You Probably Shouldn't Hug Your Dog, And 3 Other Common Things We Get Wrong About Dogs

Human face: joy. Dog face: terror.librarianavengers/Flickr

I have some bad news: Your dog doesn't like being hugged, even though you love to hug them.

That isn't definitive, nor is it every single dog (#NotEveryDog) — Louboutina, for instance, is seemingly all about hugs.

But chances are, your dog isn't. And that's just scratching the surface of the many misconceptions we often ascribe to our canine family members. What other commonly held beliefs about dogs are wrong? And what does it mean for our relationships with the dogs in our lives?

To learn more, I spoke with Alexandra Horowitz, a dog-cognition researcher and author of "Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know" and "Being a Dog: Following the Dog Into a World of Smell."

Here's what I found out.

  1. 1. Dogs probably don't like being hugged.

  2. YouTube/MsCrbrown
  3. "A lot of dog professionals would agree that hugging a dog is nonideal," Horowitz told me in an interview earlier this year. "I've never seen a dog who when you hug them, they stand up and wag their tail and they're so excited. They do something else: They deal with it."

It's hard to hear, I know. I certainly sympathize.

My dog, Goodwin, seen below, surveying Brooklyn, sleeps in the same bed as me. He goes on vacation with my wife and me. He gets Christmas presents. He's a member of the family.


And that means he gets hugged. If I'm being honest, he gets hugged every single day. And though it seems as if he's OK with it — happy to be hugged, even! — it's entirely possible he's not such a fan.

"The reason we say they don't like being hugged is because of what they look like when you're hugging them," Horowitz told me. "They pin their ears back, they lick their lips — sort of air-licking — or they yawn, which is another stress behavior. Or they move to get away. Or they show this kind of whale-eye posture — you can see the whites of their eyes. They show behavior that's like 'this is uncomfortable.'"

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