Why Do Dogs Like to Cuddle?
Many dogs simply love cuddling up with their owners – and let’s face it, it’s pretty great for us too! But have you ever wondered why dogs like to cuddle? Well, it’s certainly not true of all dogs, but there are plenty of evolutionary reasons for their enjoyment including the provision of warmth, relief of stress, and the demonstration of affection towards their human masters.
Let’s look at some of the possible reasons why dogs may enjoy cuddling.
Reasons Why Dogs Like Cuddling
While we can’t speak to dogs, we can speculate about the reasons why they may enjoy cuddling based on what we know about their background and scientific tests that have been undertaken.
- Providing Warmth
The action of cuddling naturally provides warmth, so it makes sense from an evolutionary standpoint. You will probably have seen puppies cuddling up with their mothers, brothers, and sisters. While we can simply put on another layer or cozy up under a blanket, the same is not true of our four-legged friends. As dogs have become domesticated over the years, cuddling up with their owners has become more normal behavior. In fact, this behavior can be traced back hundreds of years when heating in homes was not nearly as sophisticated as it is today.
- Showing Affection
For humans, one of the main reasons for cuddling is the display of affection, and domesticated dogs have learned this behavior too. Dogs are known for the close bonds they form with their owners, and cuddling is a major way of doing this. We have a close bond with our pets, and this is a relationship in which mutual affection is demonstrated. Canines have benefitted from their close bonds with humans, so it makes sense that they maintain them in the best ways they can.
- Relieving Stress
The science backs it up: cuddling provides excellent stress relief to both you and your dog. Studies have shown that the simple action of petting your dog releases oxytocin, which is a hormone that is closely associated with trust and social bonding. So, if you or your dog is in a state of stress, cuddling is a possible way of relieving it.
- Offering Protection
Another potential reason why cuddling could have been beneficial in the past is that it offered a sense of protection for both humans and dogs. Though we now live in home environments where the threats are diminished, this behavior has still continued. But there is certainly still something that is very comforting about cuddling up close to your canine companion.
Do All Dogs Enjoy Cuddling?
There is no doubt that some dogs enjoy cuddling more than others, and there are various reasons why this is the case. Genetics plays its part. Some breeds of dogs are more independent than others, while others have been bred to be more affectionate towards their human masters. Just like people, all dogs have their own independent personalities, so some are just more predisposed to enjoying human contact than others. And other dogs are happy with you petting them, but they simply don’t enjoy being cuddled.
During the summer months, your dog may be too hot to cuddle. Remember that your dog has a higher body temperature than you. It is also harder for them to cool down. You will probably already be aware that they cannot sweat and cool down by panting. Don’t try to force yourself on your dog if they are too hot.
Whatever the case, you should take your cues from your dog. While there are some dogs that like to cuddle, don’t try to force them into anything that they feel uncomfortable with. Not only could you damage the bond between the two of you, but you could cause your dog to react in an aggressive way and you don’t want to risk any harm to yourself.
Is it Bad to Cuddle with Your Dog? How To Cuddle Your Dog the Right Way
There is certainly a right and a wrong way to cuddle your dog. Some love to be touched and petted all the time, while others only want contact at certain times like at the end of the day. Some like to be touched all over their body, whereas others have very clear ‘no go zones’. The longer you have your dog, the more you should get to know their likes and dislikes. Ultimately, you don’t want to make your dog in a specific way when they really don’t want to. And don’t just think about the location that you are touching them. Other important factors include the intensity and speed of the petting.
You should also pay attention to duration. While some dogs are happy to be cuddled for many minutes, others only want a small amount of touching before they become frustrated or overstimulated. Learn to read your dog’s reactions. If they bump their head into your hand, it is the most obvious signal that they would like some more petting. They may even start to paw at you in an effort to keep up the attention. Other signs include your dog settling down on the floor and closing their eyes in satisfaction. On the other hand, if you notice your dog start to lean away from you or emits a growling noise, this is a warning that it is time to back off for a while.
While humans tend to like big cuddles, most dogs do not like being squeezed too tightly, so be gentle with your four-legged friend and know your own strength!
There are a whole host of reasons for dogs snuggling. However, it is certainly worth remembering that not all canines like it, so you need to take your cues from your dog. You should also learn the ways in which your dog does and doesn’t like to be touched. This way, you can develop a strong bond between the two of you that is boosted by physical contact.