Do Dogs Like Hugs?
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Most humans recognize a hug as a sign of affection and friendship. In an IAMS™ survey*, 83% of dog parents say their dog likes hugs too. But how do dogs feel about them? Bring it in! We’re going to try and get our arms around this question.
Dogs don’t like hugs: Spoiler alert
Sure, some dogs enjoy a good canine cuddle, but usually only with their owner or household members. Otherwise, they don’t really care for it. “Hugging is too much and overwhelming for many dogs and should be discouraged if the dog doesn’t know the individual very well,” advises
Opens a new windowJames Serpell, B.S., Ph.D., Professor of Humane Ethics & Animal Welfare at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine.
There are a number of reasons for this:
Four legs vs. two
Hugging is a human behavior, not a dog behavior. They’re just not physically built for that kind of interaction. We stand upright, so we face people. Dogs are on all fours, so it’s an unnatural act for them. They much prefer a friendly sniff to greet other dogs.
To dogs, a hug is seen as a very dominant form of behavior; it feels like a stranger is trying to assert control over them. It can be quite stressful, especially if done by someone they’re not familiar with.
Since ancient dog days, canines’ first instinctive line of defense has been to run away from danger. Hugging takes this primal option away and can make them feel trapped and confined. Remember when you were a kid getting hugged by that loud great aunt you’ve never met at your dad’s second cousin’s wedding? That’s kind of what your dog is feeling. Who is this? What are they doing? They want to escape too.
Signs your dog does not like hugs
You can usually tell by their body language, says
Opens a new windowDr. Jo Gale, BVetMed CertLAS MRCVS, Senior Manager, Global Science Advocacy at Waltham Petcare Science Institute: “Watch for trembling, trying to get away, raised hackles or whites around their eyes. It’s very important to pay attention to this behavior and respect it.”
Alternatives to hugging your dog
Don’t worry if your dog doesn’t want to hug it out. There are plenty of healthier ways you can show them you’re still their best friend:
- Pet them or give them a good, relaxing brush.
- Take them on walks or play a game with their favorite toy.
- Give them their favorite food or treats.
- Give them a verbal hug. Tell them they’re a “good boy” or a “good girl.” They never get tired of that.
*Surveyed U.S. dog owners, age 18+
Sample Size: n=201
Fielded May 8-10, 2020
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- adp_description_block1604 Tips for Changing Your Dog’s Diet
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Switching your dog to a new food takes some planning. Because dogs are creatures of habit, they tend to prefer their current food to a new food. Like us, they become accustomed to a food and might not be thrilled about a new routine. These useful dog-feeding tips will help you keep your dog satisfied.
4 Tips to Successfully Transition Your Dog to a New Food
1. Introduce the new food gradually.
When easing your dog into a change in diet, think “slow and steady.” Start by mixing 25% new food with 75% current food. Slowly change the proportions over the next three days or so by gradually increasing the new food and lessening the amount of the current food. Here’s a sample feeding schedule:
- Day 1: 25% new food, 75% current food
- Day 2: 50% new food, 50% current food
- Day 3: 75% new food, 25% current food
At the end of this weaning process, you should be feeding 100% of the new food. Your dog may want to eat only the old food, or not eat at all. Don’t worry — a healthy dog can miss meals for a day or two with no ill effects.
2. Watch your body language.
Bringing a new food into your home, pouring it into your dog’s bowl and declaring that he should eat it might cause your dog to go on a hunger strike. This is not the time to show who’s boss. It’s better to introduce the new food by using a pleasant tone of voice and gently encouraging him to try the new food.
3. Don't give in to demands.
Persistence is key! For the first two days of the food transition, don’t give your dog treats or table scraps. Dogs train us as much as we train them. Giving in to their demands only reinforces refusal behavior and makes it more difficult to make a nutritious dietary change.
4. Be patient when switching from wet food to dry food.
Switching diets may be more challenging when changing from a moist food to a dry food. If your dog continues to resist eating dry food, mix in a little warm water. You might even want to put the moistened food in the microwave for a few seconds. If you mix the food with water, be sure to throw away the uneaten portion after 20 minutes to prevent spoilage. The same rule applies for canned and pouch food. After the dog has become accustomed to the moistened food, you can wean him onto completely dry food. To do this, follow the same mixing instructions outlined above.
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