We love to cuddle our furry friends, but apparently the feeling isn't mutual. Canine expert Stanley Coren weighs in on why giving your pup a squeeze is a bad idea.
Whether it's a greeting upon returning home, a midnight snuggle on the couch or after Fido plays a particularly good game of fetch, many dog owners love to hug their furry friends. But a recent study shows that most dogs find hugs stressful.
In a study that was originally published in Psychology Today, Stanley Coren, a professor and canine expert at the University of British Columbia, found the physical contact of a hug can be stressful for dogs.
In analyzing 250 photos of dogs being hugged, Coren found that 4 out of every 5 dogs showed signs of stress. These stress signs included turning their head to avoid eye contact, lip licking, yawning, raising one paw or even bearing teeth or biting. When it comes to hugging, a dog's first instinctive line of defence is to run away, Coren says. So be sure never to restrict your dog's ability to flee and everyone will remain happy and unharmed.
"It's a matter of safety," says Coren, especially when it comes to children, who are more likely to give their own, or even unfamiliar dogs, a squeeze, which can be "a precipitating factor when kids get bitten by dogs."
Instead of hugs, he suggests you show affection by rubbing your dog's belly, talking in a high-pitched sing-song voice or giving out a treat or two.