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How to Teach Your Dog to Hug in 3 Simple Steps

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By Nicole Cosgrove

dog hug

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When you’re spending time in the great outdoors with your dog, playing fetch and romping around with your pooch is loads of fun for your dog and yourself. However, when you’re stuck indoors, your dog can easily become bored.

Dogs like performing and showing off tricks they know. Teaching your dog a few tricks can keep his mind sharp and strengthen the bond you share with them. A popular trick many people want their pets to do is to give hugs. There’s nothing cuter than seeing a dog place his head and neck against his owner’s neck in an adorable doggie embrace.

We’ll walk you through the steps involved with teaching your dog to hug so you can get started with the training when you like. But first, we’ll tell you about some things you should do before the training so both you and your pooch are ready to go.

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Exercise Your Dog Beforehand and Arm Yourself With Treats

Before you begin any training exercise with your dog, it’s a good idea to exercise your pooch so he’s calm and less anxious. Take your dog for a long walk or go outdoors and play fetch for a few minutes before you start teaching your dog to cuddle up close for a hug.

You should also have some scrumptious doggie treats on hand to reward your dog during the training. Soft treats work best because you can break off pieces to give your dog small amounts as you proceed through the steps.

It’s also important to choose a quiet area for your training. This will ensure that your dog doesn’t become distracted by things like kids playing, people walking by, and neighbors coming and going.

Once the prep work is out of the way, it’s time to begin teaching your furry friend how to hug.

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The 3 Simple Steps to Teach Your Dog to Hug

1. Take a Treat and Get Down to Your Dog’s Level

Grab a doggie treat and either sit in a chair or kneel so you can look your dog in the eye. While holding the treat in your hand, place your hand behind your head around your neck.

When your dog moves toward the treat and tries to eat it, let him nibble on it a little and then give it to him without moving your hand from behind your neck. Repeat this several times without saying anything.

2. Add a Vocal Hug Command to the Exercise

Once your dog is taking the treat from your hand that’s around the back of your neck, do the same thing again as you say, “hug me,” or just, “hug.” You’ll need to repeat this a few times and increase the duration of the trick by giving him the treat after he holds the hug for several seconds.

Women doing dog training in a brindle colored cane corso mastiff in the forest
Image Credit: BoJack, Shutterstock

3. Vocalize Your Command Without Your Hand Behind Your Head

When your dog is doing well at holding the hug for several seconds, start doing the exercise without putting your hand on the back of your head. Instead, simply say, “hug me,” or, “hug,” and give him a treat when he performs the trick.

If he doesn’t hug you without seeing your hand cure, give him the hand signal again but for a shorter time. Then reduce the amount of time you give the hand signal until your dog does the trick with only the verbal cue.

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Dog Training 101: Know the Basics

It’s common for dog owners to wonder why, despite their best efforts, their attempts at dog training fall short. If you’ve ever failed at trying to teach your dog something, you know that it takes more than hope that your dog will know what you want him to do and do it.

Here are a few tips that can help your dog training efforts succeed, whether you’re trying to teach your dog to sit, stay, come, or give you a big hug.

Stay Focused on Your Dog and Be Consistent

It’s important to stay focused on your pooch when you’re trying to teach him something new. If your dog notices that you’re distracted or not totally into the training, he likely will lose interest in what you’re trying to teach him.

Consistency is the key to success. This means you should always use the same verbal cues and in the same tone of voice. And don’t switch up the training mid-session with any tweaks you come up with because it will only confuse your furry pal.

training Australian Cattle Dog
Image Credit: Lara Sh, Shutterstock

Only Teach Your Dog One Trick at a Time

To avoid confusing your dog, only teach him one trick at a time. Even though your dog is eager to please you, he needs to learn at his pace so don’t overdo things by trying to teach your dog more than one new thing at a time.

Enjoy Yourself During the Dog Training

When your dog sees that you’re enjoying a training session, he’ll do the same. It’s a good idea to play with your dog before and after each training session and give him plenty of positive reinforcement when the training is over.

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There’s nothing cuter than seeing a dog hug its owner. With some basic prep work and consistency on your part, you can succeed at teaching your dog how to hug you. Be patient and reward him when he learns how to give big cuddly hugs and be sure to show your family and friends your dog’s new trick because everyone enjoys seeing a doggie embrace!

Featured Image Credit: EverGrump, Shutterstock

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