Friday, January 30, 2015

How to Love Your Dog - It's Not What You Think!

Think that your dog likes hugs and kisses? Well if he is like most dogs, then he does not enjoy this type of human affection. Children want to show love to dogs by giving hugs and kisses, because this how they show affection to people they love. Hugs are not a natural form of canine interaction to show affection. To show your dog that you love him, learn to give him the things that he really does like and teach your kids to do the same.

Most dog bites are to children, by the family dog or another dog known to the child. Hugs and kisses are a major cause of facial bites to children. Doggone Safe offers suggestions for safe ways to love your dog that the dog will appreciate.

Children (and adults too) often want to show love to dogs the way we show love to each other, through hugs and kisses. Dogs do not naturally understand this, or even enjoy it. Hugs and face-to-face contact can be very threatening to dogs. The dog may tolerate this for a while, but at some point may bite or snap to protect himself once he has exhausted all his means of more subtle warning. Some dogs do enjoy a hug from a special person, if it is on their terms and done with some extra scratching on the chest. Few, if any dogs enjoy hugs the way young children do this, which is to clasp around the neck and hang on. Parents, teach your children to avoid face-to-face contact with any dog (even their own dog) and to show love to the dog in ways other than hugging and kissing.

Doggone Safe offers the following suggestions for Valentine’s Day about how to love your dog in a way that the dog will appreciate.

Touch Your Dog
  • Invite your dog to come to you for attention. If your dog turns away or moves away, respect his wishes and leave him alone. Many dogs like to be near you, but not necessarily to be touched.
  • Scratch your dog on the side of the neck or on his chest.
  • Avoid hugs and kisses. People enjoy this, but most dogs don’t like hugs and kisses. They might tolerate it, but few actually enjoy it.
  • Invite your dog to sit with you while your read or watch TV. Let him lean on you or put his head on your lap on his terms.
  • Some dogs enjoy a scratch behind the ears. Most dogs don’t enjoy hands coming down on the top of their heads.
  • Pet your dog and then stop. If he tries to get you continue then you will know he likes it.

Play With Your Dog
  • Play games like fetch and hide and seek that do not involve chasing or rough play.
  • Take your dog for lots of walks.

Understand Your Dog
  • Learn to read dog body language so that you can understand what your dog is trying to tell you.
  • A happy dog pants and wags his tail loosely. He may wag all over.
  • An anxious dog might show a half moon of white in his eye or he may lick his lips or yawn. He may turn his head away or walk away. He wants to be left alone.
  • A dog that suddenly goes stiff and still is very dangerous and might be ready to bite.
  • A dog with his mouth closed and ears forward and/or with his tail held high is busy thinking about something and does not want to be bothered.

Reward Your Dog
  • Look for things your dog does right and give him a treat or praise, petting or play. Never hit or yell at your dog.
  • Give your dog a stuffed Kong or Chewber or other long lasting chew treat to enjoy while he lies on a mat or in a crate.


  1. Really love this being presented as a list - it makes it easy to use for parents. I'll be sharing it. Thanks!

  2. Our staffie licks you continually n when you cover your face she trys to get her tongue under your hand...her whole bidy waggs not just her tail .she has always been a kissey dog..shud i stop her? She is 5 n akways done it.

    1. MY staffie does the same he also uses his paw to pull your hand out the way to carry on licking. I don't know whether to stop him or not my other staffs have never done it. The whole body wag is a staffie trait! I don't see a problem with it he stops when told too and does it willingly think its just cleaning.

    2. There's a big difference between YOU kissing your dog and your DOG kissing (licking) you. Receiving doggie kisses is the joy of being a dog parent! Just avoid kissing or hugging your dog as you may notice their body language will change dramatically.

    3. my staffy is also a kissy dog, maybe it's a staffy trait. she also likes to climb on her dads lap and put her paws round his neck and smush him!

    4. I think whether or not you let your staffie licka and give kisses is up to you. That's obviously something he is willingly doing so as long as it doesn't freak your kid out and your kid isn't trying to pull his face while he doesn't it shouldn't be "dangerous". For the sake of this article I think they were talking more about when kids hold the dog to kiss them on the face or head and the dog panics because they're being restrained and advanced on.

  3. Excellent tips. Really useful stuff .Never had an idea about this, will look for more of such informative posts from your side.. Good job...Keep it up
    Dog behavior

  4. I guess each dog, like each human is different. My 11 yr. old Girl (dog), likes to be held an we touch cheeks and she will not move away as long as my cheek is touching hers. However, I have been caretaker of this animal since weaning and I've touched here pretty much all over during baths, during inspections of health, etc. She never flinches from me, now a stranger, or child, that would certainly be different. KNOW your dog. That's really what this is about

  5. Except Pembroke Welsh Corgis seem to love hugs.

  6. Should print this to have on hand when ppl let their young kids approach my dogs, screeching, hands out and try to hug them. Seriously. This happens all the time, strange dogs and the parents think it's cute then give me dirty looks if my dog backs up, barks or even growls. They also give me the look if I ask the child not to do that.

  7. Good article. Its important to teach people, specially at a kids stage, that we should respect dogs. They are loving friends, NOT toys.

    Having said this, my dog loves me to kiss him. I come home and kiss him, he puts his ears down, and rests his head on my chest so I continue. I also scratch/massage his bodie at the same time.

  8. You can train your dog to enjoy hugs and kisses, some dogs absolutely love the attention. Key word " some " My dogs love having children over, but it is always watched.