X's and O's
Sometimes the way dogs interpret signs of affection is different than we think. While dogs may be man's (and woman’s) best friend, hugging and kissing a dog could make them uncomfortable and put you in harms way. Check out these tips for understanding hugs and kisses from a pups perspective.
1. Body language
Before diving in for a hug and a kiss, give the dog a pet and take a look at their body language. Is the dog stiff? Are the hairs on their back standing upright? Are they drooling licking their lips or growling? Are the whites of their eyes showing as they avoid eye contact? If you notice a dog exhibiting any of these signs, chances are they are uncomfortable and trying to tell you to back off. Hugging or kissing a dog that is showing signs of being fearful or uncomfortable could lead to a bite which is a dangerous situation for both you and the dog.
Petting a dog that is showing no signs of being uncomfortable? Time for tip number 2.
2. No hugs, just kisses
No matter how tempting it may be, hugging a dog is never a good idea. Squeezing a dog in a hug does not communicate love. Dogs have no translation for a hug and instead they often feel cornered and uncomfortable. If a dog is in pain that you are unaware of, squeezing them tight in a hug may cause them to lash out.
Instead of hugging, if you are interacting with a dog you know, that is showing no warning signs of being uncomfortable, leaning in to give a kiss is OK and you may even get lucky and get a sloppy, wet dog tongue lick in return!
3. Talk it out
Swap the X’s and O’s for “good boy” and “good girl” and dogs will thank you! Speaking in joyful, happy tones is a great way to communicate praise and love. A good scratch, pat or rub will also do the trick.
No matter how you choose to show affection to a dog, use common sense and read the dog’s body language in order to avoid putting them or yourself in danger.
Like human children, dogs thrive in a structured environment. The more structure, the more secure a dog feels with his/her human pack.