Friday, December 24, 2010

Dogs Don't like Hugs and Kisses

Dogs Don't Like Hugs and Kisses!

This is one of Doggone Safe's major messages and probably the one that gives us the most trouble. Many people simply don't believe this and are determined to argue about it.

Some dogs are very tolerant and will allow hugging and kissing, some try to get away, some lick the face of the hugger until they let go and some resort to biting. Some rare dogs do enjoy hugs from a person that they love, who scratches their chest while hugging and who doles out hugs on the dog's terms. There are few if any dogs who enjoy hugs the way kids do it, which is to clasp the dog around the neck and hang on. This is very threatening to a dog. The fact that the dog is uncomfortable or even feeling a threat and the proximity of the child's face to the dog's teeth makes this potentially very dangerous. This is why we recommend that parents teach children to show affection to the dog in ways that do not involve hugs and kisses.

In a study that looked at the reasons for dog bites to children the following was found:
Familiar children were most commonly bitten in relation to food or resource guarding and “benign” interactions such as petting, hugging, bending over, or speaking to the dog.
Read the whole study report. This is something that dog trainers and behaviorists know without having to see any data. From their experience they know that this is a major cause of facial bites and they know from the behavior of dogs that they rarely enjoy hugs and kisses. Author and dog behavior expert Patricia McConnell says in her wonderful book "For the Love of a Dog" that she has at least 50 photos of kids hugging dogs and in not one of them does the dog look happy.

A recently published children's book entitled "Smooch Your Pooch" recommends that kids hug and kiss their dog anytime anywhere. We regard this as dangerous advice and so does the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior and Veterinary Behaviorist Sophia Yin. Dr Yin says:
While this adorably illustrated book, with its sweet, catchy rhymes, is meant to foster affection for pets, the contents as well as the cover illustration teach kids to hug and kiss dogs; this can cause dogs to react aggressively. No one knows that better than Dr. Ilana Reisner, a veterinary behaviorist at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Reisner and her colleagues published a study examining why children get bitten by dogs. Says Reisner, "The recommendations in this children's book -- and even the title of the book -- are potentially dangerous."

That's because many dogs do not like being petted or hugged. They just tolerate it -- at least temporarily.
Read Dr. Yin's article about Smooch Your Pooch and why it is not good idea to encourage kids to hug and kiss dogs.

If you are a person who thinks that your likes hugs and kisses, you can find out for sure by learning about dog body language and observing your dog to see how he reacts to hugs. Visit our website to learn about the signs of an anxious dog and see if your dog exhibits any of these while you are hugging him.

Even if you have one of those rare dogs that does enjoy hugs from your or from kids (very unlikely), there are times when the dog will be less tolerant than at other times. The dog may tolerate or even enjoy a hug on his terms, but sometimes he will not be in the mood. Here is how we explain this to kids:
When you are home at night watching TV or reading a bedtime story you might like to sit on your Mom or Dad's knee or have them whisper "I love you" in your ear or give you a kiss. However if you are out on the soccer field or at school with your friends or acting in the school play you might not want to sit on a parent's lap or have them run out in the middle of the game or the play to whisper in your ear or give you a hug and a kiss. It's the same for dogs. If they are busy doing something, or interested in another dog or a squirrel, or they are tired they may not want to have attention from you that they might enjoy at other times.
The dog that is most tolerant is the dog that is most likely to be subjected repeatedly to unwanted attentions. Dog and child relationship expert Madeline Gabriel calls this "the curse of the good dog". Click here to read more about this important concept and how you can protect your good dog from this curse.

20 comments:

  1. Thanks for writing about this. I think it's an important topic about which more people should be educated. I'm going to post it on my blog - www.seattledogspot.com.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hondenleven magazine in The Netherlands/Europe posted a message, too!
    www.hondenlevenmagazine.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  3. Both of my dogs seek out hugs from both myself and my boyfriend. I would not encourage a stranger child or adult to force the behavior upon any dog. Ultimately you have to read the dogs body language as you've said but to say dogs don't want to be hugged is a little misleading. I think dogs want certain behaviors on their own terms. To tell a child it is never ok to hug their family dog is just sad.

    ReplyDelete
  4. My dogs are well trained...even trained for personal protection....they r very cuddly and playfull...best dogs...but they dont like hugs...they try to get away and lick me instead

    ReplyDelete
  5. FauxSwede you stated "To tell a child it is never ok to hug their family dog is just sad. It isn't "sad" it is being safe. I believe you can explain why dogs and people are different without making it a big deal. It is just matter of fact.

    ReplyDelete
  6. It isn't "sad" to tell children not to hug dogs if you *do* tell them how to provide affection to their dog in a way the dog likes. The idea that dogs have to tolerate anything that kids do gets a lot of kids bitten, and if we can save one child from that (and maybe a dog's life) then why not do it?

    ReplyDelete
  7. My two mini schnauzers absolutely love hugs and kisses and actively seek them out - but - despite early positive association, hate kids. Children are not centred and the dogs see that as a threat.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Dogs don't like to be petted? I will disagree for the win.

    ReplyDelete
  9. If You don't want to teach your child to be careful about hugging and kissing your own dog, PLEASE, at least teach them that many dogs do not like it. I am afraid to take my 4 month old puppy to the dog park, because, I am afraid some kid will run up and put their face into his. He is still a puppy, and lunges, and bites, playfully, but, it could still scratch a child.In addition, my daughter-in-law is blind, and owns a service dog, who doesn't like children's unpredictable behavior, but, has to tolerate kids running up to pet her, everywhere they go.

    ReplyDelete
  10. When I kiss my dog on the head, or hug him, he turns and licks me. I wondered if this was a way of showing me affection in return. From reading these comments, I wonder if that is his polite way of rejecting my misguided affection.

    ReplyDelete
  11. My mom has a small Jack Russell terrier who loves kisses and hugs. She will put her face right up to your lips and make you kiss her repeatedly. On the other hand, I also have young nieces and nephews that like to pull ears and do things that dogs don't like, and she will nip, but not from hugs and kisses. I grew up with my grandparents chihuahua who did bite if you got in his face. I think it depends on the dog, and what their temperament is, as well as the breed. Certain breeds are more prone to biting, even if they are brought up with children. I do believe that a child should be taught not to just run up and hug a strange dog, but to tell them not to hug a dog ever? I don't believe that should always be the case. My golden retriever loves children and loves their hugs and kisses as well, and I would never tell any child they could not hug him or kiss him.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I realize I'm late on this topic - but - I agree. I know some dogs don't like hugs and kisses. We have 3 dogs, who allhave moods at times. One of them will lick us while we rub her belly and her tail goes at 500mph. When we stop, she rolls over and nudges our hand so we can continue. Charlie likes his belly rubbed but isn't a licker or overly affectionate. Cody, he's the baby. He wants your attention 24/7. He even has to cuddle with me at night. Cody will lick you for hours if you let him. He gets a kick out of it, especially when we are laughing and telling him "Not the TEETH Cody." Or "Cody, stop it with the ears man!" LoL He knows he's loved. He knows we aren't going to hurt him, like a previous owner did. I think it depends on the dog and once you know your dog, you should be able to tell your kids how to behave. Just like we train doggies to go potty outside and catch a frisbee, dogs train us in the manner they want attention. :)

      Delete
  12. My mom has a small Jack Russell terrier who loves kisses and hugs. She will put her face right up to your lips and make you kiss her repeatedly. On the other hand, I also have young nieces and nephews that like to pull ears and do things that dogs don't like, and she will nip, but not from hugs and kisses. I grew up with my grandparents chihuahua who did bite if you got in his face. I think it depends on the dog, and what their temperament is, as well as the breed. Certain breeds are more prone to biting, even if they are brought up with children. I do believe that a child should be taught not to just run up and hug a strange dog, but to tell them not to hug a dog ever? I don't believe that should always be the case. My golden retriever loves children and loves their hugs and kisses as well, and I would never tell any child they could not hug him or kiss him.

    ReplyDelete
  13. This article is hilarious. I have a boxer and she couldn't careless if someone puts their arms around her or kisses her. My one year old nephew gets in her face and all she does is lick him to death.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Good point! 20 years in the emergency medical field. Certain breeds, like Rots and Pits, are more susceptible to attack children AFTER being hugged and petted. Even tho the dog knows the child. Other breeds are more tolerant. Labradors etc. NEVER let your child go ' lovey dovey' on a dog unless you know that dog and it's temperament.

    ReplyDelete
  15. My dogs love hugs and kisses. If they do not like it they will move away. Sadie rolls on her back and wants her belly and legs and chest kissed and patted

    ReplyDelete
  16. I think people are confusing what a dog likes with what a dog will do to please us. I love to hug and kiss my dogs and they tolerate my advances because they know it makes me happy and a happy mom is good to be around. Some could be construed as affectionate and hug seeking but generally when this happens, the water bowl is empty or they need to go outside. They are getting my attention in a way that works. Pretty smart if you ask me.

    I do wish the person who lumped Pits in with Rotts for face bites would consider how many dogs are misidentified. I posted a collage of 20 dogs with only one being a pit bull terrier and asked my FB friends to pick the pit. Only one out of every twenty could.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Honestly, I agree with some parts of this post, but not the majority of it. I've had dogs since I was a little kid (I'm now in my mid 30's) and have had several different breeds. EVERY dog I've owned has loved hugs and kisses. No, they don't just tolerate them. They get excited over it, and shower me with affection back. They lean into me, wag their tail, and hang their tongue out of their mouth - the same way they do with everything that gets them happy and excited. I agree that nobody should just walk up to a random dog and hug them, or stick their face in the dogs face, but to say that the majority of dogs hate hugs and kisses is just absurd.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Ok I'm very confused. My two big dogs seem to love the attention of being hugged and kissed and petted, and come up to me for it on their own accord.. and all the pups from their litters licked my face and wagged their tales in response to getting hugs and kisses too....Is their any suggestions to find actual educated evidence that they do not like this?

    ReplyDelete
  19. My mom has a lab and she absolutely loves to be loved on! She wags her tail and gets excited about the love and affection. She even went as far as making my mom sit on her back by coming up between her legs and raising my mother of the ground when she returned from a 2 week vacation! I think family pets are just that... Loved to be loved on by the family. Not energy person that comes around.

    ReplyDelete