Pet Talk: What your dog really wants this Valentine's Day...

For Valentine's Day, we all want to show our dogs how much we love them! We want them to know that we are so grateful to have them in our lives – they bring us so much joy, comfort, happiness and laughs!

Some of you will probably go out and buy some of their favorite treats, new toys, or a new bed. These are all really nice gifts but they are not what your dog really wants.

Here is what 99% of dogs would like you to do for them on Valentine’s day. It might shock some of you! Are you ready to find out?

Stop hugging them! Yes, for Valentine’s day, don’t hug your dog!

Why?

Because dogs don’t like getting hugged!

It is a very unnatural behavior for them. Think about it: you will never see dogs meet and greet by standing on their hind legs and reaching out their front legs to embrace each other. Dogs greet by circling each other to smell the behind and nose, and then start a game of some sort.

However, hugging is how humans and other primates greet each other and show their love to one another. We are what Patricia McConnell calls “ventral species”. We take our friends in our arms when we are happy, worried, scared, sad … So it understandable that we do this to our dogs too since we LOOOVEE them so much, and our love comes out through hugs!

The thing is, we are really just doing it to fulfill our needs. We are not thinking about our dogs’ needs when we hug them. Most dogs tolerate this weird behavior of ours, but none of them actually enjoy it. Every time you hug your dog you are stressing him out! It's so unfair!

So how can you tell your dog is not enjoying hugs?

While you're hugging your dog or just after you’ve released him from the embrace, your dog will be making signals such as:

1)    Nose lick

2)    Head turned away from you

3)    Yawn

4)    Whale eyes (when you see the whites of their eyeballs)

5)    Panting with the mouth wide open

6)    A paw lift

7)    A shake off

I know it’s hard to accept, but I think it’s good to be aware that sometimes when we think we’re showing love to our dogs, we are actually hurting our relationship.

Don’t get me wrong, I am guilty of this myself. I am human too and sometimes I just want to take my dog and hold her close because I need comforting but I’ve taught myself to resist the urge and instead wait for her to come to me. That way, when she comes to me for affection, I know it's fair and that we are building mutual trust in our relationship.

So, for Valentine’s day, I challenge you not to hug your dog for one whole day!

I know it’s going to be hard but you can do it! Join the challenge by joining the event on Bandana’s Facebook page!

I want to know if you think you can go one full day without hugging your dogs.

Do you also have a friend out there that is a total hugger? Make sure to tag them and introduce them to the challenge! #nohugchallenge

Mariane Bolla is the founder of Bandana, a dog training and special event company. Mariane Bolla is a certified dog trainer, a wildlife biologist, and an MBA graduate.

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