You can often see photos of happy people hugging apparently smiling dogs. But appearances are deceiving, because if you want to pet a dog and, in the exuberance of feelings, hug him tightly, he does not feel comfortable. What looks like smile to people who have little experience in dog communication, like smile, are mostly signals of appeasement. And a dog shows this, among other things, during stress in order to calm down.
Petting the dog: pay attention to the situation
If you want to pet your dog, make sure that it is in a cozy mood. If he is busy with something else, he usually does not want to be petted. If he plays with you or a member of his own species, explores the surroundings or is in an unusual situation, then he usually does not want to cuddle. If he comes up to you, you can stroke your dog, preferably on the side of the neck or behind the ears. If your dog throws himself on his back in front of you, it is a sign of trust and an invitation to scratch his belly.
However, many dogs find slap or stroking too rude as uncomfortable. If your four-legged friend turns away from you, turns his head away, yawns or walks away, these are signs that he (for the time being) has had enough of hugging. So do not be disappointed, your dog loves you anyway and enjoys spending time with you or near you - even if it is not possible to cuddle up. In our guide "How dogs say 'I love you': 4 characters" you can read about how dogs express their affection.
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Cuddle properly: Dogs don't like hugs
We humans like to show our love and affection through hugs and kisses. Therefore, it can easily come to the fallacy that dogs understand and appreciate this human proof of love correctly. However, while it is something very nice for people to hold their dog or their favorite people close to them, a dog feels trapped. Dogs have a hunting instinct and can defend themselves by biting, but they also have a strong instinct to flee. Your preferred reaction to dangers is to flee or withdraw. Only if they see no other way out, do they attack.
If you hold your dog tightly with a hug, they will feel deprived of their escape options. Some dogs are able to cope with such a situation well and tolerate their man's proof of love without showing any signs of uneasiness. However, most four-legged friends will show more or less clear symptoms of stress and appeasement and try to free themselves from the situation that is threatening them. Possible signs of growing malaise include turning your head away and avoiding eye contact. Stressed dogs also put their ears on and open their eyes so that the white in the eyes can be seen. But closed or half-open eyes are also symptoms of stress. Yawning and lip licking are other signals of appeasement with which the dog tries to calm down. So when you pet your dog, you're doing something good for them if you give them the opportunity to withdraw at any time once they no longer want to cuddle.