As the Beatles once sang, happiness is a warm dog… or something along those lines.
When you’re in the company of a dog, the urge to pat/scratch/hug them is a tough one to resist. It seems like the ultimate win-win — rubbing a pup’s belly is undoubtedly one of life’s top five most joyful experiences, and they appear to relish our physical affection. Or do they?
An expert in canine psychology has shared a theory that will bewilder many dog lovers: those loving embraces of yours could actually be stressing your furry friend out.
Writing for Psychology Today, the University of British Columbia’s Dr Stanley Coren explains that dogs are cursorial animals, meaning their first line of defence in the face of stress or a threat is the ability to run away. This becomes an issue when they’re physically prevented from doing so.
“Behaviourists believe that depriving a dog of that course of action by immobilising him with a hug can increase his stress level and, if the dog’s anxiety becomes significantly intense, he may bite,” Dr Coren writes.
Watch: Mia Freedman recently adopted a pup named Bella. Meet her here. (Post continues after video.)