An increasing number of dog blogs and posts on lists advise against hugging dogs. The argument is that dogs don’t hug each other, hugging is a human thing, hugging shows a lack of respect for dogs, and sometimes hugging can be dangerous. I saw a few posts on lists today advising against hugging dogs.
You can probably guess where this is going. Do I hug Wyn? You bet I do. I raised him from a puppy, he was handled every single day, and I feel confident that I can trust him. When I come home and give Wyn a hug, he appears to like it, completely unaware of the current trend that says he shouldn’t. He wags his tail, wiggles his body, and leans into me. If I stop hugging, he doesn’t leave.
It could be that I have conditioned hugging to be a positive experience for my dog. I usually rub his chest or scratch under his chin at the same time. It’s not prolonged, just a quick greeting during which I get to hug the dog I love.
Should we be going around the world hugging all dogs? Absolutely not. The television reporter who leaned into a dog she never met before to give him a hug and a kiss will confirm this. She nearly lost her upper lip on camera.
There may be breeds that are not as huggable as my mild-mannered spaniel. And there may be individual dogs with a temperament or learning history (e.g., rescue or adopted dogs) that would make hugging not the smartest thing to do.
But as for the across-the-board-no-exceptions advice, “Never hug a dog,” I’m just not buying it. I raised my dog from a puppy, he was handled every day, he is a biddable breed, and he’s had advanced training in several areas.
What do you think about this? Do you hug your dog?