The next time you want to show your dog some love, you might want to keep your distance. Your dog doesn’t want your hugs, according to Stanley Coren, a professor at the University of British Columbia in an article in Psychology Today.
Coren, who focuses in dog behavior, wrote that dogs dislike being held by humans in part because they are meant to be running animals, able to escape when being threatened. Holding a dog back, he added, “can increase his stress level and, if the dog's anxiety becomes significantly intense, he may bite.”
You can tell if your hug is making a dog anxious by noticing whether it is closing its eyes or averting them, flattening its ears, yawning, or licking its lips.
Coren downloaded a random sample of 250 pictures of humans hugging dogs, and found more than 80 percent of the photos showed dogs with at least one sign that they were stressed or anxious.
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“The results indicated that the Internet contains many pictures of happy people hugging what appear to be unhappy dogs,” he wrote.
Instead, Coren suggested, pat your dog or give it a treat. If you love your dog, let them go.