An article published in Psychology Today claims dogs find physical contact - including hugs - stressing and gives them anxiety. Stanely Coren, who studies canine behavior at the University of British Columbia, says an embrace between humans signals warmth and affection, but dogs are not humans.
Coren explains the hug in nature is restrictive and may annoy or frighten a dog. The signs of stress and anxiety in dogs are well established, and are easily observable, at least by trained individuals.
These signs and other similar ones should be easy to detect in stressed dogs:
- turns head away from whatever is bothering it
- closing eyes, at least partially
- show white portion of the eyes at the corner or the rim
- ears are lowered or slicked against the side of its head
- lip licking or licking a person's face
- raising one paw
- bare teeth
The data shows that while few dogs may like being hugged, more than four out of five dogs find it unpleasant.
"The clear recommendation to come out of this research is to save your hugs for your two-footed family members and lovers" Coren wrote. "It is clearly better from the dog's point of view if you express your fondness for your pet with a pat, a kind word, and maybe a treat."