“I’m not necessarily a cuddle bug.”
Last spring, a rather devastating headline hit the news cycle: “Dogs Don’t Like to Be Hugged.” In a widely-cited blog post for Psychology Today, Dr. Stanley Coren analyzed 250 pictures of people hugging dogs on the Internet and concluded that, in the majority instances, the dogs were showing clear signs of stress and anxiety. They weren’t feeling the love—they were simply feeling trapped.
So, does your dog enjoy cuddle sessions as much as you do? If you don’t know, simply ask, says Caroline Spark, a certified animal behavior consultant.
“When you stop cuddling, what happens? Lip licking, turning away, shaking off, moving as soon as you stop, not coming back for more—these are all signs that cuddles aren’t your dog’s favorite thing,” she says. “If your dog leans in and snuggles up, paws at you or comes back for more, you have a cuddle hound!”
Regardless of your dog’s snuggling preferences, Spark says that young children shouldn’t give hugs to dogs. If the dog does become stressed and reacts, a child’s face is right at bite height.