The Hullabaloo Over Hugging your Dog
You may have seen a series of article recently regarding the advisability of hugging your dog. In the initial article titled “The Data Says “Don’t Hug the Dog!”, Dr. Stanley Coren, a renowned animal psychologist undertook his own, informal study to investigate dogs reactions to hugging. His findings (of a random sample of photos of 250 dogs with their humans found on the internet) showed that 81% of the dogs showed some sign of distress when being hugged. They pointed to typical fearful or anxious behaviors such as “whale eye”, lip licking, yawning or a head turn in the subject animals to support his findings.
While I usually agree with Dr. Coren’s opinions and learn a lot from his books and articles, this particular theory got a lot of push back from dog people with photos of a perfectly content dog being hugged.
Dr. Coren himself stated this was NOT a peer-reviewed study, it was a “set of casual observations” and as usual, the internet did it’s thing of over-exaggerating and sensationalizing a story.
There are any number of follow-ups to Dr. Coren’s piece that bring a little more sanity to the topic:
- Hugging a Dog Is Just Fine When Done With Great Care
- No, ‘science’ didn’t ‘prove’ that dogs hate hugs
- To Hug or Not to Hug?
- Let’s Not Hug It Out With Our Dogs
- Why dogs don’t like to be hugged
- Your Dog Hates Hugs
The bottomline is, as with anything, you do what is right for the individual dog. Some dog’s like it and some don’t – just like some people are very touchy-feely and some are not. Jack LOVES to be pet and hugged and snuggled. Maggie hates it. I hug Jack all the time and never hug Maggie. I’d like to, because I love her to pieces, but I know that she doesn’t like it, so her feelings are more important.
Take your cues from your dog – not the internet.