Not All Dog Experts Agree About Whether Dogs Like Our Hugs

Last week, dog owners everywhere entered crisis mode when multiple sources reported that dogs hate hugs. But before you mourn the loss of your beloved cuddle time, you might want to consider the validity of the “scientific study” that broke the news in the first place.


In a recent Psychology Today article, Stanley Coren, retired University of British Columbia professor, boldly barked, “The Data Says Don’t Hug the Dog!” In his report, Coren outlines the inspiration and methodology that led him to the aforementioned conclusion. In short, Coren collected a random sample of photos from the internet and analyzed them for indicators of stress.


Coren noticed that a significant amount of the photos revealed some pretty unhappy pooches – or so he thinks. While Coren makes an interesting observation, his approach was simply not enough to constitute a scientific truth.


A Washington Post article on the subject quotes Evan MacLean, co-director of Duke’s Canine Cognition Center.


When asked to comment on the “data,” MacLean stated, “it’s important to note that (to my knowledge) this is not a peer-reviewed empirical paper so I would caution against any firm conclusions before the work can go through this important part of the scientific process.”


Simply put, Coren didn’t follow the accepted scientific practice, and thus, his observations are just that: observations.


So do dogs like hugs? Of course, you should continue to pay attention to your pup – if the furry guy seems unhappy, drop the hugging. But until this ‘data’ is confirmed as a fact, it’s safe to say you’re free to hug away.

Featured image via @daysofourpanda /Instagram

H/t to

Dr. Katy Nelson

6 years ago