02 May 2016

Hug the Dog

Since Dr. Stanley Coren’s observations and recommendation to not hug dogs were published last week, the internet has erupted with pet owners touting their hug-loving dogs and trainers/behaviourists with differing opinions.

"My dogs love being hugged," Corey Cohen, a companion animal behaviour therapist at A New Leash on Life in Pennsylvania, told the New York Times. He thought dogs could be comfortable if there was familiarity and trust.

Erica Lieberman, a dog trainer and behavior consultant with Pawsibilities Pets in New York City, told the New York Times “I believe people should err on the side of caution.” That in general, dogs should not be hugged — just to be on the safe side.

No one has done a formal study or research to determine whether hugging or other close contact causes stress or pleasure in dogs.

"This is a set of casual observations," Coren told The Washington Post. He hopes another scientist will take his idea and study it more formally.

In the meantime, people wonder if they should or should not hug their dog.

The answer may be - it depends.

It depends on the dog and its desire for close physical contact in general, and the level of familiarity and trust between the human and dog.

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