A. We humans
use hugs to communicate our affection. Dogs also use gestures - like nuzzling, nudging and rubbing up against either - to show affection. Using human gestures on our
canine companions, however, can make them uncomfortable.
Here are some suggestions on how to let your dog know how much you love him WITHOUT making him flinch!
NOTE: Parents, please share this with your children.
- Respect your dog's space. Since dogs don't hug like we do, they often feel cornered or trapped when hugged. Instead of hugging, try petting him instead.
- To a dog, petting is similar to nuzzling. It's relaxing and calming to him. The most enjoyable type of petting we can give a dog is to stroke him under his chin and on his chest. Dogs that are hypersensitive to touch because of age or illness may find even the softest touch startling, so keep your movements slow and even.
- Don't pick up your small dog. While most of us cannot physically pick up a Bull Mastiff, we don't hesitate to swoop down and lift tiny dogs like Bichons or Chihuahuas. We forget that no matter how small, a dog is still a dog. Being held is simply not natural to a dog and puts him in a position where he may feel trapped, or injured if he should fall.
- Grabbing your dog's collar to deal with issues like jumping
up or bolting out the door can be viewed as very threatening. You may have noticed that the more you pull back on
your dog's leash or collar, the more he pulls forward. This is
a natural, built-in reaction that can cause damage
to the dog's neck and back.
- Help your dog get used to being handled physically for nail clipping, grooming, washing, and veterinary checkups by gently touching his body, head, and feet every day. Make these sessions pleasant by giving him treats, which are both a reward for his good behavior and a distraction while he is being groomed or examined.
By building a foundation of trust with your dog, he will understand that your touch is not only enjoyable but will keep him safe from harm.