Friday, January 27, 2012

How to Love Your Dog - Believe It or Not!

Think that your dog likes hugs and kisses? Well if he is like most dogs, then he does not enjoy this type of human affection. Children want to show love to dogs by giving hugs and kisses, because this how they show affection to people they love. Hugs are not a natural form of canine interaction to show affection. To show your dog that you love him, learn to give him the things that he really does like and teach your kids to do the same.

Most dog bites are to children, by the family dog or another dog known to the child. Hugs and kisses are a major cause of facial bites to children. Doggone Safe offers suggestions for safe ways to love your dog that the dog will appreciate.

Children (and adults too) often want to show love to dogs the way we show love to each other, through hugs and kisses. Dogs do not naturally understand this, or even enjoy it. Hugs and face-to-face contact can be very threatening to dogs. The dog may tolerate this for a while, but at some point may bite or snap to protect himself once he has exhausted all his means of more subtle warning. Some dogs do enjoy a hug from a special person, if it is on their terms and done with some extra scratching on the chest. Few, if any dogs enjoy hugs the way young children do this, which is to clasp around the neck and hang on. Parents, teach your children to avoid face-to-face contact with any dog (even their own dog) and to show love to the dog in ways other than hugging and kissing.

Doggone Safe offers the following suggestions for Valentine’s Day about how to love your dog in a way that the dog will appreciate.

Touch Your Dog
  • Invite your dog to come to you for attention. If your dog turns away or moves away, respect his wishes and leave him alone. Many dogs like to be near you, but not necessarily to be touched.
  • Scratch your dog on the side of the neck or on his chest.
  • Avoid hugs and kisses. People enjoy this, but most dogs don’t like hugs and kisses. They might tolerate it, but few actually enjoy it.
  • Invite your dog to sit with you while your read or watch TV. Let him lean on you or put his head on your lap on his terms.
  • Some dogs enjoy a scratch behind the ears. Most dogs don’t enjoy hands coming down on the top of their heads.
  • Pet your dog and then stop. If he tries to get you continue then you will know he likes it.

Play With Your Dog
  • Play games like fetch and hide and seek that do not involve chasing or rough play.
  • Take your dog for lots of walks.

Understand Your Dog
  • Learn to read dog body language so that you can understand what your dog is trying to tell you.
  • A happy dog pants and wags his tail loosely. He may wag all over.
  • An anxious dog might show a half moon of white in his eye or he may lick his lips or yawn. He may turn his head away or walk away. He wants to be left alone.
  • A dog that suddenly goes stiff and still is very dangerous and might be ready to bite.
  • A dog with his mouth closed and ears forward and/or with his tail held high is busy thinking about something and does not want to be bothered.

Reward Your Dog
  • Look for things your dog does right and give him a treat or praise, petting or play. Never hit or yell at your dog.
  • Give your dog a stuffed Kong or Chewber or other long lasting chew treat to enjoy while he lies on a mat or in a crate.


  1. Great post!

    I'm lucky in that Elka does like hugs and snuggles, and always has. But, not every dog does (as you say) and many dog owners are entirely unaware of what a lot of dog body language and signals mean.

  2. My boxers come up to me and hug me I didn't know that was not normal, they walk up when we are sitting and lay there heads on my shoulder and wait for me to put my arms around there necks.

    1. my boxer dose the same and I carry him in my arms like a baby too bad I won't be doing that soon he is growing fast and still wants to sit in my lap

    2. Yup. Same with my pit/boxer mix. He'l just a big mush and I trust him around everyone, including and almost especially kids. Although he's all muscle as you guys know, we watch him carefully so he doesn't knock anyone down.

  3. If the dog comes to you for hugs on his terms, that is nice. Most dogs will merely tolerate hugs, or will actively try to escape. It is important to understand dog body language and pay attention to what the dog is saying. if he yawns, licks his lips, turns his head away, or shows a half moon of white in his eye, then he is not enjoying, but i merely tolerating the hug. It is also important to protect you dog from strangers and especially children who may want to copy your behavior with the dogs. The dogs may not be as tolerant as they are with you.

    1. I think it's more important to understand your dog and his/her personality and signals. All dogs are different. In the co-op that we live in, there's a neighbor who has a Newfoundland (spelling?), who's a big soft gentle bear of a dog, and yet another neighbor with a Chihuahua that I'm scared to death of because she's snapped at me more times than I can count and now she smells my fear.

  4. My little Zuchon is totally original then. She let's me kiss her. Hold her like a baby...she goes on her hind legs and paws at my legs when she wants "up" if I move away from her in bed she moves so she is touching me again. And lately she loves laying right on my chest and resting her head right on my chin. Hahaha

  5. My boxer/ger.shep dog enjoys hugs as well! My daughter will hug her and she'll lean in and even hug her back! She's very gentle with kids! If she starts playing a little too rough, we just say "Be careful, He/She's a Baby!" and she'll calm down right away!

  6. Yeah, I'm gonna have to disagree with your extremely well-written blog, my friend. I have had dogs all my life (I'm now 48), and none of them have ever seemed threatened or nervous, or uncomfortable at all with hugs. On the contrary, I now have a pit/boxer mix (another rescue) and he's a big mush. When I let him up on the couch he snuggles into me and also snuggles right into my hugs. I kiss him on his head, I DO scratch his belly now and again, and I pet him down his head (?) I didn't understand that one. He loves all of the things I mentioned and never ever EVER showed signs of aggression.

    1. Have your dogs been comfortable with hugs from everybody? Or just from you?
      The article didn't say that no dogs ever like hugs, it stated that in many cases dogs do not enjoy hugs.
      In the case of children, it's better to be safe and sorry, and to simply tell them not to hug dogs. This is especially important as the child probably won't know how to tell the difference between a dog that is enjoying the hug, and one that isn't. And, as a professional preschool teacher, I can tell you that hugs from children are often quite physically painful, unlike hugs from adults.

      As a volunteer in an Animal Shelter, I find that pits are far more cuddly than other dogs.

  7. My Japanese spitz is super cuddly towards me and my partner he likes to sleep undeter the blanket when he's lucky and loves morning cuddles I often wake up to him lying on my stomach lickng my face . He does not like strangers touching him tho.

  8. My Dutch Shepherd/Greyhound Mix Loves Hugs and Kisses! His name is Meeko and he is my Life and my baby~!! He loves to be around people and touching people~ He loves a lot of attention!
    he is a Brindle colored Shepherd~
    Also my dog is a Sagittarius :D

  9. My Puppy Is A Jack Russell chihuahua mix. She is now an 8 week Old Puppy. She Has always loved, to be cuddled help picked up. Mostly by me And she loves kisses and will put her face next to mine and keep it still so I can kiss her. ^_^ She has A little smile on her face. I also know how to read her, when she wines it normally means she needs to go outside. Otherwise She loves my physical Affection.