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National Hug Your Dog Day

greeblie [Flickr]

Hugging is a universally recognized sign of affection that we humans use with each other, so of course we want to shower that love and affection on our canine friends, as well.  The problem is that our dogs may not appreciate it nearly as much as we might think!


Okay, dog lovers – get ready – today is National Hug Your Dog Day! Experts say that hugging can be mutually beneficial for both you and your canine buddy, because hugging releases “oxytocin” in both dog and human. It’s been called the “cuddle hormone” because it creates a feeling of love and trust.

But before you go grabbing your furry friend for a big snuggle hug, it might be good to realize that not all dogs like to be hugged. Some even say that hugging a dog could make your pet uncomfortable.

So how can you tell if your dog doesn’t like being hugged, and maybe is just tolerating it? Well, take note of how your pet behaves when you hug it.

When a dog is upset or frightened, its eyes get wider. It may appear that your furry friend is looking sideways at you. That could be a sign that your dog is stressed.

When a dog is happy, usually it is relaxed and its ears perk up. If its ears go back or down, or its body stiffens, those are classic signs of canine uneasiness.

If you want to show your dog some love without hugging, there are lots of great ways to do it. Start by playing with your pet. It doesn’t have to be much, maybe ten to fifteen minutes once or twice a day - that can really help you bond with your canine buddy.

Talk to your dog. It may not understand the words, but your tone of voice speaks volumes. Combine a little petting or scratching with telling your buddy what a good dog it is, and your furry friend will feel the love.

And if you have a dog that genuinely likes to be hugged, count yourself blessed and enjoy it! Let your canine companion know how much you appreciate all that loyalty and friendship with a big hug to celebrate National Hug Your Dog Day – and you don’t even have to send a card – when you’re speaking of pets!


Mindy Norton has been “Speaking of Pets” on Alabama Public Radio since 1995.
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