So what were the signs of stress in the photos according to Dr. Coren?
“The most common sign of anxiety is when the dog turns his head away from whatever is bothering or worrying him, sometimes also closing his eyes, at least partially. When a dog opens its eyes wide and you can see the whites in a “half-moon” shape, that’s another sign. Other indicators of stress are when the dog’s ears are low and against its head, lip licking, yawning or raising a paw.”
So what does this mean for those of us who hug our dogs? Some experts have a different view than Dr. Coren.
Dog trainer Corey Cohen told the New York Times, “My dogs love being hugged.” Cohen also noted that the dogs in the pictures Dr. Coren used for his study may have been nervous because they were being posed for a picture.
Dr. Marc Bekoff is a professor emeritus of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He says it’s ok to hug your dog…sometimes.
“Just like people, some dogs love it, some sort of like it, and some may not like the close contact at all,” Bekoff writes in a response, also on Psychology Today’s website.
It’s important to consider factors like how well a dog knows you and how noisy the environment is. “And, if you’re unsure, don’t hug the dog! Better safe than sorry,” he writes.
After seeing Dr. Coren’s article, a few dog huggers decided to respond…