In the latest news from Buzzkill Central: Scientists are now claiming dogs don’t like hugs.
According to Psychology Today, Stanley Coren of canine studies at University of British Columbia has found that while dogs like most human contact, hugging gives them some serious stress.
While this news will come as a shock to many dog owners, Coren says the clues have always been there in canine body language. Dogs often turn their heads away from whatever is giving them anxiety, sometimes closing their eyes, which is a behavior you can often see in pooches being hugged. Pups also show the whites of their eyes and lower their ears to the sides of their heads when they start feeling stressed; two more cues that often pop up when dogs are being embraced.
Coren reinforced this point with a basic data collection exercise, where he and his team combed through Flickr photos for the terms “hug dog” and “love dog.” Of the hundreds of photos that showed dog receiving hugs from humans looked at by the team, 82 percent of the photos featured a dog showing noticeable signs of distress.
“Dogs are technically cursorial animals, which is a term that indicates that they are designed for swift running. That implies that in times of stress or threat the first line of defense that a dog uses is not his teeth, but rather his ability to run away,” Coren explains. “Behaviorists believe that depriving a dog of that course of action by immobilizing him with a hug can increase his stress level.”
Don’t let this wig you out too much. Dogs still love LOVE, they just prefer that it comes in the form of a belly rub, head pat or delicious treat.