If your dog hugs you a lot, you might be wondering why and what you can do about it. This post will show you six common reasons why dogs do it and what you can do to get it to stop.
So, why does my dog hug me so much? Possible reasons why your dog hugs you so much are anxiety, having learned that the behavior is rewarded, wanting something from you, boredom, or nature.
It is actually possible that there is a combination of causes at play. However, there are some things you can consider when figuring out the main causes and there are many things you can do about them.
Reasons why your dog hugs you so much
Below are a number of reasons why your dog might have been doing it and what would make each of them more likely to be the main reason.
Encouraging the behavior
The cause could be that it has learned that the behavior gets rewarded. If you tend to give it things such as toys, treats, extra attention or other rewards, when it hugs you, it will likely do it more in order to get more rewards.
The cause could also be that something has been causing it to be anxious. This would be more likely if it tends to do it more when something might be causing it to be anxious such as when there are noises outside.
It could also be the case that it does it due to separation anxiety and it wants to be alerted when you leave. This would be more likely if it shows signs of being anxious when you are leaving by doing things such as pacing or crying.
It wants something
The cause could also be that it wants something from you. This would be more likely if it does it more before getting things such as food or exercise and less after getting those things.
It might also be the case that it is bored and waiting to see when you will do something with it. This would be more likely if it tends to do it more before getting exercise.
Dogs were bred to be around their owners for hours on a daily basis. As a result, it is natural for them to want to be around their owners a lot. The reason why your dog does it could be that it does it naturally and it wants to feel like it is around other members of its pack.
It’s not likely to be dominance
Many people jump to the conclusion that their dogs do it because they are trying to be dominant. However, the alpha/beta dynamic has been disproven in studies showing that wolves take turns in taking the lead.
With that being said, it could be doing it due to bullying behavior which would be more likely if it tries to get you to move and if it shows signs of aggression when doing it. In this case, it would help to avoid giving it reasons to feel threatened and to get it to learn to behave the way you want it to with training programs such as NLIF (“Nothing in Life is Free) dog training.
Things to consider
Below are some things to consider when figuring out the main reason why your dog has been doing it.
What is different when your dog does not hug you
If your dog does not always do it, it would help to consider what is different when it does it. For example, if it only hugs you just before you leave home, it would be more likely that it does it because it has some separation anxiety.
What else happened when it first started doing it
If your dog did not always hug you so much, it would also help to consider what else happened when your dog first started doing it. If it started doing it suddenly, it could be due to things such as learning that the behavior gets rewarded or something causing it to be anxious.
The body language it shows
It would also help to consider the body language your dog shows when it does it. If it shows signs of being relaxed such as having its tongue out or getting you to pet it, it would be more likely that it is being affectionate. Whereas, if it shows more anxious signs such as crying or making itself seem small, it would be more likely to be due to something causing it to be anxious.
What to do about your dog hugging you so much
Below are a number of options you have when dealing with the behavior.
Limit reasons why it might be anxious
As mentioned above, it might be the case that it has been doing it due to something causing it to be anxious. It would help to limit reasons why it might be anxious by doing things such as feeding it, exercising it and letting it pee before leaving it.
Redirect its focus
Another option would be to redirect its focus towards something else when it is about to hug you. By doing so, you should be able to get it to reduce the habit of hugging you. Things to redirect its attention towards could include toys, a bone or performing an exercise such as rolling over.
Don’t encourage it
As mentioned above, it could be the case that your dog has learned that the behavior gets rewarded. Instead, it would help to reward it when it behaves the way you want it to and to avoid rewarding it when it does not.
Give it another place to sit
It could also help to give it another location to sit in so that it is less likely to come and hug you. Another option would be to give it a crate to go to where it can feel secure.
If your dog has been doing it excessively and showing a lot of anxiety, it could help to get help from a dog behaviorist. By doing so, you should be able to see what has been causing the behavior and what you can do to get it to stop.