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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 November 11, 2019

How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

Have you ever noticed that some people are able to effortlessly remember even the most mundane details and quickly comprehend new things? Well, you can too!

To unlock the full potential of your brain, you need to keep it active and acute. Wasting time on your couch watching mindless television shows or scrolling through facebook is not going to help.

Besides getting out flashcards, what can you do to help remember things better and learn new things more quickly? Check out these 10 effective ways on how to improve memory:

1. Exercise and Get Your Body Moving

Exercising doesn’t just exercise the body, it also helps to exercise your brain. Obesity and the myriad of diseases that eventually set in as a result of being overweight can cause serious harm to the brain.

Furthermore, without regular exercise, plaque starts to build up in your arteries, and your blood vessels begin to lose the ability to effectively pump blood. Plaque buildup leads to heart attacks and it also reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients that your blood carries to your brain. When the nutrients don’t make it there, the brain’s ability to function is compromised.

To prevent this from happening, make sure you get moving every day. Even if it’s just a brisk walk, it’ll help you maintain and increase your mental acuity. Brisk walking, swimming and dancing are all excellent activities. Take a look at these 5 Ways to Find Time for Exercise.

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2. Eliminate Stressors and Seek Help If You’re Depressed

Anything that causes you major stress, like anger or anxiety, will in time begin to eat away the parts of your brain that are responsible for memory. Amongst the most brain-damaging stressors is depression, which is actually often misdiagnosed a a memory problem since one of its primary symptoms is the inability to concentrate.

If you can’t concentrate, then you might feel like you are constantly forgetting things. Depression increases the levels of cortisol in your bloodstream which elevates the cortisol levels in the brain. Doctors have found that increased cortisol diminishes certain areas of the brain, especially the hippocampus which is where short-term memories are stored.

Prolonged depression can thus destroy your brain’s ability to remember anything new. Seek professional help to combat your depression – your brain will thank you.

3. Get a Good Night’s Sleep and Take Naps

Getting a consistent 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night will increase your memory. During sleep, the brain firms up memories of recently acquired information.

Getting enough sleep will help you get through the full spectrum of nocturnal cycles that are essential to optimal brain and body functioning during the waking hours. Taking a nap throughout the day, especially after learning something new, can also help you to retain those memories as well as recharge your brain and keep it sharper longer.

4. Feed Your Brain

Fifty to sixty percent of the brain’s overall weight is pure fat, which is used to insulate its billions of nerve cells. The better insulated a cell is, the faster it can send messages and the quicker you will be thinking.

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This is precisely why parents are advised to feed their young children whole milk and to restrict dieting – their brains’ need fat to grow and work properly. Skimping on fats can be devastating even to the adult brain.

Thus, eating foods that contain a healthy mix of fats is vital for long-term memory. Some excellent food choices include fish (especially anchovies, mackerel and wild salmon) and dark leafy green vegetables. Here’re more brain food choices: 12 Foods that Can Improve Your Brain Power

Deep-fried foods obviously contain fat but their lack of nutritional value is not going to help your brain or your body, so think healthy foods and fats.

5. Eat Breakfast and Make Sure It Includes an Egg

According to Larry McCleary, M.D., author of  The Brain Trust Program, an egg is the ideal breakfast. Eggs contain B vitamins which help nerve cells to burn glucose, antioxidants that protect neurons against damage; and omega-3 fatty acids that keep nerve cells firing at optimal speed.

Other foods to add to your breakfast include fruits, veggies and lean proteins. Avoid trans fats and high fructose corn syrup. Trans fats diminish the brain cells’ ability to communicate with each other and HFCS can actually shrink the brain by damaging cells.

Having a healthy breakfast in the morning has been shown to improve performance throughout the day. If you’re too busy to have a healthy breakfast, this maybe just right for you: 33 Quick And Healthy Breakfasts For Busy Mornings

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6. Write it Down

If there’s something you want to remember, writing it down can help.

It may sound like a no-brainer, but do you really know why? Writing it down creates oxygenated blood flow to areas of your brain that a responsible for your memories and literally exercises those parts of it. Here’s How Writing Things Down Can Change Your Life.

You can start a journal, write yourself emails or even start keeping a blog – all of these activities will help to improve your capacity to remember and memorize information.

7. Listen to Music

Research shows that certain types of music are very helpful in recalling memories. Information that is learned while listening to a particular song or collection can often be recalled by thinking of the song or “playing” it mentally. Songs and music can serve as cues for pulling up particular memories.

8. Visual Concepts

In order to remember things, many people need to visualize the information they are studying.

Pay attention to photographers, charts and other graphics that might appear in your textbook; or if you’re not studying a book, try to pull up a mental image of what it is you are trying to remember. It might also help to draw your own charts or figures, or utilize colors and highlighters to group related ideas in your notes.

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Here, you can learn How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results.

9. Teach Someone Else

Reading material out loud has been shown to significantly improve memory of the material. Expanding further upon this idea is the fact that psychologists and educators have found that by having students teach new concepts to others, it helps to enhance understanding and recall.

Teach new concepts and information to a friend or study partner, and you’ll find you remember the information a lot better.

10. Do Crossword Puzzles, Read or Play Cards

Studies have shown that doing crossword puzzles, read or play cards on a daily basis not only keep your brain active but also help to delay memory loss, especially in those who develop dementia.

So pick up the daily newspaper and work on that crossword puzzle, read a book or enjoy a game of solitaire.

Pick one to two of these tips first and start applying them to your everyday life. Very soon you’ll find yourself having better memories and a clearer head!

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Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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