Do Golden Retrievers Like To Be Hugged? [7 Things You Need To Know!]

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It’s a question that is often asked by new or soon-to-be Golden Retriever owners, “Do Golden Retrievers Like To Be Hugged?”

Hugging one another is a human gesture of affection. Naturally, you want to show your affection towards your Golden Retriever by hugging them.

Dogs in general do not like being hugged. But, anyone who owns a Golden Retriever knows that this breed is very loving and affectionate, and would likely enjoy being hugged, right?

Keep reading to find out the answer to this commonly asked question.

Do Golden Retrievers Like To Be Hugged?

Golden Retrievers do not like being hugged. Giving a big bear hug to your Golden Retriever can make them feel stressed and anxious. Hugging is not a natural form of affection for dogs and can be interpreted as a form of aggression, dominance and a violation of physical space. However, this breed is known to be very loving and affectionate, and would likely TOLERATE being hugged by their owners more than any other breed. Try giving your Golden some belly rubs and ear scratches to show your affection instead!

1. Hugging Your Golden Retriever May Cause Stress & Anxiety

Do Golden Retrievers Like To Be Hugged - A man hugging a Golden Retriever puppy.

I am certain that you have already hugged your Golden Retriever. I mean how could you resist? All of that cute and cuddly adorable fluff that is your Golden Retriever!

I’m guilty of it too! I have hugged my Golden Retriever, and continue to do so. My Golden has learned to tolerate hugs.

But, what makes you happy and feeling loved is not exactly the same for your dog.

Giving your Golden Retriever a big warm embrace may actually be stressing them out and causing anxiety.

Here’s how your Golden Retriever interprets a hug:

  • Hugging makes your Golden feel trapped like they can’t escape.
  • Having your arms around them makes them feel confined.
  • Hugging is an unnatural feeling to them.
  • They feel overpowered.
  • Hugging is a violation of their personal space.
  • Hugging is a move for dominance or aggression.

2. Signs That Your Golden Retriever Hates Being Hugged

While there are some Golden Retrievers that like being hugged, or should I say tolerate it, most of them hate it!

According to the American Kennel Club, dogs that are trained as therapy dogs tolerate being hugged. But the majority of dogs do not like this interaction.

Here is how you can tell if your Golden Retriever hates being hugged:

  • Their body becomes stiff and tense.
  • They tuck their tail, showing signs of being scared.
  • Your Golden tries to run away from the person trying to hug them.
  • They move their head away from you while being hugged.
  • Their eyes get bigger, and you can see the whites of their eyes. Also known as moon eyes.
  • Your Golden growls or tries to bite.
  • Shaking or trembling.

If you notice any of these signs which are related to fear and anxiety, it’s time to back off and stop hugging your dog.

3. Can I Train My Golden Retriever To Enjoy Being Hugged?

Training your Golden Retriever to enjoy being hugged is easier to do when they are a puppy. They tend to get used to this behaviour and learn to tolerate it. Some may even grow to enjoy being hugged.

However, you can train your adult Golden to enjoy being hugged as well.

As long as you start off slow and always use positive reinforcement, your Golden will get used to being hugged and may even enjoy it or at least tolerate it.

Here are the steps to take:

  • Have some treats on hand.
  • Start by sitting next to your dog who is sitting as well.
  • Place one hand on your dog’s back, and give a gentle rub. Reward with a treat.
  • Slowly move one arm around your dog.
  • Continue moving your arm around your dog, and reward with a treat.
  • Wrap both arms around your dog, essentially giving them a hug. Every time you move in closer to your dog, reward them with a treat.
  • Eventually, your dog will associate being hugged with something positive like getting treats.

Training your Golden to get used to being hugged can come in handy, especially when you need to hold your dog still at the vet’s office or at the groomer’s.

Keep in mind that your dog may tolerate being hugged by you, but will likely not tolerate any hugs from strangers.

4. Signs That Your Golden Retriever Enjoys Being Hugged

A man wearing a burgundy shirt hugging a Golden Retriever, who is looking happy.

Golden Retrievers will do pretty much anything for a treat, and that includes being hugged.

But, if you really want to know if your Golden actually enjoys the hug and not just the treat afterwards, here are some signs to look out for:

  • Your Golden’s body is relaxed.
  • Their mouth is open and they are panting calmly.
  • Their tail is wagging loose and relaxed.
  • They are leaning into you.
  • They put their paw on you.

5. Helpful Tips To Hug Your Golden Retriever The Right Way

If you really must hug your Golden Retriever, be sure to follow these tips:

  • Never approach your dog from behind. It can startle them.
  • Teach kids not to hug, especially if your Golden is not used to being hugged, or hates being hugged. Your Golden may bite out of fear.
  • Keep the hugs quick and short.
  • Always read your dog’s body language, to be sure if you should or shouldn’t hug your dog!
  • Never hug your dog if they absolutely hate it! Show your affection in another way.

6. Golden Retrievers Like To Cuddle, Rather Than Being Hugged

A woman petting a Golden Retriever.

Golden Retrievers love to be loved! The more love you give them, the more they will give you in return.

This breed is known to be very cuddly and affectionate. But cuddling should not be confused with being hugged.

They prefer to snuggle up next to you whether it’s on the couch or your bed, and some even go as far as laying on your lap.

When you’re feeling sick or sad, this breed just seems to sense that and lays next to you in hopes of cheering you up.

Cuddling makes both you and your Golden feel good. It strengthens your bond as well as releases the “love” hormone called oxytocin. This same hormone is released when you and your dog gaze into each other’s eyes.

So instead of wrapping your arms around your Golden Retriever in a hug, show your affection by spending quality time together.

Offer plenty of belly rubs, ear scratches, and do the things your Golden enjoys the most.

You will be rewarded with plenty of love in return!

This short video below explains the reasons why Golden’s are such cuddle bugs:

7. Golden Retrievers Have An Infinite Need To Be Touched

A Golden Retriever sitting in a boat while being petted by a man's hand.

One thing every Golden Retriever owner is aware of is how much their Golden loves to be petted! And I mean petted constantly!

Just stop petting your Golden Retriever for a minute, and I can guarantee that your Golden will paw at you. This is your Golden’s way of telling you to keep petting them, and how dare you stop! Lol!

This breed loves to be touched. Petting them, rubbing their ears, butt scratches and belly rubs seem to be what they demand and love the most.

You may give in and decide to go in for a hug, but that’s not what your Golden is asking for. Affection in the form of petting is what they are really after.

Final Thoughts

As hard as it is to resist hugging your sweet Golden Retriever, it is probably for the best. Golden Retrievers really don’t enjoy being hugged. Some may tolerate it because they have a close bond with you, but the majority hate it.

You can train your Golden to get used to being hugged, but why not show your affection in other ways. Belly rubs, ear scratches, and spending time with you is what your Golden really wants!

Does your Golden Retriever enjoy being hugged? Can you resist hugging your Golden Retriever? Perhaps you have a Golden Retriever that likes to give hugs.

Share your thoughts and comments below. I would love to hear from you!

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2 thoughts on “Do Golden Retrievers Like To Be Hugged? [7 Things You Need To Know!]”

  1. I have a mixed breed dog, I believe he is Pit/Dalmation but he likes getting hugs. It’s cute the way he will come up to us, while he is standing on the bed, and he’ll put his head on our shoulder and kind of hook it around our neck. I do find it interesting Golden Retrievers don’t like hugs because they are such loving dogs. Interesting article.

    • Hi Siobhan,

      Thanks for sharing your experience.  It sounds like your dog really enjoys giving hugs to you, that means he loves you and has a great bond with you.  

      All dogs are individuals with their own unique personalities.  That being said, not all Golden Retrievers are cuddly and enjoy being hugged.  Some Goldens enjoy being hugged and cuddled by their owners, and some don’t care for it.  In my experience, I have found that male Golden Retrievers seem to be more cuddly than females.  My female doesn’t snuggle or enjoy being hugged, she would rather be petted and have all the attention on her.



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