Your arms around another and theirs around you.
Not many things can make you feel the way a hug does.
An embrace brings with it so much. Affection. Comfort. Security. And…
Your dog’s protests ruin the warmth of the moment. What’s got them all riled up?
Keep reading to discover:
- How your dog perceives the action of hugging.
- Whether they’re truly capable of feeling jealousy.
- 7 reasons why they bark when you hug someone.
- And much more…
Table of contents
- Why does my dog bark when I hug someone?
- 7 reasons why your dog barks when you hug someone
- People also ask:
Why does my dog bark when I hug someone?
Your dog barks when you hug someone because they’re displaying jealousy, insecurity, curiosity, suspicion, or protectiveness. They could either be resource guarding or reacting to perceived danger. But it could also be that they just want to join in.
7 reasons why your dog barks when you hug someone
#1: They’re jealous
Remember when Galileo was accused of heresy? I mean remember when you read about it, of course. You obviously weren’t there.
But back then, it was unthinkable that the earth was not the center of the solar system. You’d be in hot water, too, if you lived in those times.
Because to you, the earth revolves around your dog. But at least now you don’t have to stand before a tribunal.
Your pooch knows about this little heresy, though. And they think that’s exactly the way things should be.
But then someone walks into
your their home. You’re delighted to see this visitor. And you wrap your arms around each other.
Your dog’s thinking, “There’s a disturbance in the force!”
Research has found evidence that dogs do feel jealousy.
A child displays jealous behavior when their mom shows affection to another kid. Scientists liken a dog’s jealousy to this.
And the ones in the study exhibited this emotion even towards fake dogs. Very much like what we can see in this video:
The study also determined they distinctly felt jealousy and not envy. The latter emotion is a desire for something one can’t have. Whereas jealousy is concerned with “protecting a social bond.”
This person caught in your bear hug sets off alarm bells. Your dog sees them as a threat to your bond.
And what does a threatened dog do? They bark.
You might also want to read: 11 Reasons Why Your Dog Barks When You Kiss + 7 Tips
#2: They’re insecure
No, they don’t worry about whether their coat is shiny enough. Or whether their pull on the tug rope was strong enough. Or whether their leap after the frisbee was impressive enough.
But dogs do experience insecurity. Just not in the way we humans do.
Their insecurities stem from other factors. But perhaps something in common is that “they are worried and suspicious of new people…”
According to a world-renowned dog trainer, Victoria Stilwell, “An insecure dog can see anyone as a potential threat…”
This brings us right back to #1. A threatened dog is a dog that barks.
And then it propels us to #3…
#3: They’re resource guarding
Resource guarding is a very common term in articles, videos, and various other resources on dog behavior and training.
It’s also been known as “possessive aggression.” But a study participated in by 85 experts decided on the term “resource guarding.”
It’s a situation where a dog “controls access to food, objects, people and locations that are important to him.”
The keywords here are “people” and “important.” And that’s precisely what you are to your dog. An important people.
Oh, pardon me. Singular. An important person.
A dog that’s resource guarding will exhibit “defensive body language or overt aggressive display.” A prime example of this is barking.
This may stem from survival instincts they’ve retained from their wild ancestors.
The natural world can be very unforgiving. Wolves need to guard that carcass. That meal could well mean the difference between whether they survive the winter or not.
The same can be said for stray domestic dogs. They’ve been reduced to scavengers. And every scrap they get their paws on is invaluable.
Your pooch is fortunate enough to be well-provided for. But resource guarding is hardwired into their nature. It will need to be trained out.
Meanwhile, they don’t need to guard scraps of food. Instead, they’ll try to control access to you. This includes who gets to go near you. And even more – hug you.
It sounds irrational. But irrationality is a byproduct of insecurity. And that, in turn, leads to resource guarding.
But it’s entirely possible your pooch isn’t insecure nor resource guarding. They just bark when you hug someone because…
#4: They’re curious
“What are these hoomans doing?”
Dogs are naturally curious creatures.
They’re gifted with senses that border on the supernatural. These contribute to and heighten their curiosity.
The sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and touches. They want to understand it all. And more! They’re also curious about other animals. And especially their favorite ones – hoomans.
Interaction between dogs is vastly different. Hugging is not on their list of salutations. Neither is licking and nibbling on ours.
Now we don’t yell when we see others in an unusual exchange of greetings. But that doesn’t mean our dogs will return the courtesy.
Your doggo may wonder what’s going on when you hug someone. And they may bark in their curiosity.
“Arrf! Arrf!” could be translated to “What does that mean? Why are you being weird?”
Because hugging is weird but sniffing someone else’s rear end in greeting isn’t.
But it could all come down to more than mere curiosity. Perhaps on top of that…
Reading tip: 7 reasons why dogs lick your arm (when you pet them)
#5: They’re suspicious
It’s in the same vein as curiosity. But this one’s a little more charged.
Your dog barks when you hug someone because they’re suspicious. Maybe they’ve figured it out. Hugging is a greeting reserved for special people.
But how many special people does dad and/or mom need?
Hold it. I’m not implying anything unseemly. But your dog could be wondering why some fellow with negative energy gets to have a hug. And naturally, they’d bark their disapproval.
Being suspicious walks hand in hand with being protective. And that’s what this next one’s about.
Read next: 17 Reasons Why Your Dog Barks At Certain People + 5 Tips
#6: They’re protective
Protectiveness is one of the most sought-after traits in dogs. If not the most sought-after.
There’s no exact statistic. But this much is obvious. A whole lot of people get dogs primarily for protection. Even the fun-size Chihuahua will protect when the situation calls for it.
Every fur parent beams with pride at their little budding guard dog. But CCPDT certified dog trainer, Adrienne Farricelli, warns that “Excessive protectiveness is a dangerous situation.”
Your dog could attempt to “protect” you from harmless people. These include people who are merely giving you a hug.
Let’s take on an analogy.
There was a very strange courtship practice in the 17th century. It was called bundling. You may be familiar with it – from reading about it, I would think. Not from actually experiencing it.
Basically, you and your betrothed spend the night together. This customarily happens in the lady’s home. And here’s where it gets weird.
Her parents tuck you both in. Yes. You read that right. And if, for some reason, that’s not weird enough for you, let’s take a step back…
Before you’re tucked in, you’re both tied up. And you’re “bundled” in heavy sacks. The purpose? To maintain chastity.
Now your dog might be more overprotective than a 17th-century parent. They don’t want anyone getting close to you. And hugging is a bit too handsy for their liking.
Unfortunately for them, they can’t bundle that person in your arms. They don’t necessarily think hugging will result in a furless sibling.
But either way, they want to be absolutely certain you’re fine. So they have a strict “look but don’t touch” pawlicy. And they’ll bark if you violate it.
#7: They think you’re in danger
Have you ever considered what a hug looks like? To other animals, I mean. And especially when they’re seeing it for the first time.
Take your puppy for instance.
The little ball of fur has come to adore you. And if anyone tries to hurt you, they’ll be the very personification of “tiny but deadly.”
Then one day, an opportunity for this presents itself.
Someone dares to
hug hurt you in their presence. Their precious hooman is in trouble. You’re restrained. You can’t move. And it’s even worse if you’re crying.
A recent study found that dogs will try to rescue people in distress. And I’m not talking about trained search-and-rescue dogs.
We’ve seen a lot of those on the news or in the movies. Some natural or man-made disaster strikes.
Along with the policemen, firemen, and paramedics, canines are on the scene. And in the middle of search efforts, a shout goes out. A four-legged respondent has located a trapped individual.
It’s impressive, to say the least. But brace yourself for something even more remarkable.
The researchers employed untrained dogs in their tests.
The owners of 60 pet dogs were “trapped” in a wooden compartment. This “restrainer apparatus” was fixed with a door their dogs could open.
They then pretended to be in distress. They were vocally coached. So their cries for help sounded genuine.
The conclusion of the study was that dogs tried to rescue their owners in an “empathetically-motivated prosocial behavior.”
Our canine companions instinctively try to help out people who are in distress. Such as when they’re being hugged.
But in your moment of great peril, it dawns on your little doggo. They can’t be as deadly as they had envisioned. Tiny is all they are.
To their credit, they won’t just sit around and do nothing. They still have one thing left in their arsenal – barking.
Bonus: They want in on the lovin’
There are times your dog protests when you hug someone.
But it doesn’t mean they want you to stop. They want you to carry on – but just with them.
My friend’s pup, Valkyrie, was once restrained in the hallway.
She had an accident in the living room. So she was temporarily kept away while it was mopped up.
Fur grandad arrived from work. Fur grandmom was in the kitchen finishing up lunch preparations. He went to give her a kiss and hug.
Valkyrie was released.
She bolted through the hallway. She went past the living room and dining room. And she got to the kitchen while her fur grandparents were still locked in an embrace.
And what did she do? Why, she joined in for a group hug, of course!
She didn’t know yet what was going on. But she must’ve thought, “Hey! This is better than hugging just one hooman!”
Her fur mom laughed hysterically at the sight and yelled, “Group hug!”
There was no need to teach Valkyrie this term a second time. She immediately associated it with more than one person hugging.
Now each time fur grandparents, fur mom, or fur uncle hug, she wants in. Especially when someone calls for a group hug.
But there are times there’s an obstacle in the way. Or perhaps she’s in the middle of a belly rub. Or she’s on the other side of the living room.
When 2 people hug, she barks as if to say, “Wait for me! I want a hug too!”
And you can be sure she’ll be there the next second.
People also ask:
Why does my dog get jealous when I hug my boyfriend?
Your dog gets jealous when you hug your boyfriend because they see him as a threat. Research has shown evidence that dogs are capable of feeling jealousy. It further indicates that this emotion compels your dog to protect your social bond – and in this case, to protect it from your boyfriend.
Why does my dog get upset when someone touches me?
Your dog gets upset when someone touches you because they’re resource guarding. Expert dog trainer, Victoria Stilwell, defines this as a situation wherein the dog “controls access to food, objects, people and locations that are important to him.”
It goes without saying that you’re important to your dog. And they see someone touching you as a violation.