According to some recent research, dogs may not enjoy our cuddles as much as we do.
Dr. Stanley Coren, an expert in canine psychology, recently ran a study to analyse the facial expressions of dogs as they were being hugged. He analysed 250 photos of dogs being hugged by people, and gauged each dog’s stress level by looking at their body language. The results showed that 81.6% of the dogs showed some level of discomfort while being hugged.
When dogs are stressed, they may become aggressive and bare their teeth or growl. But for pooches who don’t show aggression, signs that they are uncomfortable may be more subtle and their body language may be harder to read. So what stress indicators should you look out for in your dog?
Here are some of the more subtle and less well-known signs that your dog may be feeling uncomfortable:
- Breaking off eye contact
- Partially closing eyes
- Lowered ears
- Half-moon eye – Where the white portion of the dog’s eye is visible at the rim
- Licking the lips
As well as making your dog uncomfortable, causing stress in this way might even pose a threat to the person doing the hugging. Children, in particular, may be at risk of being bitten by a stressed dog.
Obviously, this doesn’t necessarily apply to all dogs – some might love being cuddled! But next time you go in for a snuggle with your pooch, try not to restrict their movement too much, and take notice of their body language, looking out for any of the signs of stress listed above.
Featured image source.