Home > Animal Welfare Issues, Dog Behavior, Pet Safety > Dog says: Your hug is not welcome human. Stop it.

Dog says: Your hug is not welcome human. Stop it.


42-17207233As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog post, this week is National Dog Bite Prevention Week (May 17-23).

I’ve been planning for this week for a few months now; collecting videos, graphics and other information, so that I could share it with all of you.

Even with all the prep work, I know that not everyone will read it. This subject is not as sexy as the latest news story about a lost dog or harrowing dog rescue story, but it is a very real problem with huge impacts. Did you know?

It’s not just the emotional and physical damage one experiences when a dog bites, but it is also the cost. Not cheap is it?

One of the most common things people do, that can lead to a bite, is hug their dog.

Woman Watching Television with DogI know. I know. Your dog LOVES to be hugged. So do mine. Well actually, they really don’t. Jasper hates them. Cupcake will tolerate them. Daisy is the only one who actually invites a hug from time to time. How do I know? Because I closely watched their behavior when I did so. They stiffened up, pulled away, turned their heads and did several lip licks. Hugs are just not their thing.

You don’t have to be a dog trainer to see the signs that a dog does not want to be hugged. Just look at her body language.

  • Does she pull away from you?
  • Does she turn her head away from you when you try to get close?
  • Does she seem uncomfortable when you get too near her?
  • Does she put a paw up to keep you away when you try to hug her?

If so, then believe her. She is not trying to be cute. It is not her puppy dog way of trying to be funny. She is telling you that she does not like you in her space. (To paraphrase a quote from Maya Angelou – When a dog shows you what they like/dislike, believe them. They are not kidding.)

The video below provides a great example of a dog giving really clear signals that a hug is not okay. You don’t have to be a dog trainer to see all the signs, but I am glad his owner calls them out anyways. Observe how many signs and how many times this dog tries to let his owner know that he does not want to be hugged.

I wonder how often our own dogs give us these cues.

I wonder how often we miss them.

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  1. May 18, 2015 at 11:02 PM

    My two 4 1/2yo Border Collies like hugs when they initiate them. This is the biggest lesson we are teaching our grandchildren. Ike is a fearful dog, but very loving if he does the approaching. Tina is very independent and doesn’t like to be restrained, but she will slither into your lap when you aren’t looking. Even dogs who love us can bite if we don’t listen to them

    • Mel
      May 19, 2015 at 10:06 PM

      I love that you call that out. Yes. Some dogs do like it if they are the one initiating. So well said. Thanks for adding such a great perspective.

  2. May 19, 2015 at 4:09 AM

    This is great. I hope you don’t mind my reblogging this?

    • Mel
      May 19, 2015 at 10:05 PM

      No way! Reblog away! 🙂

      • May 20, 2015 at 3:01 AM

        Thanks, did so. 🙂

  3. May 19, 2015 at 4:14 AM

    Reblogged this on Flights of Fancy and commented:
    I didn’t have many Woofy posts lately, Maia is doing fine, so is Mikka. But I just saw this post and video on “No Dog About It” and want to spread the message. I see similar behaviour with Maia when she doesn’t want to cuddle. At other times she wants to crawl on my lap. The important message here, I think (apart from the body language) is: mind the dog’s space, just like us, they sometimes just want to be left alone.
    After watching this video, maybe we look at all the ‘cute’ kid/doggie memes a bit differently.

  4. May 19, 2015 at 6:59 AM

    My big frustration re dog bites are parents who do not think to tell their children never to approach a dog they do not know i.e. Always ask permission before touching. I have seen so many situations that were only “saved” by the dog knowing better! Hopefully this aspect will be stressed during your Bite Prevention week. 🙂

    • Mel
      May 19, 2015 at 10:03 PM

      I have experienced that frustration many times. I used to see it at the shelter all of the time. I got good at saying “Stop!” You had to be quick on your feet there.

      I Always thank a child who asks first because I want to reinforce the behavior so they continue to ask. Always.

  5. May 19, 2015 at 7:11 AM

    That was an excellent video you found. I especially like that the person pointed out that Aero is a cuddly dog who often solicits affection.

    So many people think affectionate dogs like all kinds of attention and like it all the time.

    • Mel
      May 19, 2015 at 10:02 PM

      Thanks Pamela. I’ve been saving that one for this week. It really shows so much. I especially like that you pointed out that part. Jasper is extremely affectionate, but he does not like hugs or having his space invaded.

  6. May 19, 2015 at 9:56 AM

    Children aren’t the only ones who need reminders about approaching dogs. Too many adults blissfully approach dogs thinking all is ok without checking for other distinct signals (or better, getting permission).Thank you for sharing tips & videos about essential approaching etiquette.

    • Mel
      May 19, 2015 at 10:00 PM

      Amen! So true! This is one area that drives me so crazy. Adults are worse than kids sometimes when it comes to asking for permission.

  7. leaherb
    May 19, 2015 at 3:11 PM

    Great reminder that even cuddly dogs can get uncomfortable with our human lovin’. The video was really helpful demonstrating that.

    • Mel
      May 19, 2015 at 9:59 PM

      I am so glad it spread the message. Not all dogs are as obvious, but this one helped to make it more impactful.

  8. May 19, 2015 at 6:43 PM

    I spent eight years as dog bite trainer for postal service in Cleveland, OH. We taught body language cues. Some simple but all easy to understand. Most of our bites came from known dogs. The dog on a leash or tether were really bad risks. The simple hair up on back people could see and avoid the dogs. Most cases the owners see dog add cute when tearing up the blinds when mailman approaches house. Nice to see someone still works at this. Cost cutting killed our program.

    • Mel
      May 19, 2015 at 9:57 PM

      I am sad they cut the funding for that program Amy. I suspect it is one of those training classes that you don’t see the value in actual numbers but is beneficial to every mail carrier every day they work. What a shame it is no longer there.

  9. May 19, 2015 at 6:47 PM

    We are a hugging family, we actually beg for them, and sometimes we won’t even let go, but not all dogs feel that way.

    • Mel
      May 19, 2015 at 9:56 PM

      Agree. Not all dogs do. Sometimes a dog likes it when they initiative it too.

  10. May 20, 2015 at 11:42 PM

    Great Post! I mentioned you and your dog bite prevention posts today. Thanks all your hard work in putting these together and helping to spread the word.

    • Mel
      May 20, 2015 at 11:47 PM

      Wow! Thank you so much for sharing and spreading the word!

    • Mel
      May 21, 2015 at 10:36 PM

      Thank you so much for sharing! I am glad I remembered to plan ahead this year. There is so much more we can do to educate people. This is just a drop in the bucket.

  1. May 19, 2015 at 4:15 AM
  2. May 20, 2015 at 11:49 PM

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