Too much puppy love? UBC researcher says most dogs don't like hugs
Penny Daflos and Kendra Mangione, CTV Vancouver
Published Tuesday, April 26, 2016 6:20PM PDT
Man's best friend may actually feel like you're giving too much puppy love, a UBC researcher says.
Though some dogs may be alright with cuddling after a long day, most canines don't enjoy being hugged, according to renowned dog psychologist and UBC Emeritus Prof. Stanley Coren.
Coren told CTV News that his research showed four of every five dogs exhibit signs of stress when being hugged by humans.
"If you go onto the Internet you will find literally thousands of photos of very happy people with very stressed dogs," Coren said Tuesday.
He said he noticed signs of stress in 82 per cent of the images of people hugging dogs.
Though the research may seem trivial, Coren said it is actually a matter of safety. Dogs may feel threatened by hugs, and lash out if they feel that they can't run away.
"That is one of the precipitating factors when kids get bitten by dogs," he said.
Coren said he first noticed a reaction when he observed a group of dogs brought to the British Columbia Institute of Technology to help students de-stress.
He said he saw students hugging the dogs, but ironically the dogs began to look stressed.
"A dog who is under stress will yawn. He will turn his head away from whatever source is stressing him. His ears will slick back. His eyes will be averted so sometimes they'll be half-closed," Coren said.
Coren said he isn't suggesting owners stop hugging their dogs, but that they should consider expressing affection in other ways.
"You can give them a pat. You can talk to them in that 'sing-song' voice that we use for our dogs," he suggested.
Mixed reaction from dog owners
CTV News conducted an informal survey in Vancouver to see what dog owners thought of Coren's theory.
Most people said they believe that dogs love a good snuggle, but some said they'd noticed signs of discomfort in certain situations
"I don't believe that at all. I think dogs love hugs, and I know personally, I love hugs too," a dog owner named Brandi said.
She said her dog loves hugs and will jump up for more, but suggested that dogs' discomfort might depend on the situation.
"It's also how you approach the dog. Was the dog eating at the time? Was it playing with its favourite toy?"
Oreana said her dog Kala loves hugs, but "you can read from them when you need to stop."
Blue's owner, Ian, said his dog doesn't like being held close, and backs away or resists.
"I think breed of dog has a lot to do with it," Ian said.
"Yesterday we were at a friend's house and she had a miniature pinscher or something and it was just a suck. It would lay in your arms, belly up, and loved hugs."
Jessica said agreed, saying her dog Mavis is very cuddly, and that pugs in general seem to be affectionate.
With a report from CTV Vancouver's Penny Daflos