Cuddling your dog? It may not be a mutually pleasant experience!

We are crazy about dogs! They’re the best! So warm, soft, and adorable, is a natural impulse to want to pick them up and squeeze them, covering them in kisses. We get it! But is it a good idea? We are going to offer some evidence that while not popular, is essential to know. 

Hugging your dog is not conveying the feelings of love and affection to them as you would like and hope. 

Let’s think about this from the dog’s point of view: to them, you are a very strange breed of dog that walks around on two legs. The two of you don't always speak the same language, but there is general good will, affection, and a bond. If the dog could speak verbally, it might be able to let you know of their preferences. So instead, they attempt to let you know in their own language, non-verbally and with their body language. 

Here are some of the signs of discomfort that puppy may display when you hug them:

  • Tail tucking
  • Ears lowered 
  • Whale Eyes
  • Head turned to the side
  • Frozen or stiff legged

After all, despite your intention when hugged, puppy is now wrapped up immobilized in your arms, or if larger sized, pinned into a position not of their own will. In the doggy world, when one dog pins another, it is in the context of play fighting, which can, in some circumstances, turn on a dime into real fighting, meaning a nip or bite.  Pinning down in the dog world is seen as a show of dominance, not affection. 

Of course, there are some exceptions to the amount of discomfort or stress that the dog will display or experience, given the strength of the bond between you and your dog. Most likely, your dog or puppy because of their love for you, will tolerate your (in their eyes) pushy behavior. We are extremely lucky that dogs are vibrationally perceptive, and most of the time they will give you the benefit of the doubt. 

How can we convey love and affection to our dogs if hugging and cuddling are something stressful and not enjoyable? 

Here are a few suggestions: 

  • Petting or stroking them
  • Walking with them
  • Engaging with them on their terms

By letting the dog set the terms of engagement and closeness, it conveys mutual respect, which will increase and strengthen the loving bond between you two, and everyone wins!