People who love cuddling with dogs may be in for a rude awakening.
New research published in Psychology Today earlier this month by University of British Columbia professor Dr. Stanley Coren, suggests hugs from humans stress dogs out.
“I can summarize the data quite simply by saying that the results indicated that the Internet contains many pictures of happy people hugging what appear to be unhappy dogs,” Coren wrote.
Coren said he looked at over 250 pictures of people hugging dogs (randomly selected) from the internet to determine how many of them enjoyed snuggling up with their owners.
Four out of five dogs were uncomfortable or showed signs of anxiety, he said.
And out of all the pictures, only 7.6 per cent looked happy while being hugged.
The others were “showing neutral or ambiguous responses.”
But what surprised him the most was the type of pictures he was looking at: people who wanted to “show how much they cared for and shared a bond with their pet.”
“The people … probably chose photos in which they felt that both the person and the dog looked happiest.”
That means most people, especially children, aren’t able to tell when their dog is uncomfortable.
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How to tell if your dog doesn’t like hugs
Next time your pull man’s best friend in for a cuddle, Coren says you can check to see whether your dog is feeling the love by looking for a few common signs.
“The most common sign of anxiety is when the dog turns his head away from whatever is bothering or worrying him, sometimes also closing his eyes.”
Seeing the whites of a dog’s eyes around the rim of their eyelid, called “half-moon eye,” is another indicator.
Other signs could be if a dog licks its lips, yawns, or slicks its ears back.
If your pet does any of these things, Coren recommends you “save your hugs for your two-footed family members and lovers.”