Bad news dog lovers: science is here again to ruin to your day.
You know when you just fancy giving your dog a hug? Not that we have a dog, but for those of you who do. Well, apparently your dogs hates that. A lot.
In an article published earlier this month in Psychology Today, Dr. Stanley Coren, a professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia who frequently writes about canine behaviors, argues that dogs almost always exhibit cues of discomfort or stress when they are being hugged or embraced by humans.
Coren examined 250 random photographs of people (both adults and children) hugging dogs, taking note of the animal's appearance and expression in each picture. As he says, in a large majority of the photos, the animals' body language doesn't lie: they do not like being hugged. In most pictures, the dogs show signs like eye contact avoidance or lowered ears, generally suggesting they are feeling stressed out by the affection. He writes:
In all, 81.6% of the photographs researchers scored showed dogs who were giving off at least one sign of discomfort, stress, or anxiety. Only 7.6% of the photographs could rate as showing dogs that were comfortable with being hugged. The remaining 10.8% of the dogs either were showing neutral or ambiguous responses to this form of physical contact.
Now, it is possible that your dog is one of the exceptions to this rule, but generally speaking, Coren advises that rather than smothering your dog, you show your appreciation with playtime or a treat.