When your adorable puppy -- let's call him Rufus -- comes running to greet you, your first instinct is to give the adorable lil guy a hug. But, stop! Don't do it, no matter how much he licks you! Because, in fact, for as much as it makes you feel good, it makes him feel bad.
According to an article published in Psychology Today by Dr. Stanley Coren, known for his award-winning work on dogs, your four-legged best friend hates your hugs. Well, not just your hugs, but all hugs.
Dr. Coren drew from data collected in his study that examined 250 random photos of people hugging dogs found via simple Google Image and Flickr searches, noting the dogs' body language. Dogs naturally show how they're feeling by putting their ears back, looking away, closing their eyes, licking their lips, and other such behaviors, which were all taken into account by Dr. Coren, who then put the photos into three categories:
1. The dog was showing one or more signs of stress or anxiety
2. The dog appeared to be relaxed and at ease
3. The dog's response was ambiguous or neutral.
After looking at all the photos, researchers determined that 81.6% of the dogs photographed were "giving off at least one sign of discomfort, stress, or anxiety." Dr. Coren notes that while this data proves his point, many behavioralists have seconded this argument, as they believe that dogs, who are natural runners, hate being immobilized by a hug, hence all the stress. Instead of putting your dog through a confining snuggle, Dr. Coren suggests rewarding him with "a pat, a kind word, and maybe a treat.”
In other words, just give Rufus a Pup-Peroni and let him be. Then maybe give yourself a beer, and everybody wins.
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Kara King is a News Writer at Thrillist and her dog Kimbo loves hugs. She swears. Send news tips to firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her at @karatillie.