Most humans recognize a hug as a sign of affection and friendship. In an IAMS™ survey*, 83% of dog parents say their dog likes hugs too. But how do dogs feel about them? Bring it in! We’re going to try and get our arms around this question.
Dogs don’t like hugs: Spoiler alert
Sure, some dogs enjoy a good canine cuddle, but usually only with their owner or household members. Otherwise, they don’t really care for it. “Hugging is too much and overwhelming for many dogs and should be discouraged if the dog doesn’t know the individual very well,” advises
Opens a new windowJames Serpell, B.S., Ph.D., Professor of Humane Ethics & Animal Welfare at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine.
There are a number of reasons for this:
Four legs vs. two
Hugging is a human behavior, not a dog behavior. They’re just not physically built for that kind of interaction. We stand upright, so we face people. Dogs are on all fours, so it’s an unnatural act for them. They much prefer a friendly sniff to greet other dogs.
To dogs, a hug is seen as a very dominant form of behavior; it feels like a stranger is trying to assert control over them. It can be quite stressful, especially if done by someone they’re not familiar with.
Since ancient dog days, canines’ first instinctive line of defense has been to run away from danger. Hugging takes this primal option away and can make them feel trapped and confined. Remember when you were a kid getting hugged by that loud great aunt you’ve never met at your dad’s second cousin’s wedding? That’s kind of what your dog is feeling. Who is this? What are they doing? They want to escape too.
Signs your dog does not like hugs
You can usually tell by their body language, says
Opens a new windowDr. Jo Gale, BVetMed CertLAS MRCVS, Senior Manager, Global Science Advocacy at Waltham Petcare Science Institute: “Watch for trembling, trying to get away, raised hackles or whites around their eyes. It’s very important to pay attention to this behavior and respect it.”
Alternatives to hugging your dog
Don’t worry if your dog doesn’t want to hug it out. There are plenty of healthier ways you can show them you’re still their best friend:
- Pet them or give them a good, relaxing brush.
- Take them on walks or play a game with their favorite toy.
- Give them their favorite food or treats.
- Give them a verbal hug. Tell them they’re a “good boy” or a “good girl.” They never get tired of that.
*Surveyed U.S. dog owners, age 18+
Sample Size: n=201
Fielded May 8-10, 2020
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How much do you know about the food you’re buying for your puppy? When shopping for puppy food, pay attention to these three sections of a dog food label.
1. The Ingredient Panel
This section lists all the ingredients that make up the product. The ingredients are listed in descending order according to weight before cooking. In dry food, look for a source of high-quality animal-based protein: chicken or lamb, for example. Dogs thrive on animal proteins.
Manufacturers who use large amounts of vegetable proteins might be saving money by providing basic — but not optimal — nutrition. You should also avoid artificial colors and flavors, which offer no nutritional benefits.
2. The Guaranteed Analysis
Near the ingredient panel should be a chart of percentages called the "guaranteed analysis." These figures reveal the basic nutrient makeup of the dog food's formula and protein content. The minimum percentages of protein and fat and the maximum percentages of fiber and moisture (water) should be listed.
3. The Manufacturer’s Name and Address
This information must be included on the label by law. A toll-free number or web address for the manufacturer may also be listed. Manufacturers who list a phone number, such as IAMS™, generally have a high-quality product and welcome consumer calls and questions. If you would like information about IAMS products, visit our website or call us toll-free at 800-525-4267.
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