Do you hug your dog? We do. It’s the kind of thing you do when you like someone, isn’t it? And we like our dogs, they are good mates. But how much do our dogs enjoy being hugged?
A canine behaviour scientist at the University of British Columbia has had a look at this and published his findings in Psychology Today. And it doesn’t look so good for us huggers. He analyzed a lot of photos of humans hugging their dogs and his interpretation is that about 80% of the time the dogs show signs of ‘discomfort, stress and anxiety’. When you hug dogs you remove their ability to run away from a potential threat. The signs of stress he lists: ‘things like yawning, turning the face away, the ears slicked down, raising a paw, even licking your face.’
My own investigation reveals that approximately 40% of humans (or maybe 20%, or 80%, I didn’t do much (any) research) don’t like to be hugged by dogs. Because, yes, some dogs like to hug. Brian the Boxer is a prime example. The evidence is here for you to see. Can you tell whether or not my cousin is showing signs of discomfort?