Category Archives: hugging

Do Dogs and Cats Like to Be Hugged?


By Linda Cole

To us, a hug is a natural human reaction that shows affection. We don’t hesitate to throw our arms around the neck of a special friend or family member we haven’t seen in a long time. Unfortunately, our pets aren’t human and probably have no understanding of what a hug means. When we give our dogs and cats hugs, it won’t ruin a friendship but we might have just ruined the moment for them. Hugs can be a touchy situation for most pets.

Cats and dogs use body language to interpret the intentions of other cats and dogs. Dogs understand social order in the pack and which actions signal dominance and aggression. When one dog puts a leg over the back or shoulder of another dog or mounts him with both legs on his back, this is showing that the dog on top has dominance over the other one.

There’s a similar social order for cats, but it’s defined more by the sex of the cat and reproductive status. A pregnant female has a higher social rank than a neutered male. It’s also more complicated than the dog hierarchy because it can change depending on where the cat resides. For cats who live with humans, we are seen as the alpha if we are providing for their care. The one who cleans their cat pan and feeds them, as far as they are concerned, is the boss. However, cats and dogs view hugs in about the same way.

Cats can be more standoffish than dogs; that’s just their independent nature. Like dogs, cats feel threatened by other cats and even their human standing over them, especially if eye contact is being made. In both the dog and cat world, eye contact can mean aggression and most cats become uncomfortable when we stare at them. When we wrap our arms around our pet’s neck to give them hugs, most pets would prefer that we didn’t, if they had a choice. That’s one area where dogs and cats do agree.

Like dogs, most cats don’t like the confining feeling that comes with one of our loving embraces. A cat will react in the same way as a dog when we drop our hand down toward their head. It’s seen as an aggressive move on our part. A cat will generally let you know when they want attention, and it’s usually on their terms. Plus, very few cats or dogs like to be held down against their will which leaves them with a feeling of no control over the situation.

Of course we want to give dogs and cats hugs, and some pets do seem to enjoy them. The more pets trust and respect us, the more apt they are to “allow” us to wrap our arms around them in an embrace. But since there are no hugs in their world, they are confused about what it is or how they should respond to one. So they react accordingly.

Children should be taught to never hug dogs or cats they don’t know. When hugging a family pet, they need to be careful not to squeeze the pet too hard. For most dogs, the shorter the hug, the better. Like us, they need their space, and when we wrap our arms around their necks, we are violating their space. We don’t like having someone standing with their face close to ours during a conversation and that’s how it likely feels to a dog. You know your dog better than anyone else. It’s up to us as pack leader to help our dogs understand that hugs are not threatening and that we mean them no harm. Dogs and cats who trust their owners are more likely to tolerate hugs.

There’s nothing wrong with giving your dog or cat a loving embrace. I hug mine all the time. Some pets do seem to enjoy a hug now and then as long as we don’t get carried away with our affection. By all means, hug your pet! Just keep it short and sweet because even though we enjoy hugging our pets, for the most part, it’s not their favorite way to spend time with us.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

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Have You Hugged Your Pet Today?


By Julia Williams

The importance of hugs should never be underestimated. Without this vital form of touch, our health (both physical and mental) would surely suffer. Many of you may remember hearing the true stories about babies in orphanges overseas who were deprived of touch, and they failed to thrive and grow. Studies have also shown that how we were touched – or not touched – early in life can even impact our immune system later in life.

Touch never loses its force. Hugs never lose that magical ability to transform a crappy day into a great one. Hugging dissolves barriers between people; it melts the metaphorical “ice” around a person’s heart, and helps us cope with pain and sadness.

Can you imagine never hugging your pet? I certainly can’t. Although an animal’s intellectual ability differs from humans, they still have thoughts and emotions, and the basic right not to suffer at the hands of their human caretakers. Unfortunately for pets, the moral rule and the laws on what constitutes neglect are much more lax than with human beings.

A few years ago, I nearly ended a friendship over this very thing. My friend was renting a cottage where the landlord lived on the property. They kept a German Shepherd in a small pen very near the entrance to his cottage. And when I say “small,” I mean small. The poor dog belonged to the landlord’s son who didn’t live on the property. It was rather obvious no one paid this dog a lick of attention other than putting down food and water for it. The dog was never taken out of its pen to go for a walk or get a bath (and it stunk to high heaven!), and who knows when it had received any form of affection.

As an animal lover, it distressed me greatly to see a dog kept in such deplorable conditions. I begged my friend to do something to help the dog. I asked him to talk to the owner about the dog’s care, or ask if we could walk it or give it a long overdue bath, but he didn’t want to get involved. I could’t understand how he could drive up every day, look over at the dog who was crying out for attention, and just go into his house. It broke my heart.

I called the animal shelter to ask them what constituted animal cruelty, and was told that as long as it had food and water, and some shelter (it had a partial makeshift roof over one end of its pen) there was nothing they could do. I was aghast that in this day and age it was still legal to treat an animal like that. However far we’ve come with human rights, it’s apparent we still have a long way to go in regards to our pets.

In the end, I persuaded my friend to speak to the owner, who spoke to his son. He came over now and then to let the dog run in their yard on a very long tether. He also gave it a bath. This wasn’t much, but it was certainly better than what the dog had before. My friend and I could also pet him without needing to take a hot shower afterwards. I wanted so much more for this beautiful dog who definitely drew the “short stick” in life, but it was out of my hands.

If I made the laws, hugging would be a basic right for all animal companions. But since I don’t, all I can do is give my own three cats as many hugs as humanly possible. It’s a win-win for us all. They enjoy the attention and the love, and I get to feel the pure joy that comes from touching (and being touched by) another soul. It doesn’t matter to me that a “fur coat” sets us apart in terms of species classification. A hug is a hug, and it’s one of life’s greatest pleasures.

Have you hugged your pet today?

Read more articles by Julia Williams

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.