Want to know how to train your dog to give a hug? I can see why! It’s one of the most adorable tricks your dog can do. When an pooch puts his arms around you and wraps you in a warm doggy hug, it’s the perfect picture of puppy love. While something as involved as giving hugs might seem difficult to train your dog to do, it’s actually quite easy. Today we’re going to talk about how to teach your dog to give hugs. And a little later, we’ll talk about whether or not you should.
How to Train Your Dog to Give a Hug
Learning how to train your dog to give a hug actually starts with the sit command, which I’ve covered in other posts. The reason you want to start with sit is that your dog is firmly planted on the floor. When teaching your dog to give hugs, you DO NOT want a situation where you have a dog just tackling people. In a Shih Tzu or other small breed dog, the jumping and pawing might be cute, but if you have a Mastiff that’s been taught to give hugs incorrectly, you’re looking at a 4 legged linebacker take-down.
Step One: Sit
Kneel on the floor or sit in a chair and give your dog the sit command. Before you go any further than this, your dog should have a mastery of sit. Meaning that he’s not squirming or attempting to break the position or otherwise overly fidgety. It is imperative that you dog follow commands well to avoid any mishaps.
Step Two: “Hug”
If you dog is awesome at sit, then you’ll move on to teaching the actual hug command. In this case, giving hugs means putting a front paw on either shoulder. Place your dog’s paws on your shoulders and say, “Hug.” After you’ve place his paws and given the command, give him a treat.
Step Three: Release
Once you’ve completed step one and two, give your dog a release command to end the trick. It’s important to have a release command with any type of training A release command is what keeps tricks like giving hugs from turning into an unwanted tackle/paw situation.
Step Four: Repeat
Repeat the above steps no more than three times per session. Any more than that and your dog will lose interest or start to think you’re getting ready to wrestle.
Should You Train Your Dog to Give Hugs
Giving hugs is a trick best entered into with some thought. Is your dog an appropriate size to be putting his paws on people in such a way? Does your dog have the temperament for a trick like this? Do you have elderly friends and/or family? These are all questions that need to be asked before teaching your dog to give hugs.
If giving hugs is a trick you’ve been thinking about, consider your dog’s size. Of course, a little lap dog is going to be a hut when it’s time to give hugs. However, if you have a giant breed like a Mastiff or Great Dane, giving hugs might not be the best idea. The sheer size of these dogs could lead to them injuring someone even if they do the trick correctly.
Sometimes, dogs can hurt you with their joy and love. If your dog is one of those who can hardly contain himself in his quest to great new people and generally shower everyone with overly exuberant affection, giving hugs might not be a great idea. This is especially true if your dog is a giant breed like I mentioned above or a breed that carries a stigma about it like the Pit Bull. Although, Pits are excellent pooches, some people might freak out if it comes over and just plops its paws on them.
Closely related to temperament is ability. Is you dog ABLE to master a trick like giving hugs? By mastering, I mean can your dog give hugs and then break on command, or do you have the sort of dog that may be able to give hugs on command but immediately turns it into an unwanted cuddle session with your young child or aged grandmother?
Giving Hugs is a Cute Trick When Given Thought
Giving hugs is an adorable trick, and I’m a fan. As a long time dog lover and vet worker with absolutely zero fear of animals, I would not be bothered if a 200 English Mastiff tackled me with a hug, but not all people are so comfortable or physically able to handle such a thing. Before you make giving hugs a regular routine in your pets trick routine, consider if it’s appropriate to his size and temperament. If it is, the above method will help you teach giving hugs in no time.