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hugs and experts

Yesterday B sent me a screen capture (from the car en route to Chicago) of my sister's FB share of an article titled: Why Dogs Don't Like To Be Hugged. The article starts with this sentence: "It's great to show our four-legged best friends how much we love them, but maybe hugging should be taken off the list."
B wanted to know what I thought.

I think I had a post about this earlier, or maybe it was a comment on someone else's post, or maybe I dreamt it... how I regret that I did not hold and cuddle and hug Stella so much more when she was a puppy. It wasn't that I didn't want to, I was just being respectful because I'd read a similar article or section of some book that said dogs don't like to be hugged. I think if I had, things would have been different and she would have learned to take comfort from our holding and hugging her...

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Razz loves being held, he is his most relaxed being held. In fact most relaxed being held upside down---on his back. He totally gets comfort from hugs. This morning at off leash, which especially on a saturday can be overwhelming to a pup not yet five months old, he was handling himself beautifully, making new friends easily, keeping the balance, playing, moving on, backing off, coming in close... a pro, but I can see him stop sometimes, stand there looking around and I can see he is feeling something like wow the world is really large and so much is going on, but like WOW THE WORLD IS REALLY LARGE AND SO MUCH IS GOING ON!!!! And this is the second time I've done this, I call him in to me and crouch down and just hold him for a few seconds, its a loose hug, but a hug, he's enveloped and I can feel how this enables him to regroup, get his bearings again and then off he goes happily back into the fray...

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Soshana was telling me that Rachel Saunders said to her that Americans don't handle their dogs enough, that we just aren't physical with them enough. I think it would be interesting to read some research on this and how it shakes out. Because I keep thinking that if we'd hugged Stel as a pup, a hug now those times when she's fried and freezing up or freaking out about a dog or the flies might get through to her instantly, the way it does Razz...

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If/when you get toward the bottom of the dog hugging article link, the message beyond the more catchy media slant is actually not don't-hug-your-dog but more try to notice if your dog likes hugs or not...


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 20th, 2014 08:50 pm (UTC)
I hug all of my dogs all of the time... because I feed them and water them and keep them healthy and alive with a roof over their heads. So I make them hug me. I'm so mean!

(I didn't read the article).
Sep. 20th, 2014 09:27 pm (UTC)
I forgot to mention also contrary to the article Razz does "hug" us. When we open his crate at the back of the car he puts his paws on either side of our neck and leans in and licks and licks our faces. It certainly always feels like a hug! I think often dogs will use physical proximity as expression of affection. It's kind of the same thing.
Sep. 21st, 2014 03:32 pm (UTC)
Me too.
Sep. 21st, 2014 07:29 pm (UTC)
after all they don't come to you knowing what a smile is, they have to learn it...
Sep. 21st, 2014 03:35 am (UTC)
I talk to many of my clients and show them how their dog feels (how they react) to a hand over the top of their head. This is a thing that I've worked on and with for 10+ years. My poor Ruben would flinch EVERY TIME I put my hand over the top of his head. Of course, the flinch was very subtle and only if you were very much looking for it would you see it when I (me.. his trainer/owner) did it. If you... or any other stranger tried, he would duck away and scoot out of "harm's way." This was the type of dog he was. Razor will certainly put his ears down when I reach over his head, but he also leans INTO my hand. So I believe he understands that my proximity to his body is normally a good thing. (of course, he doesn't allow a massage or physical manipulation without much grumping and complaining).
Rumble is 100% fine with almost any touching I want to do to him. Hugs = great! hand over the head? = yahoo! nail trims and my constantly bothering the mats in his fur, he puts up with it all. This is partly due to my knowledge and understanding that physical proximity is important and that he needs to tolerate it. But honestly, this is a great deal about personality. Just as many humans aren't going to be happy with a hug from a stranger so --- most dogs aren't going to like it either. Most humans are good with hugs from family and close friends, I believe a lot of dogs are ok with it too (even if they're not crazy about it). And some dogs are just snuggle bunnies. And they're good with almost anyone holding them in that way. But my experience is that those dogs who will just allow/enjoy that from anyone are rare, rare, rare.
Sep. 21st, 2014 07:31 pm (UTC)
yeah anyone? well, stella will take a hug from anyone, therapy dog stuff she loves
Sep. 21st, 2014 03:34 pm (UTC)
I couldn't agree more. I taught Zoe how to handle it. It would have been a huge problem if I hadn't. Merrel too - had big aversion to any kind of restraint. The positive message has gone a little fundamentalist. (and you know I'm positive!) I teach people to handle their puppies. People feel so uncomfortable about it and resist me and then wonder why the dogs are biting when being handled.

You are 100 million times correct.
Sep. 21st, 2014 07:33 pm (UTC)
wish someone had told me... trying to make up for lost time with Stella, not sure how that till go
Sep. 21st, 2014 10:17 pm (UTC)
I've always hugged and held my dogs and when Devon was puppy I spent a lot of time holding him in my arms like a baby while I fed him. At 10 I can't even sit down without him wanting to be in my lap and if I lie down he immediately wants to cuddle. If he ever hurts himself or gets scared he runs and jumps into my lap so I can hold him.
Sep. 23rd, 2014 04:43 am (UTC)
I think the take away message is to notice whether or not your dog likes being hugged. Matilda pushes into to people for affection. Joey loves to be cuddled. I thought the article was interesting. I'd seen a similar article by someone else showing lots of pictures of people hugging dogs with the dogs in most of the pictures looking away, pulling away, resisting the huggers.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )