You meet an adorable dog. You should:
a) pet the top of his head
b) shower him with hugs and kisses
c) get in his face
Answer: none of the above — at least not until you get to know what he does and doesn't like.
While some dogs may be ok with receiving hugs and kisses, always refrain from showing a new dog affection until you get to know him better.
he short answer to the question is that some dogs are ok with squeezes and smooches, but some aren't. However, although dogs love receiving positive attention overall through touch and verbal praise, and many enjoy affection in the form of belly rubs and rump scratches, it's unlikely that dogs actually prefer human-style hugs and kisses over other forms of affectionate touch. If you've raised your dog from a puppy and have always showered him with hugs and kisses and he doesn't try to squirm out of your grasp, then of course continue to hug and kiss away. But always pay close attention to your dog's body language and behavior -- he might not be feeling well or comfortable, for example -- especially when strangers or children wish to greet him. Dogs have bad days, just as people do. Always take your dog's behavior and feelings into account before bombarding him with affection.
Do Dogs "Hug"?
In the canine world, dogs depend on scent to get to know one another. They do not rush up and hug one another, although if a dog grabs another dog it is done so as a sexual or aggressive advance. Some dogs may interpreted hugging as restraint, and getting in a dog's face, such as kissing, might lead to biting, because dogs often bite one another on the snout.
Do's & Don'ts
For safety's sake, never pet a dog you don't know on the top of his head (especially approaching from the front), because a quick movement of the hand can spook him, causing him to interpret your movement as an aggressive gesture. Always show your hand before petting, and extend the back of your hand. Also, people should pet a dog one at a time. Finally, wagging tails don't always mean happiness; a low tail wag or wagging between the legs may indicate fear and apprehension.
Child Safety Considerations
Children are most likely to hug and kiss dogs that they both do and don't know with abandon (i.e. not with a gentle touch) which is why they often end up getting bit. That's why it's especially crucial that we teach our kids the proper and respectful way to treat dogs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, dogs bite more than 4.7 million people a year, with 800,000 Americans seeking medical attention -- half of them are children. The rate of dog bite-related injuries is highest for children ages 5 to 9 years, says the CDC.
References The Dog Training Secret: Top 5 Myths About Dog Behavior and How It Relates to Our Children Citizen Canine: Hug Your Dog ... Or Not? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Dog Bite: Fact Sheet
About the Author Debra Levy has been writing for more than 30 years. She has had fiction and nonfiction published in various literary journals. Levy holds an M.A. in English from Indiana University and an M.F.A. in creative writing/fiction from the Bennington Writing Seminars.