Dogs Hate It When We Hug Them, Expert Says

Photo (cc) by _tar0_

Not only is hugging dogs likely to stress them out, but it also increases your chances of getting bitten.

Stanley Coren, professor emeritus in the psychology department at the University of British Columbia, says this is because dogs are technically cursorial animals, meaning they are designed for swift running.

Coren writes in a recent article in the magazine Psychology Today:

“That implies that in times of stress or threat the first line of defense that a dog uses is not his teeth, but rather his ability to run away. Behaviorists believe that depriving a dog of that course of action by immobilizing him with a hug can increase his stress level and, if the dog’s anxiety becomes significantly intense, he may bite.”

Coren’s expertise includes canine behavior and human/animal bonding. He has written numerous books about dogs with titles such as “How Dogs Think.”

Coren says that while the idea that dogs dislike hugs is “widely accepted,” it has been studied “very little.” So he did his own experiment.

He selected a random sample of 250 online photos of adults or children hugging dogs, which he then analyzed to determine whether the dogs were showing signs of stress or anxiety.

The situations in the photos fell into one of three categories:

  • One could judge that the dog was showing one or more signs of stress or anxiety — which accounted for 81.6 percent of the photos
  • One could judge that the dog appeared to be relaxed and at ease — 7.6 percent
  • One could tell that the dog’s response was ambiguous or neutral — 10.8 percent

Coren concludes his article:

“The clear recommendation to come out of this research is to save your hugs for your two-footed family members and lovers. 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.”

If you’re wondering whether you’re stressing out your dog, Coren reports that well-established, observable signs of stress and anxiety in dogs include:

  • Turning the head away from whatever is bothering or worrying the dog (most common sign), sometimes also closing the eyes at least partially
  • Ears lowered or slicked against the side of the head (common sign)
  • “Half-moon eye” or “whale eye,” which is when the white portion of the eye is visible at the corner or the rim
  • Bared teeth (extreme sign)

What’s your take on this news? Will you hug your dog in the future? Let us know what you think below or on Facebook.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
10 Things That Can Ding Your Social Security Payments
10 Things That Can Ding Your Social Security Payments

Here are 10 things that could mean less money in your pocket during retirement.

10 Food Staples That Are Easy and Cheap to Make Yourself
10 Food Staples That Are Easy and Cheap to Make Yourself

Making any of these key foods yourself will improve meals — and your budget.

Never Buy These 10 Things With Your Credit Card
Never Buy These 10 Things With Your Credit Card

Credit cards offer many conveniences and protections, but sometimes it’s simply smarter to keep the plastic tucked away.

7 Surprising Advantages of Downsizing as a Retiree
7 Surprising Advantages of Downsizing as a Retiree

Downsizing your home offers many benefits, including some you may not have anticipated.

21 Thrift Store Gems You Can Cash In On
21 Thrift Store Gems You Can Cash In On

Here’s what to look for at that overstuffed thrift store — and how you can make money from it.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
10 Things Frugal People Never Buy
10 Things Frugal People Never Buy

If you’re a true tightwad, the mere thought of spending money on these items gives you the willies.

10 Useless Purchases You Need to Stop Making
10 Useless Purchases You Need to Stop Making

You might as well flush your money down the loo if you spend it on these things.

7 Social Security Rules Everyone Should Know by Now
7 Social Security Rules Everyone Should Know by Now

Confusion over Social Security is a shame, considering how many of us will need this money badly.

If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It
If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It

They don’t make coffee makers like this anymore.

7 Social Security Benefits You May Be Overlooking
7 Social Security Benefits You May Be Overlooking

There’s more to Social Security than retirement benefits.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

14 Things You Should Stop Buying in 2021
14 Things You Should Stop Buying in 2021

These convenient household products come with hidden costs that you might not have considered.

The 6 Best Investing Apps for Beginners
The 6 Best Investing Apps for Beginners

If you’re looking to ease into investing in the coronavirus economy with just a little money, check out these easy-to-use tools.

Is Writing a Check Still Safe?
Is Writing a Check Still Safe?

Every time you pay by check, you hand your bank account numbers to a stranger.

8 Things You Should Replace to Improve Your Life Today
8 Things You Should Replace to Improve Your Life Today

Being frugal isn’t smart if you put off replacing these items.

6 Ways to Protect Your Retirement Accounts From Hackers
6 Ways to Protect Your Retirement Accounts From Hackers

Imagine having $245,000 stolen from your retirement account — and not being reimbursed.

9 Mistakes People Make When Cleaning With Vinegar
9 Mistakes People Make When Cleaning With Vinegar

Cleaning with vinegar can save you a lot of money, but using it like this can cost you.

13 Amazon Purchases We Are Loving Right Now
13 Amazon Purchases We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

7 Income Tax Breaks That Retirees Often Overlook
7 Income Tax Breaks That Retirees Often Overlook

Did you realize all these tax credits and deductions exist — or that they apply to retirees?

7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

7 Hidden Sections of Amazon Every Shopper Should Know
7 Hidden Sections of Amazon Every Shopper Should Know

These little-known departments of Amazon are gold mines for deal-seekers and impulse shoppers alike.

7 Costly Health Problems That Strike After Age 50
7 Costly Health Problems That Strike After Age 50

As we age, our bodies wear down. Here is how to cut costs associated with some common ailments.

7 Things I Never Buy at Costco
7 Things I Never Buy at Costco

A bulk buy isn’t always the best buy.

Homeowners Say These 2 Kitchen Appliance Brands Are Best
Homeowners Say These 2 Kitchen Appliance Brands Are Best

One brand takes five of the top honors, while another ranks highest in three categories.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.