KEY POINTS

  • It is always good to express appreciation and love for our animal companions
  • There are some pets that may get stressed if they're hugged
  • You can still celebrate the occasion even if your pets aren't comfortable with hugs

It's the perfect time to cuddle with pooches because April 10 marks National Hug Your Dog Day. But what can you do if your pet isn't exactly a hugger?

Pet-related holidays are always fun ways to express appreciation and love for our animal companions. On this day, the spotlight is on hugging pet dogs, which National Today explained releases the hormone oxytocin, also called the "cuddle hormone," in both humans and dogs.

Simply embracing your pet on National Hug Your Dog Day may let them feel your affection and even strengthen your bond.

However, people should also be careful in celebrating the day, Patt Veterinary Hospital said, as not all dogs, and even cats, like to be hugged. Your pets may not want to be hugged because it makes them feel constrained, hurt in some way or, they're simply not comfortable with hugs. Embracing a pet that doesn't want to be hugged may give them stress instead.

"Behaviorists believe that increasing the stress level of your cat or dog could raise their anxiety to the point where they scratch or bite," Patt Veterinary Hospital said. 

Some signs that your dog may not be a hugger include whining, avoiding eye contact, having slicked back ears and showing the whites of the eyes when you hug them. So those who notice these signs in their pets may want to avoid giving them a hug that may be overbearing for them even if your intention is merely to show your affection.

So what can people do if their dogs don't seem to want to be hugged on National Hug Your Dog Day? Let's look at a few suggestions. (Courtesy --National Today, Patt Veterinary Hospital)

Go for a walk

Perhaps one of the simplest ways to show dogs affection is to take them for a walk. After all, going on walks is more than just good exercise for them.

On this day, why not make the trip a bit longer, or take them to a route or dog park they're particularly fond of? Going for ice cream afterward is also not a bad idea.

Spend time together

Apart from going on a walk, you and your pet may also celebrate by spending some time together, even if it's as simple as lounging on the couch or playing with toys together. Perhaps you could bond over a dog-themed movie marathon and spend the day watching some famous dogs such as "Scooby Doo."

Other means of affection

You can show affection that may be more comfortable for them than hugging them. For instance, gentle pats on the head or belly rubs may also send them the affection you wish to convey.

"But just like with hugs, be aware of your pet's response to ensure they are comfortable," Patt Veterinary Hospital noted.

Give them a treat

Dogs love treats, so giving them an extra one today may also be a good way to celebrate the occasion. Keep in mind, though, that treats should be given in moderation. What's more, the treat can also be in the form of a new toy.

No matter how you and your dog celebrate, whether it's with a cozy hug or not, what's important is to let them know that they are loved and appreciated.

Pet Dog Pictured: Representative image of a person hugging a dog. Photo: Henriet Haan/Pixabay