I read an article a while back which announced with solemnity and more than a few pie charts, that dogs — our dogs, your dogs, pet dogs — don’t like being hugged. Not merely do they not like being hugged and display measurable levels of stress when hugged, but they really totally hate being kissed and nuzzled.

The article suggests a pat on the head … and a treat … would be much more appreciated. But, not by Garry or me.

Garry, Bonnie, and Gibbs – A moment of zen


I know they don’t like being hugged. It’s obvious. They stiffen and put their ears back when we hug them. They also don’t like it when I grab their tail and refuse to let go.

That’s what all the growling and head butting are about. You can almost hear them sigh, wondering when you’ll be through with this nonsense and get on to the important stuff, namely distributing cookies.

Photo: Garry Armstrong – Duke and Gibbs


I told Garry about the study. He said: “Tough. They’ll just have to cope. Because I like it.” My thoughts exactly.

Our dogs are disrespectful. Messy. Flagrantly disobedient. They are masters and mistresses of selective hearing. Do I believe for a single moment when we tell them to go out and they stand there, in front of the doggy door, ignoring us, it’s because they don’t understand what we want from them, or cannot hear us?

What does Duke dream about?

I’m supposed to think if I stand in the doorway calling them, that they can’t hear me? Or don’t know I want them to come in? Of course, they hear me. They know. They’re just playing us.

From the other side of the yard, they can hear the click when we remove the cover of the biscuit container. Their hearing is fine. It’s a power play.


Since they persist in disrespecting us, they will have to deal with our periodic compulsion to give them hugs, nuzzling, and the occasional (“Yuck! Stop that stupid human!”) kiss on their big black noses. Personally, I think it’s a small price to pay for unlimited sofa lounging, high-quality treats, and silly humans getting down on the floor to play. Not to mention the toys and the balls and those expensive trips to the vet.

We put up with them? They will have to put up with us, too. That’s our deal.

It’s the Human-Canine Covenant. We’ve got their paw prints on file.

15 thoughts on “THE HUMAN-CANINE COVENANT IS MORE THAN COOKIES – Marilyn Armstrong

  1. Goodness, that sounds just like our two cats! I wonder if they’ve done a similar study on cats – if they did I reckon ours would come out just like your canine friends. But our attitude is the same – they’ll just have to cope with being cuddled, because we like it… they seem to manage. 🙂


    • Some cats LOVE being hugged. I’d say, from the many many cats I’ve owned, about a quarter of them are huggers. The rest still like to snuggle in your lap or better yet, on your newspaper or book or computer. And then there are the rest who like to watch, but don’t like being touched. And if you get a few kittens from one litter, they will all be different. I don’t think it’s genetic. Just personal.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s right, cats are all very different and very individual people. I’ve spent my life with cats. We used to rescue cats and rehome them when I was a kid, and at one point we had 11. They were all different. Five of them stayed with us for life and just as you say, some were huggers, some lap cats, some more aloof but loved some fuss when it suited them. The one thing I have learned is that cats own you on their own terms. And I love them for it. 🙂 ❤


  2. Trouble with those dog treats is that I think they have a lot of sugar in them. My daughter just took her dog in for dental surgery and it cost a small fortune. There has to be a better treat for them.


    • None of the ones I give them have ANY sugar in them. It’s just NOT brushing their teeth. ALSO, little dogs have much worse problems than big dogs because to make them little, they’ve been “bred down” and there isn’t enough room for their teeth.

      We are using some kind of cleanser in their water and a spray for Bonnie who has the worst breath and the MOST runs of tooth repair and of course is the smallest of our three dogs. Duke is still fine, but he has a normal set of jaws, as does Gibbs (he has BIG jaws).

      Our littlest dogs, though, all had serious tooth issues from very young. I know we are supposed to brush their teeth, but if we think hugging is an issue, try tooth brushing. That’s for people with a stronger constitution than I’ve got. We try to NEVER give them sweet things or lots of pasta or things that become sugar when they absorb them. Their bodies — teeth and digestion — aren’t designed for sweets.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh what bulls…. of course they love it. I mean I also wouldn’t choose at all times to be licked in the face and everywhere else after their stinky mouth dug into some dirt or just finished an extensive wash of their intimate parts. Do we complain? Come on….. 😉
    And you are right on everything. Selective hearing and gentle ignoring are their chosen vocabulary…. rattle a biscuit tin in the cellar and they sit at the door, call them in when you want to leave and they are deaf. Do we love them any less!!!!! Naaah


  4. I read that article too but while it may be true for some dogs others not only like it but they hug back. Tammy, our first dog was a hugger. She would often put her paws around me. I will never forget how, when we came home after 9 weeks overseas she greeted me putting her paws around my neck and holding on tight for a few minutes as a child would.
    Cindy is also a hugger and does the same sort of thing. She has much longer legs so it really does feel like a hug. I know she likes to be held even though she’s a bigger dog.


    • Terriers are not huggers. Duke is a snuggler, but not a hugger. But I have had some huggy dogs. They always wanted a followup cookie, however. They want to be rewarded. Actually, they think rewards should be ongoing and more or less constant, starting around 6 am and continuing until I turn out the lights.

      Liked by 1 person

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