Do dogs like hugs?

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Although you might think your hound is the most huggable animal on the planet, it turns out your pooch might not appreciate getting a squeeze. 

After all, not all humans enjoy hugs. Some of us can even find it quite uncomfortable, (especially if we don’t know the person who is hugging us very well!) And sometimes, we’re simply not in the mood for a snuggle.

So is it the same for our furry friends? Do dogs like hugs, or are they just as hit and miss about being held as we humans are? Let’s take a look at whether or not our hounds love a hug.

Do dogs like hugs?

Although we humans love a hug, our furry friends aren’t always so keen. Although your dog might tolerate a hug, they probably won’t enjoy it. In fact, the majority of dogs do not like hugs.

Wrapping your arms around your dog and holding them close might feel wonderfully warm and fluffy for you, but dogs don’t get the same enjoyment from this embrace. It can even stress them out!

This is because in the world of doggy body language, putting a limb over another dog’s back is a sign of dominance. So when you wrap your arms around your dog in a hug, your doggy reads that body language as a signal of dominance or competitiveness, which to them seems intimidating rather than affectionate.

Dogs also don’t like being restricted and unable to move out of an interaction. Some dogs can find it stressful being hugged and held because they feel trapped, and they can’t get away from the interaction despite it making them uncomfortable.

Plus, some pooches just don’t like being handled or touched. And given how close and confining a hug is, it’s no wonder they can feel uncomfortable. Besides, your dog just might not be in the mood for a hug sometimes!

If you ever hug your dog you might notice that they start to display distressed body language. This can include staying still, their body becoming rigid, pinning their ears back, showing the whites of their eyes, yawning, or licking their lips.

Many dogs will learn that a hug is meant to be positive or affectionate behaviour from their humans and try to tolerate it, but it doesn’t mean they enjoy it.

On the other hand, some dogs might love a hug. And it’s safe to say that if your dog approaches you and tries to earn some affection by climbing on your lap or licking your hands, you should definitely give them a pat, scratch, or even a cuddle on the sofa.

Every dog is unique

Every dog is an individual, and whether or not they like hugs will depend on their personality and past experiences.

Because of this, every dog’s reaction to hugs might be different. Some pups might try to climb on you and press themselves close, while others might just be able to tolerate a hug with indifference. On the other hand, some dogs might react fearfully or even aggressively to being hugged.

In general though, dog’s aren’t keen on being hugged and squeezed because it doesn’t translate well into doggy body language and can make them feel trapped.

Do dogs know what a hug is?

Dogs don’t really understand hugs the way we do, which is why it confuses them. In human body language, putting your arms around someone in a hug is seen as loving and affectionate. However in doggy body language, putting your forelimbs over another dog’s is a way of asserting dominance.

Dogs don’t know what a hug is because it conflicts with their own body language. Your dog might understand you mean them no harm, but the conflicting signals can still make them uncomfortable.

There are better ways of showing your dog you love them rather than a hug. Playing with your pup and offering them healthy treats is a surefire way to show them some puppy love. As for physical affection, most dogs will much prefer a stroke, a back scratch, or a belly rub.

So even though dogs don’t like hugs, they still enjoy your love and affection and there are better ways to show them how much you love them. And despite the fact most dogs dislike hugs, they might still love a cuddle.

Do dogs like being cuddled?

It depends how you define a cuddle. If you mean a tight embrace with your arms wrapped around them, then no, your dog won’t enjoy it. (That’s more like a hug!)

However most of us “cuddle” our dogs by lying on the sofa and letting our dog lie beside us, or sitting on a chair and having our dogs curl up in our laps.

This sort of cuddling allows your dog to choose when they want affection from you, and they’re free to move away at any time, which is much more enjoyable for them. Most dogs love the physical contact and closeness with their owners, but they find cuddling much more relaxing than a hug because they know they are free to move away at any time and aren’t being restricted.

Your dog climbing in your lap and cuddling up to you is one way they will show you their love. They might also lean on you, which can sometimes be an affectionate behaviour that’s compared to a doggy hug!

Do dogs hug each other?

Dogs do not hug each other in the way we humans think of hugs. After all, you won’t see a dog approaching another and wrapping their front paws around them in an embrace.

At the very least, dogs can’t move their front legs the way we move our arms, and their front limbs are built for running rather than hugging.

Plus, hugs aren’t a part of doggy body language. Normally if a dog jumps up and puts their forelimbs around or over the top of another dog, it’s trying to tell the dog underneath them that they’re below them in the social hierarchy too.

There are loads of viral videos that show dogs “hugging” other dogs, but this is a trained behaviour. These dogs have been taught to “hug” another dog on command, just like you’d teach a dog to give you a paw, or to roll over. Your dog won’t perform this behaviour naturally or unprompted.

So, dogs don’t hug, but they do show their furry friends they love them in other ways.

Your dog might lick or nuzzle another dog as a sign of affection. Dogs will also groom other dogs to show their love, and as a way to keep the other pooch clean and parasite-free. They will also play with other dogs if they enjoy their company. And if they really trust one another and feel safe together, they might sleep curled up together.

Should I hug my dog?

A tight hug like we humans have probably won’t be your dog’s favourite form of affection, so we will advise against giving your dog a big embrace.

However, if your dog approaches you, rubs against you or licks your hands looking for affection, you should absolutely show that puppy some loving!

You can stroke your dog, scratch their back, or rub their belly. If you are sitting down or lying down and your dog jumps up to join you, let them stay there and give them a big fuss. Just don’t hold them too tightly because this can make them feel trapped and stressed.

The important thing is that your dog comes to you for physical affection. If they’ve approached you, they’re giving their consent for handling and are in the mood for some snuggling and stroking, so are more likely to react positively and to stay relaxed. It also means you can take their cues and give them affection in a way that they enjoy.

Meanwhile if you just approach your dog and hug them tight, they might not be in the mood for it, or they just might not like it, and might react negatively. Just like us humans, our dogs have different ways of showing their love and sometimes just aren’t in the mood for a cuddle.

Follow your canine’s body language and cues, and dish out that puppy love when you know you'll both enjoy it!