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Hugging Your Dog Could Be Upsetting Them, Here’s Why

Hugging Your Dog Could Be Upsetting Them, Here’s Why

Many of us may enjoy curling up with and hugging our dog on the couch after a long day at work, but this enjoyment may prove to be one sided. An article published in Psychology Today entitled “Don’t Hug the Dog” by Dr. Stanley Coren argues that by hugging your canine friend you may be causing him anxiety. This idea has also been voiced by Clair Mathews, senior canine behaviorist at Battersea dog and cat home and Caroline Kisko, kennel club secretary.

Dr. Coren a canine expert and professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia writes that dogs are cursorial animals, which means they are designed for swift running. He states: “Behaviorists believe that depriving a dog of that course of action by immobilizing him with a hug can increase his stress level”.

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Dr. Coren took a random sample of 250 pictures of adults and children hugging dogs. He sourced the pictures from the internet. He gave each picture one of three possible scores:

  1. One could judge that the dog was showing one or more signs of stress or anxiety
  2. One could judge that the dog appeared to be relaxed and at ease
  3. One could decide that the dog’s response was ambiguous or neutral

Dr. Coren states that signs of a dog’s anxiety include:

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  • turning the head away from what is worrying them
  • partially or fully closing their eyes
  • showing the white portion of the eyes at the corner of the rim
  • lowering of ears
  • lip licking
  • yawning
  • baring of the dog’s teeth

Dr. Coren found that 81.6% of the photographs showed dogs who exhibited at least one sign of stress or anxiety. 7.6% of the photographs depicted dogs that were happy to be hugged and 10.8% showed dogs who portrayed a neutral or ambiguous response to the hugging. Thus, Dr. Coren concluded that four out of five dogs find hugging unpleasant or  anxiety provoking.

Dr. Coren notes: “The clear recommendation to come out of this research is to save your hugs for your two footed family members…” and “express your fondness for your pet with a pat, a kind word,  and maybe a treat”.

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Claire Matthews says: “A hug might be a normal social greeting for humans but it isn’t  for a dog.”

She notes that people may not notice that a dog is feeling stressed or anxious and this could lead to an undesired reaction from the dog. Although many of us may think we are making the dog feel good when we are hugging it, Matthews notes that the dog will tolerate a hug rather than enjoy it.

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Furthermore Matthew notes: “When you hug a dog it usually show signs of stress because it invades their personal space – a person putting two arms around the neck of a dog can be interpreted as being intimidating and means that it can’t move away from the situation it is uncomfortable with.”

Caroline Kisko, concurs with this sentiment and adds: “On the whole dogs are sociable animals and love interacting with people, but any action that restricts a dog’s movement could make them uncomfortable and it is important for an owner to recognise the signs of  stress or anxiety.”

Rather than showing your affection for your dog through hugging try a gentle pat. Understanding that dogs are different to humans is crucial. It is important to be able to read your dog’s behavior so as to know when he is happy or anxious. This will help you get along better with your canine friend and make sure that both of you feel comfortable and happy — and knowing that you’re both happy can be just as good as a hug, any day!

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Rebecca Beris

Rebecca is a wellness and lifestyle writer at Lifehack.

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Last Updated on January 3, 2020

The 10 Essential Habits of Positive People

The 10 Essential Habits of Positive People

Are you waiting for life events to turn out the way you want so that you can feel more positive about your life? Do you find yourself having pre-conditions to your sense of well-being, thinking that certain things must happen for you to be happier? Do you think there is no way that your life stresses can make you anything other than “stressed out” and that other people just don’t understand?  If your answer is “yes” to any of these questions, you might find yourself lingering in the land of negativity for too long!

The following are some tips to keep positive no matter what comes your way. This post will help you stop looking for what psychologists call “positivity” in all the wrong places!  Here are the ten essential habits of positive people.

1. Positive people don’t confuse quitting with letting go.

Instead of hanging on to ideas, beliefs, and even people that are no longer healthy for them, they trust their judgement to let go of negative forces in their lives.  Especially in terms of relationships, they subscribe to The Relationship Prayer which goes:

 I will grant myself the ability to trust the healthy people in my life … 

To set limits with, or let go of, the negative ones … 

And to have the wisdom to know the DIFFERENCE!

 2.  Positive people don’t just have a good day – they make a good day.

Waiting, hoping and wishing seldom have a place in the vocabulary of positive individuals. Rather, they use strong words that are pro-active and not reactive. Passivity leads to a lack of involvement, while positive people get very involved in constructing their lives. They work to make changes to feel better in tough times rather than wish their feelings away.

3. For the positive person, the past stays in the past.

Good and bad memories alike stay where they belong – in the past where they happened. They don’t spend much time pining for the good ol’ days because they are too busy making new memories now. The negative pulls from the past are used not for self-flagellation or unproductive regret, but rather productive regret where they use lessons learned as stepping stones towards a better future.

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4. Show me a positive person and I can show you a grateful person.

The most positive people are the most grateful people.  They do not focus on the potholes of their lives.  They focus on the pot of gold that awaits them every day, with new smells, sights, feelings and experiences.  They see life as a treasure chest full of wonder.

5. Rather than being stuck in their limitations, positive people are energized by their possibilities.

Optimistic people focus on what they can do, not what they can’t do.  They are not fooled to think that there is a perfect solution to every problem, and are confident that there are many solutions and possibilities.  They are not afraid to attempt new solutions to old problems, rather than spin their wheels expecting things to be different this time.  They refuse to be like Charlie Brown expecting that this time Lucy will not pull the football from him!

6. Positive people do not let their fears interfere with their lives!

Positive people have observed that those who are defined and pulled back by their fears never really truly live a full life. While proceeding with appropriate caution, they do not let fear keep them from trying new things. They realize that even failures are necessary steps for a successful life. They have confidence that they can get back up when they are knocked down by life events or their own mistakes, due to a strong belief in their personal resilience.

7. Positive people smile a lot!

When you feel positive on the inside it is like you are smiling from within, and these smiles are contagious. Furthermore, the more others are with positive people, the more they tend to smile too! They see the lightness in life, and have a sense of humor even when it is about themselves. Positive people have a high degree of self-respect, but refuse to take themselves too seriously!

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8. People who are positive are great communicators.

They realize that assertive, confident communication is the only way to connect with others in everyday life.  They avoid judgmental, angry interchanges, and do not let someone else’s blow up give them a reason to react in kind. Rather, they express themselves with tact and finesse.  They also refuse to be non-assertive and let people push them around. They refuse to own problems that belong to someone else.

9. Positive people realize that if you live long enough, there are times for great pain and sadness.

One of the most common misperceptions about positive people is that to be positive, you must always be happy. This can not be further from the truth. Anyone who has any depth at all is certainly not happy all the time.  Being sad, angry, disappointed are all essential emotions in life. How else would you ever develop empathy for others if you lived a life of denial and shallow emotions? Positive people do not run from the gamut of emotions, and accept that part of the healing process is to allow themselves to experience all types of feelings, not only the happy ones. A positive person always holds the hope that there is light at the end of the darkness.  

10. Positive person are empowered people – they refuse to blame others and are not victims in life.

Positive people seek the help and support of others who are supportive and safe.They limit interactions with those who are toxic in any manner, even if it comes to legal action and physical estrangement such as in the case of abuse. They have identified their own basic human rights, and they respect themselves too much to play the part of a victim. There is no place for holding grudges with a positive mindset. Forgiveness helps positive people become better, not bitter.

How about you?  How many habits of positive people do you personally find in yourself?  If you lack even a few of these 10 essential habits, you might find that the expected treasure at the end of the rainbow was not all that it was cracked up to be. How could it — if you keep on bringing a negative attitude around?

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I wish you well in keeping positive, because as we all know, there is certainly nothing positive about being negative!

Featured photo credit: Janaína Castelo Branco via flickr.com

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