Do Dogs Like to Be Hugged?

Christmas is here, and with it comes family get-togethers where lots of different people are going to be around your dogs. For your guests who like dogs, some of them may choose to be overly affectionate with your canines. Petting your dogs is one thing, but embracing them in a hug is another. This behavior begs the question, “Do dogs like to be hugged?”

Affection in Dogs Vs. Humans

Hugging is a very humanistic way to show someone that you care for them. However, in a dog’s mind, they are being held or constricted in some manner when we hug them. Dogs express their interest in other dogs by doing things like sniffing their behinds. Hugging is a foreign concept to them.

According to ASPCA, experts in dog behavior believe that most dogs don’t like to be hugged. However, because every dog is unique, some dogs may actually love being hugged.

Know Your Pet

So, how do you know if your dog enjoys being hugged or not? The best way is to pay attention to their body language when you are hugging them. With that being said, you should note that dogs have their own unique ways of showing you that they care.

If your dog is not crazy about close contact, most likely he won’t appreciate being given a good squeeze. In cases like this, it might be best to not try and hug them, because just like people, the smallest things can make pets susceptible to anxiety problems. If all your dog does is pull away from you as you are hugging him, it’s no big deal. However, if he begins acting out with undesirable behaviors, you may be right to be concerned. Use your intuition to feel out your dog’s personality and back off when your dog is feeling uneasy.

Be Observant

One way to know for sure if your dog likes being hugged is to snap a picture of both of you together when you are giving him a hug. By reading your dog’s body language, you should be able to judge whether or not your dog is enjoying it. For example, if your dog holds his ears back and looks like he would rather be anywhere else, there is your answer. On the other hand, if your dog leans in towards you and licks your face, your dog may love being hugged.

Another sign that your dog is enjoying the hug is if you see them wagging their tail with their entire behind. You might notice that this is the same way he greets you when you come home from work. Also, if your dog places their paw on you when you are hugging them, they might be trying to let you know that they like it.

Your Dog Can Be Taught

Through positive reinforcement, you can teach your dog to not be threatened by hugs, and that they are a good thing. This is particularly helpful in homes that have small children, as they love to wrap their little arms around them. All you need to do is work on hugging your dog by giving them treats when they stay calm or lean into you.

However, remember that just because your dog likes to hug you, doesn’t mean he is going to let anyone that walks through your door hug him. Keep your eyes open for signals that your dog is uncomfortable when guests or strangers approach your canine.

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