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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 February 11, 2021

The 20 Most Creative Instagram Accounts That Will Inspire You

The 20 Most Creative Instagram Accounts That Will Inspire You

Instagram allows you to see exactly what inspires people and how creativity is drawn from their everyday life. We use Instagram to capture what makes us smile, what brings joy to our life, and what we are passionate about, and the accounts listed below are sure to inspire you in turn.

Here are our 20 top creative Instagram accounts that you should be following today.

1. Humans Of New York

Brandon Stanton walks the streets of New York City taking street photography, and he gets his subjects to open up about life details that even many family members may not know about them. It makes you smile and connect with the images at a new level.

 2.  Paris in Four Months

Carin Olsson moved to Paris and is documenting every part of her experience, from the macaroons to the Eiffel Tower with all of its shimmering lights. If you want to go to Paris but can’t get there today, Carin will take you.

3. Civilized Caveman Cooking

George Bryant offers up more than his love for cooking Paleo cuisine as he shares more about life, joy, and happiness. His coined hashtag is #hugsandbacon.

4. Andrew Knapp

Andrew has taken the world by storm with his adorable version of Where’s Waldo? His version is Find Momo, and stars his border collie.

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5. Idafrosk

Ida Skivenes has developed a knack for food art. From the world of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to Strawberry Fields Forever, she has recreated it all with food.

6. GrandmaBetty33

Grandma Betty is fighting cancer and is inspiring others to smile and be happy in life. She brings a smile to your face instantly and is like having your grandma right beside you.

7. Maya_on_the_Move

Tania Ahsan captures the world of her cute bulldog, Maya, on her adventures in New York. Maya makes appearances that will make you smile, laugh, and inspire you to go out and create something special.

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8. Leoleoparis

Leo captures the life on the streets of Paris. Most of his work is done in black and white, offering that iconic Parisian look.

9. Jacob Santiago

Jacob Santiago creates stunning, vibrant images around New York City, showcasing the architecture and streets. I’m sure you haven’t seen the streets of NYC like this before.

10. Julie’s Kitchen

Julie Lee showcases how everyday produce can create colorful art designs. At first glance, you think it is just a design; then, a second take illustrates that it is really fruits and vegetables.

11. iloveplaymo

iloveplaymo brings together photography and Playmobil toys in action. The images are up to date with current world events and everyday life.

12. “Red” Hong Yi

Red Hong Yi loves to paint without a paintbrush. Her style uses daily items to create lovely images.

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13. Alexis Diaz

A breathtaking artist from Puerto Rico who loves to paint murals. Alexis’s work is featured all over the world.

14. Murad Osmann

Murad Osmann is a music video producer, but his claim to fame on Instagram has been his photographs with his girlfriend leading him by her hand.

15. Simone Bramate

Simone Bramate is a storyteller who just so happens to take delightful photos as well.

16. Willie Kessel

Willie Kessel brings beach life right to your smartphone. Amazing surf and lifestyle images that take your mind off of all of the work and stress in your life.

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17. Nick Ulivieri

Nick Ulivieri is a talented photographer who loves to capture the windy city of Chicago and skies, especially during storms. His images are gorgeous and make you realize how wonderful life really is.

18. Jo Jerry

Jo Jerry’s landscape photos around Santorini, Greece, make you want to book a flight immediately. The bright colors and simplicity in the images make his photos stand out from the rest.

19. GoPro

GoPro uses fan-sourced images on their account that are all captured with a GoPro. Creativity to the max is used in these images and range from the grocery store to incredible surf.

20. Vin Farrell

Vin Farrell is a creative who works on the agency side for large clients and has a knack for photography. His iPhone captures amazing aerial images around NYC and the world.

Featured photo credit: Andy via flickr.com

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