According to the researchers, you should stop hugging your dog. The pets tend to get very stressed when humans wrap their arms around them, the gesture being interpreted as a threat sometimes. So scientifically, you should stop hugging your dog, but practically, you should let your dog show you if it wants to be hugged or not, because not all pets prefer the same things.
According to the article published in the journal Psychology Today, dogs get stressed when they are hugged, and people should avoid that behavior.
In order to reach this conclusion, Stanley Coren, a professor of psychology and a neuropsychological researcher analyzed over 250 photos of dogs being hugged by various individuals. The pictures were taken off the Internet.
Coren was looking for signs of anxiety that included the dogs showing the whites of their eyes, turning their head in the opposite direction, and slicking back their ears. It seems that from all of the pictures that he studied, almost 82 percent of the pets were uncomfortable, openly showing signs of discomfort when they were being hugged by their masters.
The remaining 18 percent were divided into those who looked like the actually enjoyed the action (8 percent) and those who showed mixed signals about the gesture (10 percent).
Apparently the pets get stressed when they are hugged because their first instinct in the face of trouble is to run. When they are deprived of their ability to turn their back to dangerous situations and start running in the opposite direction they might get very stressed and bite the compulsive hugger.
While the author of the study has some compelling arguments, one cannot ignore that the basics of his research are not exactly scientific.
He used photos taken of the internet. That means that it is possible that most of the people and dogs in the picture were uncomfortable because of other issues. There are lots of people taking pictures with their friends’ pets. That means that the animals in the pictures would look much more uncomfortable than they would have when they were hugged by their owners.
Furthermore, everybody knows that you never get a perfect post worthy picture from you first try. So the anxiety of the animals may be caused by the fact that they were forced to pose for an “instant hug” photo for a couple of takes.
According to Coren, you should stop hugging your dog because it causes him anxiety. And while some of the arguments used in the study are compelling, the overall conclusion seems forced. There are many variables that were not included in the paper, making the conclusion feel rushed.
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