A study realized by the British Columbia University of Canada has some results that will freeze your smile: Dogs don’t like to be hugged. Stanley Coren has been based in 250 pictures taken to dogs in that moment of being hugged and his conclusions have been devastating: more than 80 of the dogs, different breed and age, showed anxiety signs, stress and a general discomfort.
Maybe you’re familiar with some of these reactions: deviation of the eye contact, nose licking, weird breathing sounds, moving the snout away… It seems that the main reason is that the extreme physic contact and some specific caresses, like when we caresse them over their head, attack their instinct of supremacy in the pack. In brief: when we hug them or caresse them, we void they’re authority.
What happens is that dogs have been next to humans since unmemorable times, and that’s why they’re reactions are nice. They still love us, even if we demonstrate our love at such a clumsy way, but still, they can’t avoid that discomfort generated by our attentions due to an atavistic instinct to impose on other specimens of their species.
The best thing about this study is that once the problem has been detected the solution is closer. Specially if we want to show our love to a dog that we don’t know. If you don’t want to bother him (and avoid risks for yourself), get close to him without looking him on the eyes and let him be the one that comes close to you to smell your hand. Right after, try not to put your hand over his head and better if you caress him under his snout, always softly. It is also better if you use the back side of your hand instead of using the palm, and this way the caress is more alike to a loving lick.
If the dog accepts this nuzzles, we can be more affective little by little, with no need to fear a violent reaction or annoying him.