact with us. The reality is that dogs do not enjoy this moment because with this action, without realising it, you are immobilising him, making him feel helpless.
By nature, dogs are always ready to run away in case of danger. So a cuddle will be associated with a lack of freedom of movement and little chance of escape if necessary. In other words, they are stressed by being forced to stay still.
A study by the well-known psychologist Stanley Coren, an expert on dog behaviour, and his team showed that they do not enjoy this moment. To reach this conclusion, they analysed nearly 250 photographs of dogs being cuddled by their humans. Analysis of these photographs indicated that 8 out of 10 dogs showed signs of anxiety, discomfort or stress in this situation.
How can I tell if you don’t like it?
It’s normal that you haven’t noticed, but now that you know, it will be much easier to recognise the signs.
Dogs tend to accept many of our attitudes because they love us, but sometimes they don’t feel comfortable. It should be noted that every situation and dog is different but in the vast majority of cases the same thing happens.
Some dogs make it very clear that they do not enjoy cuddling because they show their teeth, try to bite or bark if you try. Many others, however, have small gestures that indicate their discomfort but may go unnoticed.
Common gestures include: sticking out their tongue, avoiding eye contact, gasping for breath, folding their ears down, closing or squinting their eyes, moving their body into an escape position, turning their head away from you, raising their muzzle «in search of fresh air», and so on.
There is the possibility that you can train your dog to see cuddling as a good thing through positive reinforcement but the reality is that there are a thousand different ways to show how much you love him, so skipping the cuddle is not a problem.
So now you know, when you want to show how much you love your furry friend you can do lots of other things like belly scratches, back rubs, play with him or give him an edible treat.