New research shows hugs may give dogs anxiety. 10 things to try instead.

So it turns out, dogs kind of hate hugs.

You may be thinking: "Not my dog! She loves our tender embraces."


But odds are, your pup is not nearly as happy about them as you are.

After watching students interact with dogs at a "Doggy De-Stress" event, psychologist and dog expert Dr. Stanley Coren decided to look into research on human/dog hugs.

Despite how often humans hug dogs, there was little research as to whether the animals actually enjoyed it. So Coren grabbed a couple hundred images of humans hugging dogs off the internet and looked for signs of stress (things like lowered ears, lip-licking, turning their heads away from the source of stress, and more). It's not exactly a perfect science, but Coren's methods revealed some interesting findings.

A pug gets a hug from its owner at a Halloween parade. Photo by istoletheTV/Flickr.

In 81% of the photographs, the dogs appeared to show at least one sign of discomfort or anxiety. Around 7% appeared comfortable, and the remaining dogs had ambiguous or neutral responses.

So knowing what we know now, here are 10 simple (and a few slightly silly) ways to show your furry friend how much you care, without trapping them in a serious stress-fest.

1. Take your dog on the adventure of a lifetime ... or just a walk.

Taking your dog for frequent walks can promote a healthy digestive system, keep their weight under control, prevent hyperactive behavior, and fosters a strong bond between the two of you.

2. Welcome them home sweet home.

The best way to show a dog you care is to make sure it has a safe, loving home. Even if you don't have the time or resources to be a pet parent, you can support the dogs in your community by volunteering or donating supplies to a local rescue.

These strays picked up by an animal shelter await forever homes. Photo by Andrej Isakovic/AFP/Getty Images.

3. Listen to "Lemonade" with them.

The music of Beyoncé is the greatest gift you can give a human, plant, or animal. Nothing says, "I love you" like inviting your friends, (furry and otherwise) to get in formation.

GIF from Beyoncé's "Formation."

4. Teach your old dog (or young dog) some new tricks.

Learning new tricks and skills can provide a dog with much needed mental stimulation. Depending on the trick, it can improve their physical stamina as well. And knowing how to "shake hands" or "play dead" may prove useful when care providers like the groomer or the vet need to assess your pet.

Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images.

5. Give them a j-o-b.

For some dogs, learning tricks isn't enough, and they need the thrill and challenge of a K-9-to-5. Whether it's chasing sheep, fielding golf balls, sniffing out cancer, or cheering up residents at a hospital or nursing facility, every pup deserves the positive feeling that comes from a hard day's work.

A South Korean girl holds her trainee guide dog during International Guide Dog Day. Photo by Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images.

6. Roll down the windows and roll through town.

Some dogs love the wind in their face and plenty of things to see and bark at from the comfort of the backseat. Bonus points if you avoid the route to the vet.

Photo by Daniel Ramirez/Flickr.

7. Be their wing-human at the dog park.

The dog park is a great place for your dog to expend some energy, smell all the smells, and play with a bunch of new friends. These interactions allow your dog to practice reading dog social cues and body language, a useful skill that could protect them from aggressive animals.

You don't see much of this at the dog park, but maybe you'll get lucky.

8. Be the bearer of belly rubs.

While hugs may make your dog a little nervous, belly rubs could have the opposite effect. When a dog is comfortable with the way they're being touched, they may roll on their bellies as a submissive display and to increase belly access. If you're meeting a dog for the first time, just make sure to watch for signs of stress, even during a belly-rubbing sesh.

Photo by Jen Arbo/Flickr.

9. Write them an impassioned letter telling them how much you care.

They can't read, but they'll appreciate the effort. Especially if your paper goods smell like treats.

GIF from "Adventure Time."

10. Better yet, just give your dog some treats.

Belly rubs, walks, tricks ... it's all just a long con for the thing your dog wants most: treats. Don't be stingy. After all, he's your best friend.

And after all of those potentially stressful hugs, you kind of owe him one.

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Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

RELATED: This fascinating comic explains why we shouldn't use some Native American designs.

Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

Frozen II features Indigenous culture much more directly, and even addressed the issue of Indigenous erasure. Filmmakers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, along with producer Peter Del Vecho, consulted with experts on how to do that respectfully—the experts, of course, being the Sámi people themselves.

Sámi leaders met with Disney producer Peter Del Vecho in September 2019.Sámediggi Sametinget/Flickr

The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

RELATED: This aboriginal Australian used kindness and tea to trump the racism he overheard.

Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

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