April 10 is National Hug Your Dog Day! Does this mean you should rush home and hug your dog?
Maybe, maybe not. It definitely depends on your dog!
There are quite a few studies out there showing that dogs don’t like being hugged. This does not necessarily mean you have to believe the studies, in fact you can do your own a test with your own dog to see how they react before you, or anyone else (especially kids!) give them a hug. Much like humans, some dogs may enjoy hugs and some may not. It’s very important to understand your dog’s body language they may be showing. Respecting these signs may help to keep everybody safe, especially since our doggos can’t verbally tell us how they’re feeling.
Here are a few things to look for:
Some signs you have a dog who doesn’t mind a hug are:
- their body relaxes
- their breathing slows
- they may lean into the hug
If your dog is displaying that they don’t mind hugs, it’s probably ok to give them one. You may notice your dog shakes off, kind of like if they were wet, after a hug. According to an article in Modern Dog Magazine, shaking after something intense (good or bad) is just a way of “walking it off”.
Some signs that your dog doesn’t enjoy being hugged:
- they show the whites of their eyes
- they turn their head AWAY from the hug
- they lick their lips
- they yawn
These are all signs of stress, which could lead to a dog bite. Dogs showing stress doesn’t always mean a dog will bite, but if they are pushed over their threshold they could. Children should always be supervised around dogs for this reason, they are not great at reading body language!
Don’t take it personally though, if your dog doesn’t like receiving hugs, it could just mean that they prefer affection from you in different ways. Some pups prefer a belly rub, some cuddles or some head scratches over a hug. Again, it all depends on your pup and what they prefer.