After a long (and what can sometimes seem like a never-ending) day, a snuggle and a cuddle with your favorite four-legged friend could be exactly what the doctor ordered.
While it is pretty much a given that you always love a good doggy cuddle, do you ever wonder how your dog feels about this close contact situation? Do they perceive us as that super annoying, grabby, aunt that showers us in unwanted kisses and refuses to leave us alone? Or is a good snuggle right up their alley? So, what’s the reason behind why dogs like to cuddle?
Dogs cuddle for safety and warmth. When a dog cuddles, he’s able to receive warmth to help regulate body temperature. Cuddling also allows him to soak up your unique scent which makes him feel loved and comfortable. In addition, this cuddling behavior releases love and pleasure hormones known as oxytocin and dopamine respectively.
It is safe to say that your canine companion would do absolutely anything in the world for you, no question. And, while they might not be able to completely understand the true complexities of these loving emotions, they are able to feel the love and devotion, although at a somewhat more basic level.
When you cuddle and love on them, they can feel the sentiment, so it is safe to say that, yes, your dog would enjoy nothing more than a little lovin.
There are endless reasons why dogs, in general, enjoy a regular cuddle (even those who pretend to despise it!), but the following are the top 12 most common reasons why you should make cuddling an everyday occurrence.
Why Dogs Like To Cuddle
12. According To Some Research, Cuddling Is More Important To Dogs Than Other Pets
While cat-lovers everywhere will whole-heartedly disagree, some studies show that canines seem to understand and seek attention, and affection, more so than other pets. They have similar emotions to ours and tend to understand the importance of affection.
11. It Is Hard-Wired Into Their Evolution
Your dog’s ancestors simply did not have the luxuries that Fido enjoys today. Wild dogs had no choice but to cuddle with each other, mainly for warmth and safety. It was, quite literally a matter of survival. Even now, in the safety and warmth of their human home, they will still seek the heat of the most favored members of their ‘pack’ (IE: That’d Be YOU).
10. Reaffirms Ownership
It is absolutely in a dogs’ natural instinct to claim ownership of you. You are his human, no if’s, and’s, or but’s about it. Cuddling and snuggling with you will reinforce this belief, which will only create a stronger relationship. A hug from you reminds Fido of the unbreakable bond that the two of you share. Keep on cuddling!
09. Your Scent
A dog’s adorable snout is an incredibly powerful thing and they use specific, individual scents to identify ‘their humans’. By getting close for a cuddle, your dog is basically being enveloped by your distinct scent. This provides him undeniable comfort and benefits him by releasing awesome feel-good hormones (we will explain later). They are also leaving behind their own individual scent, which in dog-world means that they are effectively marking their territory.
08. Alleviates Anxiety
Your specific scent can also have an unbeatable calming and soothing effect on your pooch, which is especially helpful when he is feeling anxious, nervous, or fearful. A good cuddle, which involves being completely surrounded by your scent, can actually stop his panic, in its tracks.
07. Help Heal Wounds From A Neglectful Or Abusive Background
When an animal has been subjected to prior abuse or neglect, it can take a lot of love, time, and patience to heal the deep-seated emotional trauma they are likely to be dealing with. Whether it was neglect, physical, or emotional abuse, that your dog suffered, you should always use caution when first introducing contact. Your dog might be scared and skittish. Take your time and don’t push him.
06. Make Both Of You Feel Safe And Secure
Sometimes you just need to feel safe and secure, and in this, your dog is no exception. It is a basic need for almost all living things and he will, no doubt, occasionally require this too. Holding your beloved pooch in your arms, especially in a time of need can cement the foundation of the relationship between a human and his dog.
05. Cuddling Can Be Comforting
Everybody knows that a hug is the ultimate comforting act. No matter what turmoil you might be experiencing at the moment, a loving embrace can really turn it all around. This is no different when it comes to your furry best friend, a good squeeze from their favorite person can offer the ultimate comfort and support.
04. Snuggles Provide Extra Or Much-Needed Warmth
What could possibly be better than a nice furry cuddle on a cold winter night? If for nothing else the warmth a good snuggle provides is reason enough, but really it is the entire experience of feeling loved, warm, and cozy.
03. It Can Help To Build A Stronger Bond
Those lovingly cuddly moments can help to build upon the bond that you already share. Brains are miraculous, almost magical things, and in a way, everything within a being is truly intertwined. Feelings typically go hand in hand (paw in paw?) with actions. When you show affection to your precious pet it can strengthen the connection and reaffirm the loving link that the two of you share.
02. Encourages Dopamine Release
Biologically, giving and receiving affection causes several different chemicals to be released in the brain, in both human and dog brains alike. One of these chemicals, dopamine, is known as the ‘pleasure hormone’ and can not only significantly boost your mood, but it also serves to boost long term memory. This, in addition to the other chemicals being released during cuddle time, helps your dog associate hugs from you with happiness, euphoria, and love.
01. Cuddling Releases Feel-Good Chemicals
Affection, particularly cuddling, also encourages the brain to release another feel-good chemical, this one called oxytocin, which is commonly known as the ‘love hormone’. This is the same chemical that is released when a mother looks into her child’s eyes, resulting in a flood of positive emotions. This natural response can help to cement your connection and incite even more feelings of love and contentment.
The Science Behind It
Some researchers have (fairly recently) discovered that both the human brain and the canine brain, including the way that we use them, are not as different as was first believed. These amazing animals seem to understand much more than we initially gave them credit for. They tend to use many of the same brain functions as we do. In a primitive way, most dogs are pretty much designed to enjoy a good cuddling session as much, if not more, than people do. Although due to certain circumstances, like a difficult past, some pups might need a bit more coaxing.
Do All Dogs Like To Cuddle?
Canine personalities, not unlike our own, can vary greatly between individuals. Some dogs enjoy and want to be held and cuddled in your lap non-stop (no matter how big they might be!), while others may be a little bit more distant, reserved, and standoffish. The dogs’ breed, background, and individual variances will all play a role in your dogs’ personality differences and tolerance for cuddles.
Should You Make The Effort To Cuddle With Your Dog?
Regardless if he doesn’t seem to be the cuddling type, it cannot hurt to make an effort. You, of course, do not want to push the issue. But feel free to show affection regularly and eventually, he will (hopefully) learn to reciprocate. Be patient. The reward is invaluable, promise.
Can You Train A Dog To Be Comfortable With Cuddling?
Most dogs have the capability to learn a wide range of different things so long as you are willing to work for it. Training a dog is no walk in the park, especially when the training entails gaining trust and teaching him to be comfortable with prolonged human contact. Depending on the background of the dog, this might be a bit of a drawn-out process, but it is possible. And it is pawsitively worth it.
If your dog has recently been adopted (congratulations!) or you are unsure of his background or past experiences, it might take a bit of work to get him/her comfortable with physical contact. There are also a few things you need to keep in mind for the protection of both you and the dog.
- Use caution: Move slowly. Do not use fast or jerky movements and never approach him from behind.
- Pay attention: You can typically tell when a dog is feeling apprehensive and/or uneasy by simply observing his body language. Tail tucking, flattening the ears against the head, and not making eye contact are all signs that a cuddle might not be such a great idea at the moment.
- Offer a reward: While eventually the hug itself will be the reward, providing an actual treat after a successful cuddle will help the dog adapt to, and allow the contact in the future.
- Reverse the roles: If your new friend is having none of that, you may need to allow him space and let him approach you for love when he is ready. Some dogs need to adapt in their own time, however, the payoff is absolutely priceless.
Cuddling is a universal action that everyone can understand, and every living being needs, at least once in a while. Loving contact between living beings can help us to thrive.
Even if your dog seems a bit put off when you come in for a good hug, do not let it discourage you. If the question is how to get an even better relationship with your furry friend, then the answer is cuddling.
Physical affection is one of the only ways that we have to communicate just how much our canine companions mean to us and just how much we utterly adore them.
It’s a ruff job but somebody’s gotta do it.
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