Hugging Your Dog: Should You or Shouldn’t You?

National “Hug Your Hound Day” is coming up. As it turns out, many canine behaviorists think that hugging a dog is not such a good idea. The science doesn’t support it, hugs are human things, dogs can feel threatened if restrained, and on and on.

Here’s my take on it. You may or may not agree.

man hugs dogIn general, dogs don’t like hugging. Hugging and kissing are human things, and in some cases, a restraining hug can make a dog feel very uncomfortable. But, with proper training, you can teach your dog to tolerate a hug, and if you pair it with something the dog likes, hugs can become a reinforcer for the dog.

Reasons for teaching a dog you know to tolerate a hug include:

* Accepting hugs can be a part of a training program related to grooming and handling by veterinarians. Sometimes these professionals need to reach over or hold the dog.

* Responding acceptably to a hug might be important for some therapy dog settings where a child may suddenly attempt to hug the dog

* Dog owners love their dogs and giving the dog a hug can make the owner feel better. “Dear Dog, I feed you, walk you, play with you, and throw the tennis ball for hours. If I want to hug you every now and then after a rough day, that is what we going to do.”

Let us know what you think about hugging dogs either here or on the CGC Facebook page.

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About Canine Good Citizen

AKC Canine Good Citizen Director, Author of the AKC's official CGC book, "CITIZEN CANINE"
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