We all like to share a little love on Valentine’s Day but hugs and kisses aren’t the best way to show your dog you love them. Tight hugs and close, face to face contact can be threatening and unpleasant for many dogs.
A study by Dr Stanley Coren in 2016 analysed 250 photos of adults & children hugging dogs which had been randomly selected from the internet. In over 80% of the photographs the dog pictured was showing some kind of stress signals – lip licking, whale eye, ears held back or heads turned away.
Children, and boys in particular, are poor at recognising the signs that a dog is stressed – only 1 in 3 children can identify a fearful dog. This inability to recognise when a dog is trying to tell us he’s uncomfortable results in bites. Did you know that 77% of all dog bites involving children come from the child’s own family dog or a friend’s dog – dogs the children know and love. Our perception of dog bites is often of a strange, aggressive dog when in actual fact a bite is statistically more likely to come from the dog lying beside you right now.
So this Valentine’s Day show your dog you love him without physical hugs and kisses. And teach your kids the same. A belly rub, a scratch behind the ears, a juicy bone or a game of tug are all more appropriate ways of showing him how much you love him. But don't smooch the pooch!