To be honest, even I was surprised that the article I contributed to about dogs who “hate hugs” went as VIRAL as it did. The article — read it here — can now be found in Country Living Magazine, Good Housekeeping, House Beautiful and Woman’s Day magazine… and Fox & Friends did a segment about it as well.
Being part of a viral news story has been fun! Who knew telling pet parents that their beloved pooch may not love to be hugged would have sparked the response it did? For anyone outraged “OF COURSE my dog loves hugs!” — or comforted “Whew… it’s not just me!” — by that article, here’s the PART TWO:
Even If Your Dog “Hates Hugs,” It May Not Be the Hug He Hates!
It’s not that “hugging” is bad, we just need to have a better understanding of dogs and the way they interpret our behavior… as well as their innate reaction to how we approach them. Every dog is different, and the same dog may react differently in different situations.
Some dogs — like my own– just don’t like being handled or “hugged.” The gesture of hands reaching out to him, a big body hovering over him, eye to eye contact and then being squeezed does not make him feel comfortable. It actually comes to across to him as an aggressive movement and his innate response is to escape.
Other dogs — particularly well-socialized dogs who are in familiar settings with familiar family members — will tolerate a hug so well it looks like they’ve been waiting all day for your hug! It’s true that hugs cause stress in some dogs, but not in others.
This isn’t rocket science! Watching your dogs behavior and body language carefully is how you can find out what your dog is comfortable with. If they squirm (like a teenager being hugged in front of their peers) and try to get a way, newsflash: they don’t like it. If they calmly sit and groan and even move to get more comfortable, you’ve got a hugger!
Always watch for dog body language signs that will let you know how much contact is acceptable. Pay attention to the ear position of your dog, the size of the pupils, tension in face, where is the tail and body weight distribution can help you understand if your dog is relaxed, fearful, submissive or dominant.
Okay, My Dog is a Non-Hugger. Is There a Hug-Alternative?
I know your pain. As I said, I have a dog that doesn’t like hugs and I had to find an alternative form of affection that he would accept. Here are some hug-alternatives your dog will love:
- rubbing his ears,
- rubbing his chest and
- even rubbing under his chin.
I even have a special belly rub that ALL DOGS seem to love. These are all less aggressive ways to approach your dog and they may accept this as an HUG alternative.