What’s the first thing you do after you ask a puppy, “who’s a good boy?”
Chances are you give the furball a hug. In fact, there’s really nothing more we love to do than cuddle our canines.
But in heartbreaking news, it turns out the feeling isn’t exactly mutual.
In an article published in Psychology Today, UBC professor of psychology and all around doggy expert Stanley Coren says that hugging your pooch can raise its stress and anxiety levels.
If it’s true – and the guy has published at least 14 books on the abilities and history of dogs – it’s a terrible blow for both the stressed-out pooches and the humans with an overwhelming urge to give our pups a squeeze.
Coren writes that he brought his dogs to a local university campus on “Doggy De-Stress Day” in the interest of reducing tension levels for students during the exam period.
And while we know that having dogs around can be a great source of relaxation for people, when a girl hugged his Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever puppy, Coren was compelled to inform her that this wasn’t exactly a walk in the park for his pet.
Since dogs are “cursorial animals” – i.e. designed for swift running as the first line of defense – by depriving them of the ability to run away by “immobilizing him with a hug,” it can lead to anxiety. If intense enough, that could lead to biting.
Coren noted that his puppy, though tolerant to most human interaction, turned his head to break eye contact, slicked his ears down, and gave a small stress yawn in response to the stranger’s hug. But had he been a less accepting dog, it could have posed a safety concern.
Which seems fair enough to me. Therapeutic as a cuddle with a puppy is, I know I don’t like to hug any old stranger – and being restrained in such an embrace might be enough to make me feel like biting.
So don’t go hugging your Uber-delivered puppy today.