Why you really shouldn’t hug your dog

They aren’t people and they don’t like it, apparently

Why you really shouldn’t hug your dog

via Wikipedia

We have all experienced it - that feeling you get when you find your dog so unbelievably cute that you just want to lean over and give them a big hug.

Well, canine experts say it is not the best way to show your affection, and you should probably stop.

According to a study carried out by canine expert and professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia Dr Stanley Coren, dogs feel stressed and unhappy when they are embraced by their owners.

"Dogs are technically cursorial animals which is a term that indicates that they are designed for swift running", says Dr Coren.

"That implies that in times of stress or threat the first line of defence that a dog uses is not his teeth, but rather his ability to run away".

Dr Coren analysed photos of dogs being hugged by people - which he found online - in order to identify signs of obvious discomfort.

From the 250 sample images, he found that 81.6% of dogs pictured were displaying at least one sign of distress, 7.6% of the photographs showed comfortable dogs, and the remaining 10.8% were found to have neutral or ambiguous responses.

So, how can you tell if your dog is ok with your expression of love?

Despite the more obvious signs of distress which include bearing teeth or biting, there are some subtle clues to look out for.

The most common sign of anxiety is when the dog turns his head away to avoid eye contact.

Alternatively, dogs will show what is commonly called "half-moon eye" or "whale eye” - where you can only see the white portion of the eyes at the corner or the rim.

Other signs include lowered or slicked back ears, raising one paw, yawning, lip licking, or licking a person’s face.

The clear recommendation to come out of this research is to save your hugs for the humans in your life.

Even though you may see your pet as you furry child it is important that you do not treat them the same way, and stick to treats and head pats as a way to express your fondess.