The internet is filled with pictures of people hugging their dogs, but have you ever taken a close look at those images? The humans in these photos often look happy with content smiles on their faces, but many times the dog’s face looks quite different. Pay attention and you may notice the dog is leaning away, turning their head away, their mouth is clamped shut, their eyes are wide with the whites visible, and their ears may be pulled back. All of these things are signs of stress.
The truth is that many – perhaps most – dogs don’t actually like hugging. In dog body language, that type of close contact can be perceived as a threat display, not a sign of affection. If you want to show your dog you love them, they would likely prefer a chest or shoulder scratch to a warm embrace.
For more information on the subject, check out this article from the ASPCA.