Do dogs like being held? A Step-by-Step Guide

Why Your Dog Isn’t a HuggerThere are several reasons a dog may resist your efforts to nestle his fuzz. Some are simply natural. In his April 13,2016, Psychology Today column,

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When Dogs Like to Be Picked Up and Held

Small dogs tend to enjoy being picked up and held more than large breeds. Dogs like Chihuahuas, Pomeranians, and Pugs may even go to their owners and jump up on them, asking to be picked up. This gives them a chance to be closer to their owners, and it makes them feel safe and loved.

A clear sign that a dog is enjoying being held is when they are relaxed in your arms. If they are calm and content, they won’t struggle to get down or squirm around because they feel nervous.

Does My Dog Like Being Picked Up?

If you’re unsure, there are ways to tell if your dog enjoys being picked up or held. If your dog jumps up on you when greeting you, this is sometimes a signal that they want you to pick them up. Also, if they seem relaxed and content in your arms and don’t struggle, this is a clear sign that they don’t mind being held.

Puppies are easier to get used to being held. If you’re picking them up and cuddling with them from a young age, they grow accustomed to it and are less likely to fear it as they get older.

If you want to find out if your dog likes being picked up, try inviting them onto your lap while sitting on the couch to gauge how they feel about physical contact. If they seem happy on your lap, check out the steps below to find out how to safely pick up a dog. Another good idea is to rub their chest and abdomen regularly (if they enjoy this) to get them used to the feelings involved in being picked up.

Signs that a dog is uncomfortable being picked up include struggling, yelping, or going rigid. Some may even growl—stop trying at once and leave them be if this happens.

14 Signs Your Dog Doesn’t Love You (Even if You Think They Do)

It’s completely natural for humans to hug somebody to express affection. Just as natural as dogs sniffing rear ends to say hello. Of course, people don’t share dogs’ love of sniffing behinds. And to the same degree, dogs don’t share our love of hugs. We speak different languages and use different behaviors to communicate. In fact, misreading your dog and subjecting them to hugs can stress them and even result in a bite. So, although it’s instinctive to hug and squeeze what you adore, particularly for children, it’s important to find other more dog-appropriate ways to show your dog you care.

If you watch dogs interact, you’ll notice they don’t embrace each other. They might pin each other to the ground, but it’s in only one of two contexts: play fighting or real fighting. So, when you hug a dog, they don’t understand what you’re trying to say. In fact, you’re essentially trapping them. They can’t get away from anything that scares them or makes them uncomfortable while in your arms. And as hugging is often accompanied by direct staring and putting your face next to the dog’s, they might also interpret your actions as aggressive or threatening. It’s no wonder they don’t enjoy the squeezing sensation of a hug.

You might believe your dog adores your hugs. After all, you do it all the time and your dog doesn’t complain. But it’s far more likely your dog is simply tolerating your behavior. Although the odd dog doesn’t seem to mind, most dogs display stress signals when hugged, and their owners are oblivious. Dr. Stanley Coren did a research study where he looked at 250 photographs of people hugging their dogs. Although the people were smiling and happy, 81 percent of the dogs showed body language signs of stress.

If the dog’s stress level from a hug is high enough, the dog can bite. And the hugger’s face is right next the dog’s face and therefore their teeth. That puts whoever is hugging the dog at risk of serious injury. Even if your dog tolerates hugs from you, they might not be okay with one coming from a stranger or young child. It’s essential to teach children safe ways to interact with dogs other than hugging, especially dogs they don’t already know.