Dogs are so adorable, it's hard not to hug them and squeeze them and love them forever. Some of them don't want our hugs, though. Here's how to tell if your dog's just not that into it. Photo by Nate Steiner
Dogs can only tell you how they feel through their body language, and as experts point out, their body language offers some important clues about how they're feeling. Erin Askeland, Training and Behavioural Expert at Camp Bow Wow sent us some examples via email:
- Tail wagging doesn't always mean a dog is happy: Check out a dog's tail when going in for a hug, because not all wags are happy wags. "Typically a slow, stiff, side to side wag with the tail straight up is a sign of an alert dog, not an excited one," Askeland points out. "A tucked and wagging tail is a sign of nervousness and submission." She adds that happy dogs have their tail at a neutral level and wag it quickly and loosely. Best of all is the helicopter tail."
- Ear position: "Ears are the barometers of dog's mood. Different breeds adjust the shape of their ears depending on their moods." Askeland says if a dog's ears are erect and facing forward, they could be interested or aggressive. When the ears are flat against the head, they're scared or submissive.
- Deciphering between aggression and overstimulation: Askeland says threatened dogs may growl, bare their teeth, bark and stand up on their toes with their ears and tail raised to make themselves look bigger. Obvious enough, but there are some subtle cues, too. "Overstimulation, in the form of fear, anxiety, excitement, surprise or arousal, can also cause dogs to experience piloerection, also known as hackles (the raising of the hair over their back and down to their tail)."
Over at Business Insider, animal behaviour researcher Julie Hecht pointed to some common signs of stress in dogs: Turning their head away from the thing that's bothering them, showing the white parts of their eyes and, as Askeland pointed out, pinning back their ears.
She adds that some dogs will put up with a hug, especially if they know you, but that might not be their preferred way to show affection. Some of us can relate. For more detail, head to Business Insider's full post below.
How to know if your dog hates hugs [Business Insider]