Dog owners are often fascinated by what goes on inside the minds of their canine companions. Dogs are so different from us, yet we can live together in harmony (at least for the most part).
This post will focus on one aspect of a dog’s life. We will answer the question – do dogs understand hugs?
Dogs don’t understand hugs (or anything else) in the same way humans do. Their brains work very differently from ours. Some dogs will enjoy hugs with humans, but some will not, which is down to each dog.
As dog owners, we always need to remember that dogs don’t think the same way as humans. For example, they don’t have verbal language, so their brains can’t think “she hugs me when she wants to be nice.”
That is not how dogs think or understand the world around them. The best way to think about dogs and hugging is not whether they understand hugging but whether or not they like it.
The answer to that question is that some dogs will never like hugs, others like hugs but only on their terms, and some just love hugs whenever they can get them.
Knowing When to Hug a Dog is Important
When to hug your own dog – Hugging your own dog is obviously much safer and easier to read than hugging a dog you don’t know very well.
If you know that your pooch loves hugs, then it’s easy, but if they are not always so keen, you should pay attention to their mood and body language.
It is not fair to hug your dog if they don’t want to! Some dogs will run away or growl when you try to embrace them, but some will tolerate the hug and be stressed out by it. Again, this is not fair to the dog.
When to hug a dog you don’t know – For a dog that you haven’t got a strong bond with, you should think twice about trying to hug them at all.
Unless they instigate a hug by climbing into your arms or being highly affectionate, the best bet is to stick with giving them pets and strokes as they get to know you better.
Let the Dog Instigate the Hugging
The best time to hug a dog is when they are in the mood for it, and they let you know by being affectionate and cuddly.
If your dog leans into you or jumps up to your arms, it is safe to assume this is an excellent time to try hugging them.
If they don’t enjoy it, it will be evident from their body language. If they seem uptight or stressed, you should stop hugging them and see how they react.
Note: For some more great advice, check out this short but interesting video asking – do dogs like hugs:
Final Notes on Dogs Understanding Hugs
Dogs can’t understand hugs in the same way that humans do because their brains work very differently from ours.
However, dogs can enjoy hugs, but this depends on each dog and their mood at the time.
It would be best if you did not hug a dog that does not want to be hugged. They could become aggressive or, at the least, will feel stressed out and uncomfortable.
This is not fair to the dog, so please don’t do it.
Tim is a proud, vetted, and experienced dog foster carer for a charity helping dog owners escape domestic abuse.
He has years of experience training and caring for dogs, both his own and other people’s.
He is an expert in canine behavior and is highly skilled in dealing with all dogs but specializes in the difficult ones that other people may struggle with.
When he isn’t fostering dogs, he is making friends with other people’s pups!