Many of us revel in the warmth of hugs, but your dog doesn’t feel the same way, according to a University of British Columbia psychology professor and resident doggy expert who blogged about his findings in Psychology Today.
Stanley Coren first noticed the phenomenon when he volunteered his dog for a “doggy de-stress” day held on campus, an event that allows students to unwind by interacting with some adorable pups. A woman hugged his dog and he immediately noticed stress signs – turning his head to break eye contact, flat ears, and a small yawn.
To prove a generally accepted theory (that dogs don’t want to be hugged), Coren took to the internet, collected 250 pictures of people hugging dogs, and found that in 81% of the photographs, the dogs showed signs of stress.
“Only 7.6% of the photographs could rate as showing dogs that were comfortable with being hugged. The remaining 10.8% of the dogs either were showing neutral or ambiguous responses to this form of physical contact,” writes Coren.
All in all, a dog’s first response to danger is to run away, says Coren, and if that’s restricted, their first instinct could be to bite you.
So what’s the message here? Don’t hug your dog. Or anyone else’s dog. They love you, but they don’t love the way you show affection.