VANCOUVER, Canada (CBS) – As cuddly as that new dog you just met may be, one expert says going in for a hug is a bad idea.
Psychologist Stanley Coren of the University of British Columbia has written hundreds of articles and several books on dog behavior. In a recent article for Psychology Today titled “The Data Says ‘Don’t Hug the Dog!’” Coren makes the case that embracing canines can raise their stress and anxiety levels.
While studies have shown that young children need lots of human contact growing up, Coren says the same can’t be said for dogs and puppies.
Dogs will instinctively run away if they sense danger or stress, and being immobilized in a hug only adds to their anxiety, Coren argues.
To prove his point, Coren said he looked at 250 random pictures of dogs being hugged online.
“The results indicated that the Internet contains many pictures of happy people hugging what appear to be unhappy dogs,” Coren wrote.
More than 80 percent of the dogs he looked at appeared to have anxiety or discomfort. Those signs of stress include turning the ears down, looking away to avoid eye contact and partly closing their eyes.
“The clear recommendation to come out of this research is to save your hugs for your two-footed family members and lovers,” Coren says.