Why Do Dogs Like To Cuddle?

We all love to cuddle our dogs because they are our babies, and we love them so much. Have you ever wondered why dogs like to cuddle, though? 

Is it because they love us back? Or are there other reasons dogs seek to get close to us? 

In this article, we will explore the different ideas as to why our dogs like to cuddle us, and also why they don’t.

  • What Do We Mean By Cuddling?
  • The main reasons dogs like to cuddle
  • The science behind why dogs cuddle
  • Why are some dogs cuddlier than others?
  • Can you train a dog to enjoy cuddling?
why dogs like to cuddle

What Do We Mean By Cuddling?

It is essential to establish the difference between “cuddling” or “snuggling” and “hugging” because hugging is quite different.

Generally speaking, dogs do not enjoy being hugged like you would hug a child or other humans when they are upset or when saying goodbye.

In this article, we will refer to “cuddling” or “snuggling” as those precious moments when our dogs choose to be close to us. 

It is when they want to snuggle up underneath the duvet, settle on our laps, and lounge beside us on their back, nudging our hands as an invitation for belly rubs and affection.

“Hugging,” on the other hand, refers to more of a “bear-hug” show of affection. It is what small children do to their soft toys to feel comforted. 

It would help if you always taught children to respect a dog’s personal space and never go in for “hugs” in this manner. If you don’t, then a dog may perceive the hugging as a threatening behavior as it is restrictive. 

If a child or even an adult misses the warning signs that dogs give off through their body language to warn them that they are not comfortable with what is happening, then it could result in a bite. 

This would be a shame as it wouldn’t be the dog’s fault, but the dog would get the blame for it all the same.

is it ok to cuddle with your dog

The Main Reasons Dogs Like To Cuddle

Cuddling and snuggling, on the other hand, is widely enjoyed by dogs of all shapes, sizes, and ages – although not all dogs are cuddle buddies. 

We can perhaps begin to understand why some dogs enjoy cuddling more than others by looking at some of the more logical and practical reasons as to why dogs like to cuddle.

Cuddling Provides Warmth

It may not be a complete revelation, but humans are often just like huge hot water bottles for dogs, especially in the chillier months. 

If you have a small puppy and the weather is cold, then they will seek you and your body heat out for comfort and warmth. 

They do this naturally because it is what they are used to doing in the litter. 

When their littermates and mother surround them, they have all the warmth and insulation they need while they are developing and growing their layer of body fat and a thick coat of fur for insulation. 

If a dog wants to be close to you in colder weather, the reason is that it is warm and comfortable closer to your body.

Human beings often also have warm clothes on or like to wrap themselves in warm blankets. Your dog is likely to go where all of those warm layers are to make the most of the trapped heat.

Back in the early days of canine domestication, not only did humans and dogs help each other out with hunting and food, but we also helped to keep each other warm. Dogs have evolved to seek out food, protection, and warmth from humans.

Did you know that the term “three dog night” refers to the days when humans had to rely on the warmth of three dogs to keep them from freezing to death in the night?

Cuddling Signifies Affection

Dogs not only need warmth from humans, but they also need affection. They are pack animals, and one way of strengthening bonds between members of the pack is to share love through grooming, which releases feel-good hormones. 

Cuddling is similar is that it helps to bring dogs and humans closer to survive as a firm pack that works well together.

Did you know that bonding with owners is more important to dogs than it is for all other pets, including cats? 

This is due to the extended evolutionary relationship that our species have shared, reinforcing many of the traits we see in our pet dogs today, such as loyalty.

5 surprising effects of hugging your dog

The Science Behind Why Dogs Cuddle

Cuddling has long been known to be extremely useful for relieving stress. When you interact with your dog, oxytocin levels increase in both you and your dog. 

It only takes a few minutes of petting or talking and communicating with your dog each day to see this significant increase. 

Oxytocin is often referred to as the “love hormone.” The presence of this hormone helps with social bonding, and to increase trust levels. 

Research has shown that these interactions between humans and dogs create the same positive hormone response that occurs when a mother bonds with her baby.

Why Are Some Dogs Cuddlier Than Others?

Not all dogs were created equally, though, and some dogs seem way more emotionally independent and are not as cuddly as others. 

If you have a dog like this, you may feel disappointed and wonder if it is because your dog doesn’t love or need you as much as other people’s dogs.

Please don’t beat yourself up about it. It is unlikely that your dog hates you or that you must be doing something wrong for them not to want to get up close and personal. 

Often the reason lies in the dog’s genetics. Some breeds of dogs were bred to have more independent qualities due to the work they were bred to do. 

For example, dogs that were bred to herd or watch sheep would not have been very good at their job if they spent all of their time cuddling and bonding with the sheep or their shepherd. 

These kinds of dogs were bred to be alert and on the lookout for danger. They were bred to think on their toes and be active for the most of the day, not for lounging around on the sofa getting belly rubs.

Other dogs have been bred for the complete opposite. Many smaller dog breeds, for example, were bred specifically to be lapdogs for wealthy people. 

It was essential to breed qualities into these dogs that would make them good at their jobs, which would have been to sit on someone’s lap and be cuddled. 

Some breeds you may recognize as laptops are Pomeranians, Yorkshire terriers, and Italian Greyhounds. 

These small dogs love to be showered with affection and adored, especially the Italian Greyhound, who are often called “Velcro dogs” since they like to stay as close to their humans as physically possible. 

This probably has a lot to do with how skinny they are, so they rely more on their human body heat than other dog breeds.

Can You Train A Dog To Enjoy Cuddling?

You can’t always train or encourage a dog to be cuddlier, but if you start early when it is a puppy, you may be able to shape your relationship more effectively before a dog gets stuck in his ways. 

It would help if you spent a lot of time touching your puppy all over its body so that it learns to trust you entirely and enjoy being petted and massaged. 

A dog that because accustomed to a bit of pampering will be the type of dog that comes to you for cuddles more readily.

If you have an older dog, you can slowly teach him to appreciate a bit of closeness with regular petting and massage sessions, treats, and soothing chatter. 

But if you have a grumpy old dog that prefers his personal space, you should always respect this, and never force a dog to physically endure something that they are not genuinely 100% enjoying.

FAQS

Is it bad to cuddle with your dog?

Cuddling is also a great stress reliever. Petting and talking to a dog for just a few minutes has been shown to increase oxytocin levels in dogs. Oxytocin, often referred to as the love hormone, is associated with social bonding and trust.

Why do dogs like to sleep next to you?

Dogs sleep next to you to feel safe and know when you move. Your dog is showing trust in you by sleeping against you. Oxytocin is increased when your dog is happy and shows affection.

Why does my dog follow me everywhere I go?

If your dog follows you everywhere, it's likely a result of their animal instinct and pack mentality. Dogs who do this are referred to as “Velcro dogs,” due to their desire to be attached to your side. They may follow you around, even to the bathroom, to protect a part of their pack.

Summary

Cuddling is the perfect way to show your dog that you love them, and when they seek you out for cuddles too, it can be a wonderful feeling, even if you suspect they are just looking to share your body heat on a cold winter’s evening. 

Cuddling with your puppy will build a long lifetime bond that can't be broken.

why do dogs like to cuddle
(Last Updated On: March 28, 2020)
Liz
 

I'm a self-employed blogger, life-long pet parent, and lover of dogs and somehow manage to have time to pursue another of my passions - writing. I’m the primary contributor and editor of PUPPY FAQS. I love to write about nutrition, health, and care of puppies. In my spare time, I volunteer at my local dog shelter. If you have a question that needs answering, please leave a comment below, and I will do my best to explain it.

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