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Do Dogs Like Hugs? 5 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Hug Your Dog

August 22, 2023 | 3 min read

Updated August 22, 2023

By Becca Trigg

Summary: In this blog, we'll explore the fascinating world of canine communication and comfort, diving into why dogs might not be as fond of hugs as we are...


As pet owners, our furry friends are more than just companions; they are family.

So, showing them love and affection is a natural instinct, and one common way we do this is by giving hugs - and kisses.

However, have you ever wondered, do dogs like hugs?

Well, some dogs don't mind hugs, but it's not a natural behavior in the canine world and they may perceive this behavior differently...

Why Dogs Don't Like Hugs?

Dogs communicate primarily through body language, and what might seem like a harmless gesture to us can be perceived quite differently by them. A hug, especially from a human, can actually be quite overwhelming for our furry friends for several reasons...

When you hug your dog, you're completely covering them, restricting their movement - which can be anxiety-inducing for them.

You see, dogs are naturally active and want to move freely. Being held tightly can make them feel trapped and uncomfortable. And, just like humans, dogs have their boundaries. So, even though you are showing them love, they're not getting the same message.

In dog social dynamics, dominant dogs might assert themselves through physical contact. When we hug our dogs, they might interpret it as an attempt to assert dominance over them, leading to unease - which isn't what we intend at all!

Signs of Discomfort When Hugging Your Dog

Dogs are skilled at expressing their emotions through body language, but that might not include cuddles. Here are some signs that your dog might be uncomfortable with a hug:

They Stiffen Up

If your dog becomes rigid and tenses up when you try to hug them, it's a clear sign of discomfort.

Sitting on a 'L' shaped sofa, a woman with long hair cuddles a Golden Retriever


If your dog avoids eye contact, turns their head away, or tries to escape from your hug, they are indicating that they are not at ease.

Licking Lips or Yawning

Did you know that licking lips and yawning can be a subtle stress sign that dogs use to communicate their discomfort? So, if you've pulled your dog into an  embrace and they're showing one of these signs, it could mean they're uncomfortable.

Why Some Dogs Don't Mind Hugs

While many dogs might not appreciate hugs, some dogs do tolerate or even enjoy them. This variation depends on factors such as their individual personalities, past experiences, and their relationship with you...

If this is a behavior you expose your dog to early, and they have been extensively socialized as puppies, they might be more comfortable with hugs. And some dogs have more laid-back temperaments, which makes them naturally more accepting of physical contact.

Plus, if your dog has grown up with you and trusts you completely, they might be more open to tolerating hugs. If you have adopted a rescue pup, they might not be as comfortable as a doggo that you have had since they were 8 weeks old.

How Dogs Show Affection

Now that you know hugs are not part of a dog's natural behavior, it may lead you to wonder how dogs show affection with each other or the humans they love.

Understanding how dogs express their affection can help you build a stronger bond with your furry friend without causing discomfort...

  • Tail Wagging: A wagging tail can signify excitement and happiness. However, the speed and position of the wag can convey different emotions. A wagging tail held high often indicates confidence and friendliness.
  • Licking: Licking is a common way for dogs to show affection. It's a behavior they often learn from their mother as puppies.
  • Leaning on You: While not all dogs enjoy hugs, some might initiate cuddling by leaning against you or resting their head on your lap.
  • Playfulness: Dogs that invite you to play, bring you toys, or engage in games are displaying their affection and desire to bond with you.

Expressing Love Without Hugs

The best way you can show your pup love is by showing it in ways that they'll understand and reciprocate...

Always Respect Their Space

Pay attention to your dog's body language. If they move away from your touch, respect their boundaries.

Chin and Chest Rubs

Most dogs enjoy gentle chin and chest rubs. These areas are less invasive than a full hug.

Belly Rubs

Many dogs love belly rubs when they are lying on their back, exposing their belly to you. This is a sign of trust and comfort.

Verbal Praise

Dogs are responsive to your tone of voice. Use positive and soothing words to communicate your affection.


Engage in interactive play sessions that your dog enjoys. This is not only a way to show love but also a means of keeping them mentally and physically stimulated.

Final Thoughts

In our quest to express love to our canine companions, it's crucial to understand that their perspective on physical affection might differ from ours. While some dogs might tolerate hugs, many prefer other forms of interaction.

Being attentive to their body language, respecting their boundaries, and embracing alternative ways to show affection can help us forge a stronger and more comfortable bond with our furry friends. Remember, a wagging tail, a nuzzle, or a playful bark can speak volumes in the language of canine affection.



Author, Gibeault, Stephanine, MSc, CPDT, "Should You Give Youd Dog Hugs?", American Kennel Club, February 01, 2023,

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Thanks for reading


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Becca Trigg

Authored By

Becca Trigg

An all round animal lover, who absolutely adores writing and researching anything puppy! Over the past few years, I have been able to gain ample pet knowledge; specifically joint health and dental hygiene. When I'm not typing away in the office, I can be found sitting in a country pub or growing chillies




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*In Amazon Pet Health Category in 2022