Does your dog love being hugged? Dr Stanley Coren, a canine expert and professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia, thinks probably not. His study constituted big news in the online world of dogs this week. He analysed 250 pictures of dogs being hugged, and found that eight out of 10 of the animals looked uncomfortable.
How does a dog ‘look uncomfortable’? Clearly growling and teeth baring are indicators of extreme discomfort (and who would hug a snarling dog?), but there are subtle signs of doggy anxiety that all dog lovers could do with knowing if they don’t want to stress-out their four-legged friends.
– Ears folded down
– Half-moon eyes
– Head turned away to avoid eye contact
– Eyes closed
– Raising one paw
Yes, that sounds like a lot of signals to remember, but there is a simple way to think of it. Does your dog reciprocate a hug? If you’re in any doubt, look at the Do Dogs Like Hugs? YouTube clip from Clinical Animal Behaviourist Danielle Beck.
Teddy is a lap-hogger, head-nuzzler and a side-leaner – but he is not a hugger. I’ve come to realise that in this, at least, Ted is a master of restraint.