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Today I posted a link to a video entitled “Dogs Don’t Like Hugs” on my facebook page.  The first few comments have compelled me to elaborate on my position, and since today is HUG-YOUR-DOG Day, now is as good a time as any.  Dogs don't hug each other. I do admit, if we socialize them early on with our quirky human behaviors, then they can learn what we do and that it means good.  However, far too many dogs are not sufficiently socialized. I have personally worked with many dogs that are constantly stressed by things that make us feel good. HUGS are not understood to mean affection by your average dog. Almost every one of the viral videos I've seen supposedly depicting dogs and kids displaying their love and affection for one another, to ME show dogs that are throwing all kinds of stress signals. These are subtle and most people who don't know what to look for will miss them. But these are warning signals, and if they go unanswered, problems can escalate. IT IS NEVER WORTH IT TO ALLOW A CHILD TO HUG A DOG BECAUSE YOU THINK YOUR DOG UNDERSTANDS THAT IT MEANS LOVE. The consequences are too great. I have worked with many dogs that have bitten, and I have seen too many preventable bites. Kids need to be taught to not hug dogs. Kids need to be taught to not approach any dog, but instead to allow the dog to approach and invite physical touching. Kids need to be taught hands-off, non-threatening ways to interact with dogs (tricks, training games). People need to be taught that dogs do not think like we do, they don't communicate like we do, and they don't love like we do. Their love is deep and unconditional, but it doesn't need to be physical.  Err on the side of caution, please assume your dog doesn’t want to be hugged, let him prove me wrong and ask for it, but don’t invade his space.  Pass it on!  DON’T Hug your dog today! 

Related: National Dog Bite Prevention Week is May 20-26, 2012

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