Don’t Hug The Dog

A reknowned dog trainer made an epic point the other day. During research, he discovered that dogs don’t like to be hugged!

A juggernaut of a discovery – especially since hugging is one of the main reasons people have their dogs, I am sure!

He looked at hundreds of photographs of dogs being hugged by their people, and realized that the vast majority were displaying signs of stress. Yawning. Ears back. Pulling away.

Who’da thunk it?

Unless you’re a dog.

He argues that a dog being hugged likens that to being attacked in some way. To being repressed, and held back from the ability to flee.

Which is incredible when you think about it – because dogs are predators. They are attackers. And yet they can also act like prey. In that they perhaps expect us to attack them. And I guess in a sense they are correct.

As humans, we fancy ourselves the alpha predators above all other creatures. We can harm on a whim.

And when you think of our pets, cats are predators, and yet can also act like prey. And when I hug my cats, I can see they are not so thrilled. Perhaps thinking they cannot flee.

Horses are prey, although I have seen some act like predators. When I hug my horse’s neck, it’s all he can do to pull away, thinking I may be wanting to sink my teeth into him.

Our pet birds are mostly prey, and yet can be predators too.  My cockatiel is especially wary of the windows where she can see big birds fly by – and yet beware the stray finger that meanders near her cage!

So it seems we can all wear many hats. Even as humans, we can sometimes be prey. Victims of other predatorial humans, or even animals.

The dog expert suggested instead of hugging our dogs, and perhaps causing them stress or even to bite in defense, we should be content with patting, petting or stroking them. Grooming them. Speaking to them. Playing fetch or other engaging interactions with them. Taking them for a walk or a ride in the car.

Something to think about, to be sure.

And, sadly, for many of us, who love hugging our pets because of the good feelings it brings to us, we may have to reconsider that form of expression for one less invasive.

I, however, will still be springing the odd hug or two on my pet cats and horse, even though I know now they may not like it as much as I need it.

And perhaps we should be saving more of our hugs for other humans.   Maybe that would make the world a much better place.


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