You probably shouldn't hug your dogs, regardless of how adorable they are

Dogs are adorable and friendly. Your dog is probably a member of your family — not just your pet.

I certainly sympathize.

My dog Goodwin, seen above surveying Brooklyn, sleeps in the same bed I do. He goes on vacation with my wife and me. He gets Christmas presents. He's a member of the family.

And that means he gets hugged. If I'm being honest, he gets hugged every single day. And though it seems as if he's OK with it — happy to be hugged, even! — it's entirely possible he's not such a fan.

"A lot of dog professionals would agree that hugging a dog is nonideal," dog-cognition scientist Dr. Alexandra Horowitz told me in an interview earlier this year. "I've never seen a dog who — when you hug them — they stand up and wag their tail and they're so excited. They do something else. They deal with it, you know?"

Related: Smartest dog breeds:

26 PHOTOS
25 of the smartest dog breeds
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25 of the smartest dog breeds

BORDER COLLIE

According to Coren, these dogs are able to learn a new command in under five seconds and follow it at least 95 percent of the time.

POODLE

Second place on Coren’s list of smartest pups, these beauties are also great family dogs and hypoallergenic.

GERMAN SHEPHERD

There’s a reason why these guys make great crime-fighting pals—they’re obedient and alert (and handsome, too).

GOLDEN RETRIEVER

The ultimate family-friendly dog, these pooches are loyal, whip smart and very patient.

DOBERMAN PINSCHER

Playful and fun-loving, this breed is easy to train and fiercely loyal.

SHETLAND SHEEPDOG

Hey, only a highly intelligent breed would be able to raise a pig. (If you don’t get this Babereference, please go rent the movie immediately.)

LABRADOR RETRIEVER

The most popular dog breed in America is also one of the smartest. Great with families, these guys are loving and loyal.

PAPILLON

Named after the French word for “butterfly” (just look at those sweet, pointed ears), this toy breed is intelligent, energetic and friendly.

ROTTWEILER

Fans of children’s book Good Dog, Carl won’t be surprised to discover that rotties are fearless, devoted and confident. (And also very obedient, according to Coren.)

AUSTRALIAN CATTLE DOG

No wonder these canines are such excellent work dogs. But even without cows to herd, this breed makes great companions thanks to their obedience, loyalty and protective nature.

PEMBROKE WELSH CORGI

We wouldn’t expect anything less from Her Majesty’s favorite breed.

MINIATURE SCHNAUZER

Full of energy, these friendly pups are fast learners and sociable (and they have the best mustaches).

ENGLISH SPRINGER SPANIEL

Affectionate, athletic and attentive, these tail-waggers were bred as hunting dogs.

BELGIAN TERVUREN

Ideal watchdogs, these pooches are highly trainable and have boundless energy.

SCHIPPERKE

From the Belgian region of Flanders, this breed is curious, confident and clever. (Although these small pups definitely think they’re bigger than they are.)

BELGIAN SHEEPDOG

Those Belgians really know a thing or two about smart pooches, don’t they?

COLLIE

Well, duh—have you never seen Lassie before?

KEESHOND

Outgoing and playful, this sturdy breed is known for the markings around their eyes that looks like glasses.

GERMAN SHORTHAIRED POINTER

Cooperative and trainable, these pups are popular hunting dogs so they need plenty of exercise.

FLAT-COATED RETRIEVER

Great with kids, this friendly breed is also a popular therapy dog.

ENGLISH COCKER SPANIEL

With their soft and luxurious coat, these guys love being friendly with kids, adults and even other pups. 

STANDARD SCHNAUZER

Devoted, loving and playful, these guys are also hypoallergenic.

BRITTANY

Known as sensitive souls who are very clever and attentive.

COCKER SPANIEL

Thanks to a certain fictional female dog, the cocker spaniel has a lot to live up to.

NOVA SCOTIA DUCK TOLLING RETRIEVER

If you’re looking for a dog that loves to play fetch, then look no further than this smarty-pants.

RELATED: 7 REASONS IT’S ACTUALLY BETTER TO LET YOUR DOG SLEEP IN YOUR BED

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The question of dog hugs has come up a lot in the past. Headlines fought for both sides of the argument:

So, what's going on?

This all started with a weekly column in Psychology Today, called "Canine Corner," by Dr. Stanley Coren. It wasn't based on a study or a new set of evidence — it was, as Coren described it to The Washington Post, "a set of casual observations." Coren has a long history in dog science and psychology: He has written books on the subject, and he continues to write a weekly column for Psychology Today that is focused on dogs.

That said, as Coren himself points out, the column was based on observations and wasn't intended to have the same impact as a peer-reviewed study — the bare minimum for scientific evidence.

So, should you hug your dog? Even without a conclusive study, the answer continues to be probably not.

"The reason we say they don't like being hugged is because of what they look like when you're hugging them," Horowitz told me. "They pin their ears back, they lick their lips (sort of air licking). Or they yawn, which is another stress behavior. Or they move to get away. Or they show this kind of whale-eye posture — you can see the whites of their eyes. They show behavior that's like, 'This is uncomfortable.'"

Related: Popular dog breeds 

21 PHOTOS
Most Popular Dog Names of 2016
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Most Popular Dog Names of 2016
Top 10 Male Dog Names

10. Tucker (new!)

Source: Rover.com 

Evan Kafka via Getty Images

Top 10 Male Dog Names

9. Toby

Source: Rover.com 

Cheryl Ertelt via Getty Images

Top 10 Male Dog Names

8. Duke

Source: Rover.com 

Lava via Getty Images

Top 10 Male Dog Names

7. Bear

Source: Rover.com 

Cheryl Maeder via Getty Images

Top 10 Male Dog Names

6. Rocky

Source: Rover.com 

Ken Gillespie Photography via Getty Images

Top 10 Male Dog Names

5. Jack*

Source: Rover.com 

* = top baby name of 2016

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Top 10 Male Dog Names

4. Cooper

Source: Rover.com 

martin-dm via Getty Images

Top 10 Male Dog Names

3. Buddy

Source: Rover.com 

JGI/Jamie Grill via Getty Images

Top 10 Male Dog Names

2. Charlie*

Source: Rover.com 

* = top baby name of 2016

Hero Images via Getty Images

Top 10 Male Dog Names

1. Max*

Source: Rover.com 

* = top baby name of 2016

Tetra Images - Maisie Paterson via Getty Images


 

Top 10 Female Dog Names

10. Maggie

Source: Rover.com 

Pekic via Getty Images

Top 10 Female Dog Names

9. Bailey (new!)

Source: Rover.com 

Paul Park via Getty Images

Top 10 Female Dog Names

8. Sophie*

Source: Rover.com 

* = top baby name of 2016

Andrew Hutchinson via Getty Images

Top 10 Female Dog Names

7. Sadie*

Source: Rover.com 

* = top baby name of 2016

Digital Vision. via Getty Images

Top 10 Female Dog Names

6. Molly

Source: Rover.com 

Visuals Unlimited, Inc./Robert Pickett via Getty Images

Top 10 Female Dog Names

5. Luna*

Source: Rover.com 

* = top baby name of 2016

Martin Ruegner via Getty Images

Top 10 Female Dog Names

4. Lola

Source: Rover.com 

Holly Hildreth via Getty Images

Top 10 Female Dog Names

3. Daisy

Source: Rover.com 

Jean Louis Aubert via Getty Images

Top 10 Female Dog Names

2. Lucy*

Source: Rover.com 

* = top baby name of 2016

Steven Puetzer via Getty Images

Top 10 Female Dog Names

1. Bella*

Source: Rover.com 

* = top baby name of 2016

Fotosearch via Getty Images

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Or, as Horowitz succinctly put it, dogs are dealing with it.

So, as adult humans, we can limit our own impulse to hug dogs. Impulse control, however, is much harder when you're an infant.

"Children like to give dogs hugs, and some dogs do not deal with it," Horowitz said. That's where problems can happen, like a normally calm dog attacking a child.

"The child is right at dog-face level, and they could get a real bad injury by the dog snapping — a perfectly good dog," Horowitz added. "There's nothing wrong with the dog. You've done something they don't like. You're right there. They're growling. You're not listening. And they snap at you. And that could really injure a child."

That's just common sense, of course — you don't need to be an accomplished dog-cognition researcher like Horowitz to realize that children should be taught limits when it comes to the family dog (or cat, or bird, or whatever). And when it comes to hugs, however hard it is to resist, limitations may be necessary.

Or, as Horowitz puts it: "We assume because it shows our love that the dog feels our love, but I think in that case we're probably wrong."

NOW WATCH: One of the best things you can do for your dog is brush its teeth — here’s why

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SEE ALSO: 7 weird dog behaviors and what they mean

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