Some kids love to be cuddled, they hold you tight and feel comfortable. Then there are kids who resent being touched, they shirk, especially the touch. Likewise there are dogs that want to be cuddled always and there are the growling ones who do not want to be cuddled beyond a point.
Well the idea here is not to compare the kids and the pooches but to find out why some pooches love to be cuddled and others don’t. It is also important to understand whether to encourage the habit or discourage the dog?
Being pack animals, cuddling comes to dogs naturally. They enjoy to be huddled together and cuddle between the legs of their sleeping dam. They feel safe and secure in this posture, apart from getting the required body warmth. The dam on the other hand also derives a satisfaction form the fact that her brood is with her. The first three initial weeks of a pup’s life are spent like this only. Thereafter the pup starts recognizing the surroundings and starts exploration. During this exploratory phase the pup starts showing its colors. Some love to remain bodily close together with each other and also with the dam if she is around, while some want to explore on their own.
Once they grow up as adults, I find the ones that had remained huddled together and enjoyed each others body touch are the ones that wish to be cuddled a lot. Perhaps they have a feeling of insecurity in them throughout! Whereas those who explored the surroundings on their own try to be independent as an adult too and do like to be petted but do not really enjoy being cuddled.
Some owners complain that the habit of cuddling is so much that the dog never leaves the lap of their spouse or child and does not sleep in his/her own place, but wants to sleep with the people. Petting a dog is fine, occasional cuddling too is okay, but to carry the dog like a child and also make him share the same bed as that of the owner is no good dog keeping in my opinion.
It is agreed that the dogs are the man’s oldest companions and most faithful friends etc. They are loveable and crave fir human affection. All these facts are acceptable and accepted. But there is fact which makes them slightly different. That is in the ladder of evolution they are at a much lower position than their master, the man. As such their way of life is different than ours. For example in our life style we do not walk barefoot on the road, never touch, sniff and feel with our fingers any object lying on the road or in the dirt. Licking such an object is unthinkable of in our way of life. But to a dog this is a routine. Therefore cuddling a dog beyond a safe limit may help the viruses and bacteria he carries to be transmitted to you or your children. But since dogs do need some amount of physical touch, therefore you must pet your dog as and when required.
Another factor which goes against cuddling is that unlike their human masters, dogs are quadrupeds. That is, when they stand up first time in life they stand on all four legs. A human baby on the other hand remains in supine position for a long time. Around 12 months age our babies start getting up on their legs. Yet it takes them several months more to be freely up and about. They need to remain in the lap of the mother for quite some time. If you attempt to make a human baby stand up at the age of four or five months, you might end up damaging his legs. Similarly a dog puppy of that age will be ruined for life he is cuddled all the time. He needs to stand up on all the fours by then and run about.
Dogs often cuddle for security. Therefore if the bedding provided to him is of such a type in which he just embeds himself and walls reach up to touch him, he feels very secure. Now a days such beds are commercially available too. If you have already trained your puppy not to ‘dig and devour’ things you can yourself make such a bed of foam for him. All you need is a wide, shallow bamboo or cane basket of appropriate size. Pad it well with foam on sides and leave a depression of appropriate size with a pad of foam at the base for the dog to comfortably snuggle in. Cover this up with bright color / printed soft cloth to make it look attractive. Encourage the pup to sleep in the bed, give him lots of toys to play with. Yes like your daughter they too love a few ‘teddies’ around.
Instead of the pup or the adult dog cuddling against the human owners he should be encouraged to cuddle in his bed against his toys. This keeps off the feeling of insecurity from his mind for some time at least and also teaches him the good habit of not climbing on to your lap or bed.
Some dogs are so fond of cuddling that they do not spare even the visitors at home. They just climb on to the visitor’s lap irrespective of the fact whether he/she likes that or not. The larger breeds often snuggle against the visitor and try to lift his/her hand to pet them and caress him. Often this leads to an embarrassing situation when the helpless owner tries to coax the growling brute away and miserably fails. Next time the dog is locked before welcoming the visitor inside the house. Dog whines and scratches constantly at the door, some of them even bark incessantly or even howl and the owner gets more embarrassed.
All such problems can be obviated if the owner can spend just 15 minutes with the dog everyday from the very beginning. Teach your dog to stay and he gradually accepts that as the fate accompli and when he is asked to stay in his bed or in a room, away from the visitor he stays there, because at the end of the ordeal he knows he will be rewarded.
In brief cuddling should not be discouraged completely, but you should be able to draw a line about how much is enough. Secondly dog should understand that cuddling him is the privilege of the owners only and as explained if he wants every visitor to cuddle with him, such a pooch should be made to stay away.
Some breeds like miniature pincher, dachshund, pug, lhasa apso etc are small enough to cuddle in your lap. One does get tempted to hold them for hours. This temptation should be checked, for there may be a day when you may not be in a condition to cuddle the dog, while he will pine for your lap.