It’s not uncommon for dog owners to have their own unique ways of showing their love for their dog. Some people like to give their dogs a kiss, others might just give them a new toy, and some might give them a hug. But when we cuddle our dogs, we might be greeted by a small groan or a little grunt.
What does that mean? Why do dogs grunt when we cuddle them?
Your dog may groan or grunt when being cuddled because they’re feeling happy, relaxed, or even sleepy. For some dogs, grunting is a sign of comfort while for others, especially certain breeds grunting means they’re uncomfortable with being cuddled, or they’re not used to it. It could also mean that your dog is in pain.
Those are just a few of the reasons so let’s take a closer look at 8 reasons why your dog might groan or grunt when you cuddle them and if you need to do anything about it.
8 Reasons Why Your Dog Grunts When You Cuddle Them
While there are many different reasons why your dog might groan or grunt when you hug or cuddle them, we’ll be taking a deeper dive into 8 reasons why your dog does so. It’s important to remember that it might not just be one reason why your dog does it, but it may be a combination of these reasons.
Taking into consideration of your dog’s situation, setting, and context when it comes to their behavior can help you better understand what’s happening and help you find a more accurate explanation!
Reason 1: Your Dog Is Feeling Sleepy
It might have been a long day for both you and your dog, but you wanted to spend some time cuddling with your pup! However, you’re met with a grunt when you do so. What could this mean?
Dogs might grunt or groan when you cuddle them because they’re feeling sleepy. They might have just been getting ready to find their comfy spot to take a nap or to call it a night. Your dog could’ve already been sleeping and was woken up by a cuddly human. By grunting when you cuddle them, your dog may be trying to tell you that they want to go take a nap.
Take a look at this video of a dog owner trying to cuddle their dog only to be thanked by grunts:
Reason 2: Your Dog Is Feeling Relaxed
Grunting does not always mean that a dog is displeased by something. In fact, it could mean the opposite!
Whenever you are around, your dog might feel the most comfortable and safe. Because of this, you being near them might help them feel calm. Hugging your dog could be a way to make them feel relaxed and comforted.
In a way, a grunt for a dog might be considered similar to a sigh of relief when you finally have time to relax. Looking at their body language and for other signs such as a relaxed tail and a slight smiling look can be indicators that your dog is feeling very relaxed when in your embrace! They may even let out a sigh!
Reason 3: Your Dog Is Happy
Your dog might be grunting when you cuddle, or even when you simply pet them because they are pleased. Your dog might do it because they are happy!
You and your dog spend a lot of time together, doing things that they love. Because of the time and care that you give to your canine child, it’s not unusual to think that you are your dog’s favorite person, and being around you makes them happy! Our dogs make us happy as well so it’s no wonder that you might feel very connected to your dog as well!
Since you’re your dog’s favorite person, time with you might feel like the greatest part of the day. Cuddling with our dogs, depending on our dog’s likes and dislikes, might make our pups super happy that they want to let out a grunt of happiness!
Reason 4: Your Dog Is Uncomfortable
On the other side of the previous reasons, your dog might not enjoy hugs or cuddles. Humans have their own way of showing affection including physical touch such as hugging and cuddling. Being different species and having different ways to communicate, dogs have their own ways of showing affection.
Your dog might let out a grunt or groan when you cuddle them because they don’t like the feeling of being cuddled. Their grunt does not definitely mean that they don’t like you, but rather, they don’t like what you’re doing.
To some dogs, cuddling them or hugging them could feel like they are being trapped. According to Dr. Coren, a dog psychologist and behaviorist, his study included looking at photographs of owners hugging their dogs. The results showed that over 80% of the dogs in the photos showed signs of stress even though many did not seem to outwardly dislike the hug.
While our dogs might not dislike us, they may just tolerate our cuddling and hugging even though they really don’t like it!
Reason 5: Your Dog Is A Certain Breed
While certain breeds might be considered more affectionate than others, that may not indicate whether or not your pup might like being cuddled and might let out a grunt of discomfort.
However, some breeds are more likely to make grunting noises than others. Brachycephalic dog breeds are those with flat faces such as bulldogs, pugs, and shih tzus. Their skulls are different compared to dogs with longer snouts, making them more prone to health issues such as breathing problems. Because of this, you might notice that these dogs tend to make snorting noises and have sleeping difficulties.
When you cuddle your dog, if they are a brachycephalic breed, your dog might have a more difficult time breathing normally. After all, a tight hug from another person can wind us when not ready for it!
Reason 6: Your Dog Is Not Used To Cuddling
A grunt from your dog when cuddling could also mean that they are simply just not used to it!
Do you normally hug your dog? Did you just adopt your pup recently? There’s a chance that your dog is just not used to the act of cuddling or hugging and they are grunting to let you know that they might be a little unsure about what is happening.
Those who have recently adopted an older dog find it important to know that the dog has a past that might not have included things that we find normal with other dogs. Since we do not know their pasts, some things that we see or do in our lives could be new experiences for newly adopted older dogs.
Reason 7: Your Dog Is Still Young
Puppies are experiencing new things throughout the entire day. If you suddenly cuddle your puppy, you might notice that they start to grunt and maybe even squirm around.
Since cuddling might be a new experience for your puppy, your puppy might be wondering what that strange feeling is and try to break away as soon as possible. Grunting, as mentioned in the previous reason, might be a way for your puppy to show you that they are unsure about what is going on and might be a little uncomfortable.
Watching out for your puppy’s other behaviors could let you know over time whether they like cuddling or if they still find it as strange as the first time!
Watch this video of a puppy grunting when their owner tries to give them hugs:
Reason 8: Your Dog Might Have Health Concerns
As mentioned before, your dog might grunt when you cuddle them because they find the cuddle unpleasant or uncomfortable. However, there are times when your dog is feeling uncomfortable because of a health concern and it might have been emphasized when you cuddle your dog.
Stomach issues could be found when you notice your dog is showing signs of pain when you touch your dog’s belly. Pay attention to what your dog eats and how much they are eating. If things seem a little off about their eating habits and amounts, it may be a stomach issue that is causing your dog to grunt when you cuddle them.
There is also the chance that your dog has a respiratory problem. Does your pup grunt or groan even when you’re not cuddling them? The grunting could be related to their breathing.
If your dog is arching their back, then that pain might be caused by an abdominal issue like bloat, or a spinal issue like an acute injury. In that case you need to immediately take your pup to the vet.
From injuries to diseases, there is a chance that your dog could be facing one of these issues, and grunting or even suddenly screaming could be signs that something is wrong.
Should You Worry About This Behavior
Grunting, like with other dog behaviors, is a way for our dogs to communicate. As mentioned previously, there could be a bunch of different meanings behind grunting, it could mean they are comfortable or even uncomfortable.
In general, your dog grunting or groaning when you cuddle or hug them is not something to worry about. Every dog is different so some might grunt because they like hugging while others might grunt as a way to tell their owner that they don’t like the feeling.
However, if you suspect that your dog is grunting when you cuddle them because of a health-related concern, it is best to check with your veterinarian. Keeping an eye on your dog’s behaviors and knowing what’s considered normal behavior for them can help you recognize the signs when something is wrong and when it’s time to seek help from a professional.
Those are the 8 reasons why your dog groans or grunts when you cuddle them!
Since our dogs can’t communicate with us through using words, it is up to us to understand their behaviors and body language so that we can get to understand our dogs more. The better we understand why our dogs do what they do, the better we can help them in times they need help.
It’s important to note the context and setting of your dog since they will not do something for only one reason throughout their life. There are so many reasons why our dogs do something and finding out the reasons why they do those things can lead to a happier and healthier relationship with our dogs!