Cuddling with our pups is one of our favorite activities as pet parents, and even though it seems like a human behavior, dogs seem to enjoy it as much as we do. But, why do dogs like to cuddle?
Dogs: The history behind cuddling
The history between dogs and cuddling dates from long ago. Dogs descend from wolves, who have a pack mentality, so cuddling is a very basic and ancient instinct carried with them. They do it to get warm, to create a bond, and because it releases hormones that make them feel good. In addition, puppies cuddle with their mothers as a way of bonding and showing subordination.
Why do dogs like to cuddle with humans?
Cuddling between dogs and humans plays an important role in dog domestication. In ancient years, dogs used to help humans hunt during the day, but they would also cuddle up at night in order to feel warm. Actually, the term ‘three dog night’, refers to a very cold night and has its roots in cuddling. When there was an utterly cold night, humans used to cuddle with three dogs to stay warm. On the other hand, dogs who were able to bond with humans were also the ones who received love and protection, so it was basically a win-win relationship.
Just as it happens with dog packs, both humans and dogs significantly increase oxytocin levels (a.k.a. the love hormone) while sleeping together. So, why do dogs like to cuddle? Simple, when a dog lies with you, he is not only looking for warmth: he’s showing you his complete trust, confidence, and love.
Actually, researchers have recently discovered that cuddling is more important for dogs than for any other animal. Naturally, some dogs are more prone than others to sleep together with their owners, but this might have to do with their owners' habits and the personality traits of their breed.
Cuddling with a dog: what should I take into account?
Before cuddling with your dog, there are certain things you should consider:
Pet your pup while you give him gentle scratches. Cuddling might be a lot more pleasant if it comes together with relaxing massages and soothing rubbings. Belly, face, or paws: Find that specific area where your pup enjoys being scratched and make him happy.
Focus on your dog’s body language. No two dogs are the same, hence, while some dogs might find cuddling reassuring and relaxing, some dogs might find it a bit annoying. It’s important to get acquainted with your dog’s body language, to assess if he is enjoying the cuddle sesh or if he is getting uncomfortable. Pay special attention if he grunts, or if he docks away when you try to pet him.
- Let your dog decide when cuddle time is over. Even though we would probably stay in that position for hours, dogs might call it a night a lot sooner than us. If your dog decides he has had enough, that is the end of snuggling time. If forced to cuddle, dogs can get annoyed and even aggressive, so always respect their time and space.
5 cuddliest dog breeds
Some dogs were pretty much born to cuddle. These breeds are affectionate, sweet, and gentle, and they would probably love to spend hours on your lap.
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
- Golden Retrievers
- French Bulldogs
5 dogs who usually don’t like to cuddle
Even though dogs have a pack mentality, there are some breeds that are way more independent than others, and who usually don’t enjoy cuddling for long periods.
- American Foxhound