NEW YORK (FOX 5 NEWS) - We love coddling our dogs. But how do they feel about our affection?
"She likes being hugged," said Susan Rogers of her Havanese Lucy.
While Lucy may tolerate her mom's hug, researchers say the truth is most dogs don't like a warm embrace.
"Basically we found 4 out of 5 dogs don't like being hugged," said Dr. Stanely Coren, a professor emeritus of psychology at the University of British Columbia.
In an article for Psychology Today, Coren argues that hugging our dogs gives them stress, not warm fuzzies. He did a Flickr and Google Image search of "dogs and hugs" and then analyzed 250 images of people embracing their four-legged friends.
He concluded 80 percent of the dogs exhibited signs of stress. Those signs included the dogs' ears flopping down, the whites of their eyes showing, or their heads turned away.
Dr. Richard Goldstein, the chief medical officer at the Animal Medical Center, said Coren's findings are accurate.
"They're signs of nervousness, a dog who is not sure of what is going to happen next, not sure of his or her surroundings, a dog who is getting ready to bolt," Goldstein said.
Still, a lot of us dog lovers weren't convinced, so we looked to our own dogs. We flipped through some pictures of Fox 5 staffers and their dogs with Drs. Coren and Goldstein and, sure enough, saw signs of stress.
While hugs won't hurt your dog, they have been linked to dog bites particularly in children who tend to hug dogs they don't know.
Coren says the message he wants to get across is don't stop loving your dog; just show your love in different ways. Petting the dog, giving him or her encouragement, and treats always work.