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Volunteer at a humane society - walking and training dogs. They have a pretty strict protocal ( I understand why - but sometimes cannot help myself) of what they want and do not want you to do. One thing they do not want is your face near the dog. My rescue BC - sometimes needs a hug (when the world gets to intense and his desire to please goes into warp speed). I know - maybe it is me that needs the hug - but holding him, stroking him slowly and whispering to him really seems to calm him down. I sometimes sit with dogs from the shelter ( after spending time with them to understand temperment) and just hold them and rock them. Mostly for strays who have never had training or owner surrenders that are traumatized that they are there. I think that I am comforting the dog. They almost always relax in my arms and rest their head on my shoulder. Am I reading human emotions into dogs? Or do some dogs just need a hug?

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I'd say that their relaxing into your says it all. I understand their not wanting you to put your face near the dogs - but that's in case of biting, for sure. A moderately dog-experienced person can read a dog well enough to know if it's tense and anxious or relaxed.

 

Do they need a hug? I'm not sure about the "hug" posture, because arms over is threatening in dog body language sometimes, but do they need body contact and gentle touches? Sure. They're social mammals just like us. My dog impaled his chest on a stick once, then limped on his hind leg. So, I checked over his legs but not his chest. However, he demanded that I touch him for the rest of the afternoon. I knew something was really wrong. He knew he wanted contact and comforting.

 

Mary

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If you read Patricia McConnell's "The Other End of the Leash" she observes that Primates are hardwired to seek ventral/ventral contact but dogs tend to view it with suspicion or as a dominance display. I used to ask Minnie to give me a hug while I was sitting on the ground with my legs outstretched. She would back up so her back was pressing against my front, dorsal/ventral.

 

As a cautionary tale, my Borzoi (now deceased) used to have no compunction about grabbing strangers' faces in his mouth when thrust in close proximity to his own--he once put a hole in the upper lip of my former boyfriend. As a result, it's not something I would ever do with a dog who is unfamiliar to me. Again, this action is considered at minimum, bad manners, and at maximum, threatening coming from strangers, according to the Dog Rule Book.

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Dogs need a lot of physical contact including kisses and hugs. I sit on the floor and hold my arms and legs open and they walk up and sit for a cuddle. All dogs need affection especially BC's since there so much like children.

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If you read Patricia McConnell's "The Other End of the Leash" she observes that Primates are hardwired to seek ventral/ventral contact but dogs tend to view it with suspicion or as a dominance display.

 

Tell that to Maddie and Dean!

 

Now, if Dean is in "work mode", he doesn't want hugs, but when he first meets people, he likes to give and get hugs.

 

And Maddie loves hugs any time any place!

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If you read Patricia McConnell's "The Other End of the Leash" she observes that Primates are hardwired to seek ventral/ventral contact but dogs tend to view it with suspicion or as a dominance display. I used to ask Minnie to give me a hug while I was sitting on the ground with my legs outstretched. She would back up so her back was pressing against my front, dorsal/ventral.

 

Yup... and if I'm seated, my dog will set himself between my legs, facing away from me, and take all the cuddling I want to give. He'll stand next to me when I'm sitting, lean into my thighs, and take side-by-side loving. He'll lie on top of me in bed and let me cuddle him. He tolerates face-to-face cuddling from me, but doesn't love it.

 

I think in general McConnell is right, that face-to-face hugging doesn't feel natural to dogs. But I think a lot of them love any contact from their owners, whom they love. And most will tolerate huggies in various sideways positions, depending who the hugger is.

 

Mary

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I just attended a behavior conference for shelter people. Ian Dunbar spoke as well as his wife and others. I had already come across this study before but they mentioned it again: http://www.nal.usda.gov/awic/pubs/Dogs/shelter_dogs.shtml

Human contact relaxes and reduces stress in shelter dogs so I would guess that the interpretation of the dogs enjoying a hug is their release of some of the stress they feel from the shelter environment.

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I've had between 5 and 10 dogs constantly for the last 11 years and I've never seen two dogs hug each other so I'm thinking this is a human behavior we teach a dog to like. I'm not saying dogs don't come to like hugs. I just don't think it's something they actually need.

 

Kevin

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^^What he said. Our need to hug dogs is for *us*, not them. I'm not saying they don't crave or enjoy human contact, just not of the hugging type. Mine all tolerate it, but I don't think it's their preferred method of receiving affection.

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^^ ^^ Ditto, ditto.

 

My dogs tolerate my hugging, as well, but they tolerate it because they have built up trust with me. Patricia McConnell also points this out in her book that a stranger may be looked at with suspicion for practicing this "rude" behavior, but a dog's trusted owner will not. I know that hugging my dogs is more for me than for them, but I also willingly give butt scratches, though that is entirely for their benefit and not mine.

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Meg seems to like a cuddle but I never put both arms around her like a real hug. She has started doing the tickle my tummy routine and seems to like that too. I notice that she loves to wedge into the corner of the sofa and sleep on her back.

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Alex wears pants??? :D

 

Jackson likes some petting, mostly at night when we go to bed. Cheyenne only wants her butt scratched. Holly simply takes anything she can get. BUT, Skip is a total love hound. He will sometimes come to me just so I can hug and love on him. He is the only one who seems to really "need" it. He is also the most insecure of all the dogs. Maybe there is a connection? Of all the dogs, Jackson is the most sure of him self. And he is the least "loving". So, maybe there is. :rolleyes:

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Lewie does not generally allow me to hug him but he’ll stand still all day for butt scratches, tummy scratches or ear rubs. If we are both chilled-out and there is no external stimulus he’ll tolerate a hug from me. He does occasionally enjoy a “snuggle cuddle” where he’ll bury his face in my lap while I massage/scratch his torso. But again, it’s on his terms.

 

He’s not a huggy or kissy boy much to my chagrin. :rolleyes:

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Mary made an important distinction that I missed...my dogs tolerate hugging from people they know and trust. A stranger or even someone not well known trying to hug Alex would make him pee his pants.

 

 

I really never hug larger dogs till I know them and it's more a play manuver but, I will hold a very scared small dog in a pressure type hold while gently stroking it. Some of the puppy mill dogs we get are absolutely stiff when you first start holding them.

 

With the bigger dogs they seem to appreciate a game that starts as a pat on the chin and sometimes ends up with mouthing my hand.

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I've known three dogs who liked to hug people -- ventral to ventral contact with no sexual or dominance elements. They didn't tolerate it, they solicited it. Two of them were mother and son. Other than that, I've known lots of dogs who seem to like to be hugged (ventral to dorsal), and others who tolerate it. I've known very few who didn't enjoy some kind of affectionate physical contact from someone they like and trust (even where the acquaintance is a short one), and it's pretty easy to read their likes and dislikes.

 

C&D, if the dog relaxes and rests his head on your shoulder, I think whatever you're doing is comforting to him.

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well my golden at home is so in tune with human emotions and from the way he reacts I think he "likes" hugs simply because he knows I like them and they comfort me. I know it's more than tolerating because when he knows i'm sat and upset he will come and lean into me so that I hug him. He acts on the behaviour simply because it makes him happy that he's making me happy i think.

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Belle loves to be hugged from the side or the back -- don't think I've ever actually tried ventral-ventral. Just not a posture I find myself in often. Girlfriend was a butt-scratch freak; no hugs for her! I don't know how many times I heard DH say, "What if I don't want to scratch your butt? What if I want to pat your head?" No thanks, Dad-- just scratch my BUTT!!!

 

Little'un, the non BC, loves being petted, loves having his ears rubbed. But NO hugs, thank you very much.

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Hugging, holding, and even just holding hands interesting. But what about and face contact with your dogs? I love a face in my face along with a little gentle face and ear chewing. Mookie starts making contented noise and soft feels good growls. Jin just lays his face next to mine. They both seem to like it and they don't turn away.

 

Do you kiss your dog on the nose? A dogs nose is cleaner than your kids face you know.

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My dogs love it when I hug them or just hold them. If I lay down on the floor they will crawl under my arms and rest there. They also sometimes ask for a hug. They will stand up on two legs if I'm sitting on a chair and then lay their paws on my shoulders. If I don't bend down and hug them they'll try to jump up on my lap. I think the reason they are asking for it from me and not from each other is because they are used to my hands petting their backs and it feels good. Dogs can't pet each other but they do lick each others ears and mouth. They can't hug each other but they love it when I wrap my arms around them and pet their backs. So I think the reason they love being hugged by humans is because we're the only ones who can hug them and give them a little bit more than another dog can give them. Dogs can't scratch each others back either but they love it when we do it! :rolleyes:

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My Ed does love a cuddle but not when he's too tired....he likes to take himself off and curl in a corner. Ed mostly does the 'side by side lean' type cuddle but when you walk in the door you get a full on face licking snog!! Also if he's hurt himself he'll come to me for hugs for reassurance etc.

xx

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I've not tried ventral-ventral hugs (thinking back maybe ever with any dog). Most dogs I've known that went willingly into that position with a human then tries to grab on and hump them :rolleyes: Not something I want to encourage. But it sounds like some of the dogs here give very nice hugs!

 

Odin is a cuddler, tho. I don't know if he needs all the cuddles he gets, but they certainly don't hurt him and I really like it.

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OMG, little Miss Shrinking Violet would have a heart attack and give a nose-ectomy (maybe not necessarily in that order) to anyone who hugged her. :DI'm not even allowed to hug her - although since I'm the only human on the planet allowed to pick her up I guess she trusts me. :D DH acts like he's going to hug her sometimes, just to get a rise out of her, but his sense of self-preservation is well-developed enough that he'd never actually do it. :rolleyes:

 

Funny thing is, Violet loves scratchies and pets and strokes and will climb into a person's lap at the least invitation. You'd never know she had this hug-phobia until you tried it and were introduced to the Jaws of Death - preceded by a warning growl only if she likes you. :D It's just one of those little idiosyncracies that makes her special to us. :D

 

Anyways, I guess I'm going to be the voice of respectful dissent and ask you please to stop hugging the dogs. Cause if there is a little squirrelly girl like my Violet amongst them, and she bites you in the face, she'd more than likely be put down for it. :D

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If you read Patricia McConnell's "The Other End of the Leash" she observes that Primates are hardwired to seek ventral/ventral contact but dogs tend to view it with suspicion or as a dominance display.

 

That may be true for most dogs, but not all. Quinn solicits hugs from friends and loved ones, as did my first Sheltie. My other dogs have ranged from tolerating hugs to disliking them.

 

McConnell also states that dogs hate to be patted on the head. Again, that's something I wouldn't do with dogs I don't know, but she was so adamant about how dogs hate this type of patting, even from those they know, that I put down the book to see how my dogs would react. I deliberately patted them much more roughly than usual, with a flat hand on the top of their head. In other words, not at all how I normally interact with them. All three merely looked at me calmly, none shrinking or pulling back. The Lhasa wagged his tail and looked to see if a treat might be forthcoming. I wouldn't say they enjoyed that type of petting, but they didn't look offended or unhappy about it either.

 

I think if the shelter dogs are relaxing in the OP's embrace, then they are getting some comfort and reassurance from it. I'm sure she isn't just swooping in on the dogs and hugging them. Even my two huggers wouldn't like that, even from me.

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