You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Sorry everyone: This scientist says you shouldn't hug your dog

San Francisco Chronicle logo San Francisco Chronicle 27/04/2016

Bad news dog lovers: science is here again, ready to ruin your day.

You know all those doting hugs and cuddles you give to your dog every day? Apparently, your pup hates that. A lot.

In an article published earlier this month in Psychology Today, Dr. Stanley Coren, a professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia who frequently writes about canine behaviors, argues that dogs almost always exhibit cues of discomfort or stress when they are being hugged or embraced by humans.

Women pet a dog on the opening day of the Dog Cafe, a coffee shop where people can adopt shelter dogs in Los Angeles, California, United States, April 7, 2016. © REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson Women pet a dog on the opening day of the Dog Cafe, a coffee shop where people can adopt shelter dogs in Los Angeles, California, United States, April 7, 2016.

Coren examined 250 random photographs of people (both adults and children) hugging dogs, taking note of the animal's appearance and expression in each picture. As he says, in a large majority of the photos, the animals' body language doesn't lie: they do not like being hugged. In most pictures, the dogs show signs like eye contact avoidance or lowered ears, generally suggesting they are feeling stressed out by the affection. He writes:

In all, 81.6% of the photographs researchers scored showed dogs who were giving off at least one sign of discomfort, stress, or anxiety. Only 7.6% of the photographs could rate as showing dogs that were comfortable with being hugged. The remaining 10.8% of the dogs either were showing neutral or ambiguous responses to this form of physical contact.

Now, it is possible that your dog is one of the exceptions to this rule, but generally speaking, Coren advises that rather than smothering your pup in hugs and kisses, you show your appreciation with a little playtime or a treat.

MORE FROM San Francisco Chronicle

San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon