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13 Reasons Why Dogs Grunt And Groan When You Hug Them

Why Does My Dog Grunt When I Hug Him

Are you the type of dog parent who enjoys hugging your pooch?

But the real deal here is… does your dog like being hugged?

Your dog suddenly becomes a grunter and a groaner when you hug them.

And you can’t help but think:

“Are they mad? Don’t they love me anymore?”

In this article, you’ll find out:

  • Dog breeds that are most likely to be grunters. 
  • Whether medical issues cause dogs to grunt and groan. 
  • 13 unexpected reasons why your dog grunts and groans when hugged. 
  • And many more…

Why does my dog grunt when I hug him?

Your dog grunts when you hug him because he might be happy, relaxed, or sleepy. It may also be due to your dog’s breed. Or he’s grunting as a coping mechanism to stress. 

Why does my dog groan when I hug her?

Your dog groans when you hug her because she might feel scared or she’s not used to it. She might also suffer from respiratory problems, lethargy, osteoarthritis, or stomach problems. Or you might hug her incorrectly.

13 reasons why dogs grunt and groan when you hug them

#1: Your pooch is happy

Some dogs grunt when hugged to express happiness.

There are pooches who enjoy the human touch. Especially from humans that they love. Some dogs will even seek or ask for it on their own terms. 

You might notice them pawing at you when you’re busy with something. Or jumping around when you come home. 

If you respond to them with physical touches, such as hugging, it’ll make them happy. Grunting could be their way of telling you their thanks or keep going. 

A happy grunt will sound:

  • Low.
  • Soft.
  • Husky.

Also, grunting due to happiness doesn’t limit to hugging. It could also be due to:

  • Petting.
  • Napping.
  • Cuddling.
  • Good meal.
  • Nice bedding.

#2: Your pawed child is relaxed 

A warm hug could make your fur baby feel relaxed. And a relaxed dog might make sounds like grunting to express it. 

The feeling could be compared to when we lay on a soft bed after an exhausting day. 

This may also be what your dog feels when they’re in your arms. Say your dog had a busy and tiring day. For example, they had training and a lot of playing.

Hugging them when they’re exhausted might feel relaxing. As a result, they’ll grunt as if saying…

“It feels good to rest here, hooman.”

Warning: Too much exhaustion in dogs may cause:

  • Hiding.
  • Hyperactivity.
  • Forgetfulness.
  • Lose of self-control.

#3: Your dog is scared 

Your Dog Grunts And Groans When Scared

Fear may also be one of the factors why your dog grunts and groans when you hug them. 


Because it could be their way of expressing their frustration. Or a cry for help during fearful situations. 

There’s a lot of things that might scare your pawed child. A few of these are:

Hugging a dog when they’re scared might give them a sense of relief. And this could make them grunt even more. 

Your dog is scared if they:

  • Yawn.
  • Cower.
  • Lick their lips. 
  • Put their ears down.
  • Avoid eye contact.
  • Tuck their tail behind their legs.
  • Raise their hackles (the hair on the back of the neck).

Don’t miss out on: Can dogs die from stress of fireworks? 9 dangers you must know about

#4: Your fur baby is sleepy

“I’m trying to get some sleep, hooman.”

Did you hug your pawed child while they’re sleeping?

If so, that could be the cause why your dog grunts and groans. Because when a dog sleeps they involuntarily make sounds such as grunting and groaning. 

Or does your dog get enough sleep lately?

According to Dr. Nicholas Dodman, dogs, in general, should have about 10 hours of sleep a day. 

But the duration of sleep differs for every dog. A puppy for example should have between 12 to 15 hours of sleep. While senior dogs should sleep 16 to 18 hours.

So, it may happen that your pooch lacks sleep and they express it through grunting. 

Signs that your dog doesn’t have enough sleep if they’re:

  • Grumpy.
  • Forgetful.
  • Unfocused.
  • Disoriented.

Further reading: 5 reasons not to bother a sleeping dog 

#5: Your pooch is a puppy

It’s normal if a puppy grunts and groans when you hug them. 

Baby pooches often grunt or groan as one of their means to communicate.

“What does their grunt mean?”

AKC says that in puppy language, grunt is an expression of pleasure. One example of this is when puppies settle down for a nap on a soft bed.

So, your little pup might find pleasure in your hug. That’s why they grunt when you do so.

Also, other ways for a puppy to communicate is by:

  • Yelping.
  • Whining.
  • Growling.
  • Tail position.
  • Body posture.
  • A flick of their ears.

#6: Your pawed child is uncomfortable

It’s true that there are dogs who like hugging. But most dogs don’t understand it. Plus, they might also feel restricted.

“But how would I know that they don’t like being hugged?”

Just watch your dog’s body posture. An uncomfortable dog’s:

  • Tail is low.
  • Avoiding eye contact.
  • Body posture is tense.
  • Lifting front paw in hopes of disengaging.

So if your dog isn’t a fan of hugging they’ll grunt and groan to convey it. They do this instead of showing aggressive acts towards you. Such as growling and biting. 

You also might hug your dog in the wrong way. As a result, your dog will grunt and groan as a sign of discomfort.

Let’s say you’re hugging your dog around their stomach area. Which will cause uncomfortability. 

Dr. Rebecca says that when dogs are held, it’s common if they exhale and then grunt. She also adds that it usually happens when pressure is applied to a dog’s stomach.

“So, what’s the right way of hugging them?”

You may start by resting your hand on your dog’s back. Make them used to your touch first. 

Then, wrap one arm around the chest and the shoulder of your dog. With the other, support the backside.

It’s best to avoid encircling your arms around their bellies. That way Fido won’t feel discomfort on their tummy because of hugging.

Check out this video on how to do it properly:

#7: Your dog grunts due to their breed 

It’s true that any dog breed may grunt. But there are dog breeds who’re bigger grunters than others.

These are…

Brachycephalic breeds

This refers to dogs with short heads and snouts. They’re often called short-headed breeds. 

ACVS says that short-headed dogs often experience breathing difficulties and obstructions.

The reason for that is the short bone structure of their muzzle. They also have soft tissues on their nose, mouth, and throat. And that makes them sensitive to breathing problems.

As a result, their airways are frequently deformed and restricted. Which allows for less oxygen intake with every breath.

Signs of breathing problems in brachycephalic dogs are:

  • Grunting.
  • Snorting.
  • Wheezing.

So, given that your dog belongs to the short-headed breed. It’s possible that by hugging your pooch, you restrict their breathing. And that reason will make them grunt or groan. 

Dogs that belong to this group are:

  • Pugs.
  • Boxer.
  • Bulldogs.
  • Shih Tzu.
  • Lhasa Apso.
  • Chow Chow.
  • Boston Terrier.

#8: Your pawed baby is not used to it

According to experts, anything unfamiliar to dogs may be considered a threat to them. 

So, when your dog happens to be new to hugging. Their grunts or groans might be a sign of defense. 

It’ll likely happen if your dog doesn’t get enough human touch. 

Let’s say your pawed child often spends their day alone. Just waiting for their busy human pack to come home. 

That causes them to have rare physical interactions. So, they might feel uncertain when you hug them. 

Now, if you think your dog lacks socialization and is not used to being hugged. The best thing to do is counter conditioning.  


When you’re doing counter-conditioning to your dog. You must use something that your pawed baby adores. Such as a yummy treat or their favorite chew toys.  

You may start by exposing your dog with a touch on their shoulder. Touch them when they’re looking at you so it won’t startle them. Then give them a treat. 

After that, you may proceed with petting them longer than the previous time. If your dog seems to get used to it, you can do something more such as hugging and cuddling with them.

Don’t forget to always pair your touch with a treat. It’ll make them think that being touched isn’t a threat. Instead, they’ll see it as a positive experience through the help of the rewards. 

Note: Don’t force your dog to engage in human touch if they aren’t ready for it. This might harm both of you. Your dog could get aggressive and bite you. And that might lead to a behavioral problem in your dog.

#9: Grunting and groaning is your dog’s coping mechanism 

Your dog may grunt or groan when you hug them as a result of stress. 

Most of Fido’s stress comes from their environment. It could be due to loud noises, a new home, or phobias.

Stressed dogs have different ways of coping with what they feel. 

Actually, some dogs may grunt or groan when visiting the vet. They’re doing it because of anxiety. Plus, they might have an injection phobia. 

Grunting and groaning will be their way to calm themselves down. Especially if this is a new behavior you notice in them.

Experts say that if your dog starts to act differently then that could mean they’re in distress.

Your dog is in distress if they are:

  • Pacing.
  • Panting.
  • Digging.
  • Barking.
  • Howling.
  • Chewing.
  • Shivering.
  • Trying to escape.
  • Excessive licking.
  • Destructing furniture.

#10: Lethargy

Grunting and groaning might also mean “No hugging, I’m not feeling well.”

Dogs may act differently than usual when they’re ill. For example, your pooch who’s clingy and a hugger might become distant and grumpy. 

One cause of this sudden behavioral change could be lethargy.

Lethargy causes dogs to be sluggish, drowsy, or dull.

A lethargic dog will no longer show interest in things that they used to enjoy. Such as walking, playing, eating, and hugging.  

In some instances, lethargy can be due to a very hot temperature. But it can also be a symptom of a more serious problem. Such as parvovirus, respiratory problems, and anemia. 

Signs of lethargy in dogs include:

  • Vomiting.
  • Red eyes.
  • Being slow.
  • Feeling groggy.
  • Excessively tired.
  • Rough or dry coat.
  • Doesn’t react to stimulation.
  • Uninterested in normal activities.

#11: Osteoarthritis 

Another condition that can cause groaning and grunting in dogs is osteoarthritis. 

In which case the groans and grunts will be due to the pain of hugging. 

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a condition that deteriorates the joints of a dog. It causes: 

  • Pain. 
  • Stiffness.
  • Lameness.

OA often occurs in senior dogs. But experts say that regardless of age, 20% of all dogs are affected by this condition.

As a result, dogs will be in pain when you touch them. Especially when you hug them. You might be pressing the painful spots on their body. That could bring pain to their joints and muscles.

Common signs of arthritis in dogs are:

  • Biting.
  • Licking.
  • Limping.
  • Irritability.
  • Chewing.
  • Reluctance to move. 
  • Yelping when touched.
  • A sudden change in behavior.

#12: Respiratory problems 

Grunting and groaning may be due to your dog’s respiratory problems. 

Your dog might exhibit these grunts and groans even without hugging them. It could happen that you only heard them when you got closer to your pooch. 

Fido might have respiratory problems if they grunt or groan together with their breathing.

Some of the respiratory problems in dogs that cause them to grunt are…

Paroxysmal respiration 

A.k.a reverse sneezing. This will cause your dog’s grunt to sound like a pig’s. This occurs when a dog’s throat muscles tighten and the soft palate is damaged.

Although it looks scary, it’s harmless.

Your dog might breathe in too much air and that causes your dog’s grunt. 

Trachea injury

Does your dog wear a collar often?

If so, that could also be the cause of their grunting and groaning noises. 

Let’s say you put your dog on a leash when walking outside. It’s a normal scenario if they run all of a sudden. Especially when they’re excited. 

Someone who holds the collar is often unprepared for it. And that causes a dog’s collar to put sudden pressure on their neck. 

What’s bad about this is it can lead to a trachea injury. This happens when a dog’s trachea or airways collapse. It’ll cause a dog to have trouble breathing. 

Signs of trachea injury in dogs are:

  • Snoring.
  • Coughing. 
  • Producing low noises.

#13: Your dog has stomach problems

Your dog grunts and groans when you hug them might be due to abdominal problems. One of these is…


Gastroenteritis is a condition where inflammation occurs in the intestines and the stomach of a dog.

Symptoms of gastrointestinal issues are:

  • Bloating.
  • Swellings.
  • Dehydration.
  • Abdominal pain.
  • Stomach tenderness.

Grunting and groaning will be a dog’s cry for help in this case. If you notice any of the above-mentioned symptoms, head to the vet.