Your Dog Hates Hugs 

I never met a dog I didn’t want to hug. The feeling, alas, is likely not mutual.

Smokey *does* have one ear down
Smokey *does* have one ear down

I’m unconvinced that Smokey doesn’t like hugs.

But this piece by Melissa Dahl for Science of Us made me remember this story about our dog, Smokey:

When he was a puppy, he didn’t really like to lay in our laps. So, like most humans, we forced our companion animal into a particular behavior: several times a day, we would coerce Smokey to lay in our laps.

Eventually, Smokey grew up and became a 55 lb lapdog—when available to him, he would prefer to lay on some part of our bodies, rather than lay elsewhere.

But what about hugs?

Does Smokey like to hug us?

Although we forced him to be okay with laying in our laps, we never did so with hugs. By all accounts, he seems to enjoy them. So what do I make of this from Dahl?

If you know what to look for, their annoyance becomes obvious. Lesson one: Coren writes that a dog’s most common outward signal of stress or anxiety is when he “turns his head away from whatever is bothering or worrying him, sometimes also closing his eyes, at least partially.” Lesson two: Just like humans, dogs have whites of the eye — it’s just that you never see it unless the animal is stressed. And lesson three: An anxious or stressed-out dog’s ears will be “lowered or slicked against the side of his head,” Coren writes.

I’ve seen that white in Smokey’s eyes before. Typically it happens when I have to inspect his private parts for fleas[1] and/or wipe the dirt from his paws.But I’ve never seen it while hugging him.I think that’s the point: know you dog. If your dog shows signs of stress when you force a hug, maybe don’t do that.Yeah, he *must* like it.


  1. How would you feel in similar circumstances?