We love hugging our dogs but do they love being hugged?
Touch is very powerful. We communicate love with touch. We can also communicate abuse and hate and anger with our touch. Dogs are not meant to be hit or abused. A commitment to the use of positive training techniques will encourage positive touch. There is no need to hit or shock or demean a dog to teach them a behavior. Dogs want to please us and they want to live in peace and calm in our human world. Shaping their behavior with positive training techniques like food and praise and positive touch results in learned behaviors and a dog who looks forward to learning. The pet parent also looks forward to the learning experience and trust and a bond are reinforced.
Every dog is a unique being. Every dog has different preferences for being touched. A recent study found dogs really don't like to be hugged but prefer to be petted and given positive verbal praise. Food actually came in behind praise and being petted. However, combining food with praise or positive touch was also preferred by the dogs in the study. But that can certainly vary from dog to dog.
For example my girl Jive, loves to be pet and loves to cuddle. She will let almost anyone pet her and snuggle with her for hours. Jazz, my boy is very different. Jazz will lay on the floor next to me and lick a toy of his. He will do this for a long period of time. If I get up to move to another room he will move with me. Jazz has favorite spots he likes to have petted. He loves having his hips pet and will back into people he likes so they will pet his hip area. He also enjoys brief hugs and even a kiss on his head once or twice during a day...but only from me. It is very important to know who can pet your dog and where your dog likes to be touched. Your dog will communicate this to you.
Spending time with your dog touching and petting them will accomplish a few things.
Touching our dogs helps us get to know our dogs body. You may find a lump or bump that appears to be new since the last time you spent time petting your dog. If there is anything your vet may need to see you may find it early and thus it can be treated sooner.
Children love to hug dogs. It is important to supervise children with our dogs at all times. Children can get very excited and hug a dog too much and too hard and too long. This can make a dog very anxious and even frightened. A dog relies on the pet parent to supervise and look out for them. Be there for your dog and the child. Preventing a negative consequence is the best outcome for everyone....but especially the dog who ultimately pays the price.
Loving touch is soothing and relaxing for both you and your dog. Positive touch builds trust in your relationship with your dog. Pet parents experience a relaxed state and in some instances even lowered blood pressure. A positive perk!
Positive touch communicates love and respect. For some dogs touch is not comfortable. A dog like this will need patience and time to feel comfortable with touch.
Every dog has different preferences when it comes to being touched. Part of the relationship with a dog is learning what these preferences are by spending time with our dog. Time is a great gift to share with each other.
Touch is essential to love. Petting your dog lovingly will bring joy to your relationship. Your dog will love you for it.
WOOFS & SMILES!