Why Do Dogs Like to Cuddle?
Most pet parents know that dogs love to cuddle (sorry, cat lovers). 95% of dog lovers agree that their dogs like to cuddle with them because it produces a calming effect, helps the dog to relax, and makes the dog feel safe.
So, why do dogs like to cuddle? Simply put, dogs initiate closeness because they feel safer and more secure near us.
We don't know for sure what goes on inside of a dog's mind, but they do feel a sense of security when cuddling with their favorite person.
You may wonder why dogs enjoy cuddling or what makes them want to sleep with us. There are several reasons for dog cuddling. In this article, we'll explore the top 10 reasons why most dogs like to cuddle with us.
1. They Like the Physical Touch of Their Favorite Person
Dogs need to be touched just like we do. Growing up together with us from puppyhood, they've probably developed a very intimate bond with us. Among other things, the touch of their favorite person is important to them; it makes them feel calmer and more secure.
Dogs were domesticated by humans for companionship. They bond with their favorite person(s) in much the same way that we do with our closest friends and family members—by being physically close.
Mother dogs groom their fur babies during the first few weeks of life, licking them to stimulate growth and keep them clean. Grooming can also be a bonding ritual between canines.
When we give our pet dogs affection and physical contact (even by something as simple as cuddling), we're showing them that we care about them and love them. This brings us closer together, which is why they like to reciprocate by cuddling.
By cuddling with their favorite person, dogs are showing affection and love in the way that they instinctively know how to do. Puppies snuggle with their mothers to show her their affection, so it's natural for them to desire physical contact to express love for their pet parents.
Dogs like to Cuddle Because It Provides Affection
When a dog cuddle is more than just warmth — it is a way to show love. Cuddling and expressing affection are ways our dogs build a stronger connection with us.
Scientists even discovered that dogs need more bonding than cats do (shocker!).
The long evolutionary relationships with dogs have reinforced some of the characteristics we now see in dogs today. It shows in our affections for one another, including cuddling together.
And cuddling is not just warmth. Researchers have found a bond with the owner is as important for dogs as for the owner.
There is an emotional link between humans and dogs. Researcher Gregory Berns' book, ”How Dogs Love Us”, argues that dogs cuddle after meals equate to a strong love between humans and dogs because this shows that your dog does not view you as just a feeding machine.
2. It's a Security Behavior
Your dog's behavior was established by nature to make dogs feel safe and comfortable around us. Mother dogs will cuddle with their young puppies, especially after nursing.
Pups will cuddle with their mother before and after sleeping to feel protected and safe. Since we're their mothers and father, they establish the same behavior with us; it's what makes them feel safe and sound.
Dogs feel safer and more secure when they're touching us. This is because we're bigger than they are, stronger, and can protect them if necessary.
It's how they've survived over the centuries. When they're close enough to touch us, they feel like we can protect them if they need it.
Dogs feel a sense of protection and security when they're cuddling with their pet parent because our smell changes during times of stress.
When we're stressed, we release a hormone called cortisol that the dog can smell, which makes them think that you're either angry or afraid.
This type of body language can usually be relieved by just a few minutes of belly rubs.
Dogs feel comforted by our smell when they're stressed, so they like to cuddle with us more during times of anxiety. They will also come up and lay on you if you've been away for a while.
When you return home, your dog knows by the way that you smell that everything is fine and will feel more secure once they're around you.
It's possible that dogs bond to us through the oxytocin released during cuddling as well as other hormones, such as endorphins and serotonin. It's also likely that they do it because this behavior was learned from their mother at a very young age.
This chemical comes from the pituitary gland in all mammals' brains, and since dogs are mammals, they also produce oxytocin.
Dogs release oxytocin during physical contact with their favorite person, which makes them calmer and more relaxed, both physically and emotionally.
The term for this is "love hormone," and most mammals release it when they cuddle with their favorite person or animal. Oxytocin has the same effect that morphine or heroin does in humans—it makes us feel relaxed and calm.
Oxytocin is released when we hug or cuddle with someone close to us. This positive hor reduces stress by calming the amygdala (the reactive part of our brain that makes us lash out) and it increases a sense of well-being because it's a very soothing chemical. They produce oxytocin which improves their overall health and mood during cuddle time.
Serotonin is another neurotransmitter that causes us to feel happy and content. Serotonin is also released in dogs during physical contact, especially touch. Physical contact with their favorite person makes them feel more secure, calm, and happy.
Serotonin is also released when you look into a dog's eyes; this makes them feel calmer and more relaxed in our presence, which is why they often want to look at us while we're cuddling with them.
Human dog interactions like eye contact and dog cuddling are a part of how early dogs became man's best friend. This long evolutionary relationship has been super cuddly since the beginning.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps dogs and humans process motivation and reward. Serotonin is responsible for helping the body create dopamine.
Serotonin may be released when your dog cuddles with you just as it does when they have eye contact with you, which helps them to feel good.
Serotonin also helps to reduce pain and stress in both humans and canines. Serotonin is released during physical contact; therefore, you may be feeling the same sensation as your dog when you cuddle them because serotonin is being released from your body as well.
Serotonin is a factor in anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and aggression in humans. Serotonin release is most likely the reason why dogs seem to be less anxious when they cuddle with us.
Endorphins are hormones that the body releases when it feels pain or stress. Similar to serotonin, they produce a sense of happiness and well-being in both dogs and humans. Cuddling produces endorphins, which make your dog feel calm and relaxed in a way similar to how they make us feel.
All of the hormones that are released—serotonin, endorphins, oxytocin—produce a sense of well-being in dogs just as they do in humans. As serotonin and endorphins are released during cuddling with us, our dogs begin to feel safe and secure.
This positive hormonal response is one of the main reasons many dogs choose to cuddle with their favorite person or other pets; the feeling of safety and security that comes along with it is priceless to them.
Dogs release oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins during cuddling, which helps to reduce pain and stress. Serotonin makes your dog feel calm; endorphins make them feel happy; oxytocin makes them feel secure; all of these hormones work together to help your dog feel good.
6. Dogs Are Social Animals
All dogs are social animals, which means that they like to be around people and other animals (and even cats). Some dogs get separation anxiety when left alone.
Certain affectionate breeds, such as Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Yorkshire Terrier, and Golden Retrievers, were selectively bred for generations to become hunting companions for humans. Lap dogs, too.
Many rescue dogs have a temperament predisposed to cuddling, however. It's not just genetics.
Cuddling with a favorite person or animal is a form of bonding behavior that's hardwired into dogs, and this is why they like to cuddle: it makes them feel calm and content.
Dogs love to cuddle with their people because it brings them closer together as a pack. In the wild, dogs live in packs where they look out for each other and work together as a team. The pack mentality is still very much a part of their nature today.
Dogs like to show their love for us the same way that other dogs do. When one dog shows its affection to other dogs, it's called social grooming; this is how canines groom each other to bond with their pack.
Our dogs give us affection through cuddling so they can "groom" their pack members and feel closer to them.
Many dogs will cuddle with their favorite people when they are in distress, especially if it's caused by separation anxiety. This shows that your dog is not only looking for comfort when he or she cuddles with you but also to bond.
If you have a dog who has separation anxiety, cuddling can become very important as the two of you develop a stronger bond.
If your dog has separation anxiety, cuddling can help to calm them down and make them feel more secure as they wait for their favorite person to come home.
7. It's a Learned Behavior
Dogs learn this behavior when they're young by watching their mother cuddle with her pups. Dog cuddles are an important part of the canine social structure.
If a dog cuddles with its pet parents at an early age, it may continue the puppy pile throughout their lives.
They like to be close with their fellow canine species, which is why they cuddle with us—they see us as their family members.
Cuddling is a way of showing affection and bonding in the canine world, so dogs feel safe when they're in our arms or on their backs.
They see us as their leaders and protectors, and that makes them feel secure.
When living with humans, dogs tend to be somewhat insecure due to our dominance over them and the fact that we're much bigger than they are.
Canine domestication occurred thousands of years ago, and this early bonding surely included cuddles. They haven't lost their instincts.
They are pack animals and were born with the instinct that a pack is a family and it's safer in a pack than alone. They feel safe and comfortable near their favorite person.
Early dogs helped each other stay warm on really cold nights with cuddle time. This behavior is still very much a part of their nature today.
Dogs feel insecure without the security that comes with cuddling because it makes them feel like they're back in the pack with familiar people who protect them and give them love.
8. It Keeps Your Dog Healthy
Studies show that dogs who cuddle with dog owners have lower blood pressure than those who don't, so cuddling is good for your dog's health!
The longer you spend time cuddling with your dog, the more blood pressure regulators they release into their systems.
Cuddling is a great stress reliever. It just makes sense.
Spending time with you reduces their stress levels so that they don't have to release cortisol into their system, which contributes to weight gain and causes health problems just like it does for humans.
Because you reduce your dog's stress, she can think more clearly and becomes less anxious.
She'll be better able to focus on the problems instead of feeling so stressed out about them.
Cortisol contributes to weight gain, too, so your dog will feel less hungry and her appetite will decrease. This is the healthiest way to live for your dog, inside and out!
Pets are highly emotional creatures. Because they're so emotionally attached to their favorite people, dogs cuddle to feel safe and secure when they need it most.
Every time you pet your dog or she comes back to you after being away for a while, you're building the bond between you and your dog.
They feel our emotions when we pet them because this stimulates their sensory organs and gives them energy just like it does us.
When they sense that we're upset or sad, they try to comfort us in their own special way by cuddling with us.
Ever notice that your dog falls asleep the minute she lays down next to you? That's because cuddling with her favorite person is relaxing for her.
It doesn't matter if they're on the ground, in a dog bed, or even up on the sofa—dogs are more relaxed on their pet parents' laps, chests, and sides.
Some of them like to snuggle down right between your legs and some back up against you while others prefer to cuddle with a blanket or towel over themselves for warmth and security.
Dogs who cuddle live longer than those who aren't because their bodies are relaxed and they're not as likely to suffer from strokes.
Just one belly rub per day can extend their life!
9. They Want to Nurse From Us
For mother dogs, bonding with their pups is important. Nursing helps to establish this bond. For puppies, cuddling is necessary for survival; the puppy pile gives them protection and warmth.
Even as adults, dogs will cuddle after nursing because it makes them feel safe and comfortable. Nursing stimulates hormones that make dogs feel calm, secure, and content.
Nursing a pup is one of the things a mother will do to keep them safe and healthy. Dogs like to cuddle with their favorite people because it's like nursing.
10. They're Staying Warm
A Dog will cuddle with their favorite person after eating because it helps regulate their body temperature and makes them feel safe and protected.
After they've eaten, dogs like to sleep close to their favorite person or animal for warmth.
Serotonin is also produced when dogs are feeling cold, which makes them feel relaxed.
Serotonin causes the body temperature to rise slightly, so serotonin production causes a dog's body temperature to go up an average of 1 degree Fahrenheit.
This slight rise in body temperature relaxes the dog and helps it to calm down even more after eating or nursing. Serotonin also has a sedative effect that makes dogs feel calm and sleepy.
Hopefully, this information helped you better understand your dog's body language.
There are many reasons why dogs like to cuddle with people. When they feel secure because of their pack, they feel happy and relaxed.
Cuddling has many health benefits, such as reducing stress and lowering blood pressure, so try spending time with your dog on the couch or in bed. Cuddle up!
They cuddle with their favorite people to nurse and keep warm, and it also produces a comforting effect that helps them feel calm.
It's important to understand what goes on inside of your dog's mind so that you know how best to take care of him or her! You can do a lot of things to make your dog's life better.
For example, you can feed him the highest quality food you can find, making sure they always have plenty of clean water available and an appropriate amount of daily exercise.
There are also things you shouldn't do, such as cuddling with your dog if he's afraid of strangers or has separation anxiety. Petting him in these situations will only reinforce his fear because he'll think it's making him feel better.
Once you know how to make your dog feel safe and happy, you can create a happier environment for both of you!