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Hugging Your Dog Is Making It Stressed Out, Study Finds

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No. NO. Stop. Bad human. BAD human.

Stop hugging your dog.

Sure, jumping into a cuddle puddle with your pup may seem like the epitome of mortal happiness, but hugging your dog could be harmful.

hug dog

In a post published on Psychology Today, Canadian researcher Stanley Coren says that hugging your dog makes it stressed out.

"Dogs are technically cursorial animals, which is a term that indicates that they are designed for swift running," writes the University of British Columbia psychology professor. "That implies that in times of stress or threat the first line of defense that a dog uses is not his teeth, but rather his ability to run away."

Preventing a dog from being able to run raises stress and, if increased to a certain point, could cause it to bite, Coren said.

To the Internet

Coren decided to conduct a study into the issue after finding little evidence on the hug-bite relationship. He turned to the Internet, humanity's grand compendium of animal photos, to analyze 250 pictures of dogs getting hugged for signs of stress.

These indicators include the dog turning its head from the hugger, lowering its ears and even licking the hugger's face.

His findings?

hug dog
Look at this dog's face. Is that joy or sheer stress? (Getty Images)

"I can summarize the data quite simply by saying that the results indicated that the Internet contains many pictures of happy people hugging what appear to be unhappy dogs," Coren wrote.

He found that 81.6 per cent of the photos showed a dog exhibiting at least one sign of anxiety or stress. Coren said only 7.8 per cent of the dogs could be perceived to have been comfortable with the hug.

So what are dog lovers to do if a hug is off-limits? Coren recommends showing your affection with a good ol' pat, a treat or a "kind word."

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