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Home > Dogs > How to Teach Your Dog to Hug – 4 Tips and Tricks

How to Teach Your Dog to Hug: 4 Tips & Tricks

woman hugging her dog on the beach

Dogs are man’s best friend, and what could be better than getting a hug from your best friend? Dogs are amazing animals that provide us humans with unconditional love, and one way to show love is through hugging. Hugging your dog will also help create a strong bond between you and your pup.

Some dogs love to hug, while others may view it as an invasion of their personal space. For dogs that will allow it, teaching your dog to hug you can be a stress reliever, and in this guide, we’ll list 4 simple ways to teach your dog to hug.

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The 4 Tips & Tricks to Teach Your Dog to Hug You

Before You Start

Not all dogs like hugs, and you must be aware of your dog’s temperament before you start. For unaffectionate dogs, you’ll probably want to refrain from teaching this trick, as you don’t want your dog to be uncomfortable and go into defense mode. Trying to hug your dog may frighten it because your dog may feel trapped, which may result in aggression. However, you know your dog best, and if your dog is affectionate, you should be ok to give it a try.

woman hugging dog
Image Credit By: Christin Lola, Shutterstock

1. Have Your Dog Sit

Most dogs can accomplish sitting fairly easily. Odds are, your dog already knows this trick, so we’ll skip ahead. In this initial step, have your dog sit in front of you as you kneel in front of your dog, but don’t reward them with a treat just yet. Let your dog know you have a treat in your hand for motivation, such as showing the treat in your hand and then placing your hand behind your neck. For those who have not trained their dog to sit, you can follow these steps.

2. Guide your Dog’s Paws

While your dog is in the sitting position, carefully lift both paws and place them on your shoulders. Once the paws are on your shoulders, say “hug.” We want to note that you should avoid this if your dog is a senior or has some medical condition that may cause pain with this step. Also, medium to large-sized dogs will do better with this step than smaller breeds, which we’ll get into later. Once again, do not provide a treat just yet.

Dog hugging owner
Image Credit: Bogdan Sonjachnyj, Shutetrstock

3. Praise Your Dog

After your dog has given you a hug, say “ok” or “up,” or whatever cue you think your dog will respond to. You can help your dog get back to its feet and stance if need be. After your dog is off you, give a treat along with praise. Reward and praise are essential in this step, as it will teach your dog they have done something that pleases you.

4. Repeat

Teaching a dog new tricks takes time and patience, but with persistence, your dog will be giving out hugs in no time. The key is to repeat the steps over and over until your dog is comfortable and knows what’s expected.


How Can I Teach My Small Dog to Hug?

In order to teach your dog to hug, you need to get down to their level so that you’re face to face. For small dogs, this can be accomplished by sitting on the couch or some other object. Once you’re at eye level, repeat the steps mentioned above.

How to Know Your Dog Doesn’t Like Hugs

As we’ve mentioned, not all dogs like hugs, and it’s imperative to know if your dog will be down with it or not. Certain signs to watch for include your dog turning its head away from you, flattened ears, raising a paw, lip licking, yawning, and the most serious, showing teeth.

elderly woman hugging a Vizsla puppy
Image Credit: Henriet Haan, Pixabay

What Dog Breeds Enjoy Hugs the Most?

Some dogs are naturally more affectionate than others and will more than likely enjoy hugs. Affectionate dog breeds are Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever, Great Dane, Beagle, English Bulldog, Boxer, Newfoundland, Rottweiler, Pug, Bichon Frise, Greyhound, and Jack Russell Terriers.



Remember that not all dogs enjoy hugs. Some may take it as a threat and get defensive, which could result in a bite. You know your dog the best, and you’ll need to use your best judgment before teaching your dog to hug. Every dog is different with its own unique personality—some will like hugs, and others will not.

Never force your dog to hug you but rather ensure it’s an enjoyable activity for the both of you. Also, do not squeeze your dog too hard, and always supervise children around dogs, especially if they’re trying to hug the dog. You should always teach any child in your home to never approach a dog in this way, as it could turn into a dangerous situation.

Featured Image Credit: Shift Drive, Shutterstock

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