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Dog lovers probably don’t really need an excuse to show their pooch how much they are loved and cared for! But National Hug Your Dog Day is here to act as a reminder for those folks who may have gotten a little busy and let their care for their pup wane a bit. This day brings an opportunity to stop taking that dog for granted and give a little more intentional love to that loyal and furry fellow! 

History of National Hug Your Dog Day

Dogs have been considered to be a best friend of humans for a very, very long time, evolving from wolves thousands of years ago. In fact, some historians estimate that dogs may have been domesticated as long as 20,000 years ago or more! Most likely, the domesticated relationship between dogs and humans began somewhere in Europe or possibly in western portions of Siberia.

National Hug Your Dog Day was started in an effort to draw attention to the joy and appreciation that people can show to their pets! The day may have gotten its start in the early 2000s by a dog trainer from Chicago, Ami Moore, who is also known as the “dog whisperer”. The hope for Moore was simply to show some support and honor for these delightful four legged companions.

Slightly different than National Hug Your Hound Day which is celebrated later in the year in September, National Hug Your Dog Day falls at a good time earlier in the year to be sure give that pooch a big hug. Or, why not celebrate them both? Since it’s never a bad idea to give your pup a delightful little squeeze!  

How to Celebrate National Hug Your Dog Day

Have tons of fun by implementing some of these ideas for activities related to National Hug Your Dog Day: 

Show Some Affection for Your Pup

While the sentiment behind National Hug Your Dog Day is a great one, it’s important to remember that not all dogs like to be hugged – so this day is a good chance to show them some affection in a way they will appreciate. That might mean giving them a scratch behind the ears or on the belly. It might mean offering them a special treat. Or it could mean going for a walk with them at the dog park. Whatever makes each particular dog feel loved is the right thing to do in celebration of this day!

Snuggle Up for a Movie with Your Dog

Spend some time loving on and hugging that furry friend while curling up in front of a cute little movie about dogs. It’s a great way to be reminded just how lucky humans are to be loved by these awesome creatures! So choose one of these cool dog movies (or another of your own favorites) and celebrate National Hug Your Dog Day:

  • Marley & Me (2009). It’s hard to get much cuter than this when it comes to movies about puppies! Based on a true story, this film stars Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson who play a couple that adopts a dog and learns a ton of lessons through the process.
  • Lady and the Tramp (1955). This original Disney animated film is a classic among dog lovers and just people in general. Best known for its iconic spaghetti kissing scene, the musical romance comedy offers a ton of fun for kids and adults of all ages. A live action version of this film was made in 2019.
  • Lassie Come Home (1943). This heartfelt story of a boy and his dog was later made into five more sequel films and then an American television series. This beloved dog film is a classic that stands the test of time.
  • One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961). Another classic animated Disney film, this one features an almost countless number of black and white spotted puppies who get up to all sorts of adventures. A live action remake of the story, starring Glenn Close, (101 Dalmatians) was released in 1996.

Visit an Animal Shelter

Those who don’t already have a dog but are considering adopting one might find that National Hug Your Dog Day is just the motivation they need to continue their search for a new canine family member. Some shelters may even host special events in honor of the day, offering special opportunities for families or individuals to meet with their adoptable dogs and perhaps make a match for a forever home!

And for those who might not be ready to take on the responsibility of a dog, this could be a good time to sign up to volunteer at a local animal shelter, spending time with these forgotten animals and making their lives a little better in the process.

Create a National Hug Your Dog Day Playlist

Get the soundtrack for the day going with amazing beats by creating a fun playlist on Spotify, Apple or another format. Choose some songs that represent the affectionate theme of the day, and get started with some of these:

  • Man of the Hour by Norah Jones (2009). In this delightful song, Jones sings about the idea that she’s decided to allow a dog to replace the men in her life.
  • The Dog Song by Dhani Harrison and Paul Hicks (2018). The son of Beatle George Harrison, Dhani wrote this as the theme song for the Netflix series called Dogs.
  • How Much is that Doggie in the Window? by Patti Page (1952). This delightful song was a popular novelty in the middle of the 20th century and has continued to be a fun little ditty in the 21st century.
  • Martha My Dear by The Beatles (1968). Written by Paul McCartney about his dog named Martha, this song was originally meant to be a piano exercise when McCartney was teaching himself how to play the piano. 

National Hug Your Dog Day FAQs

Do dogs hug their owners?

Dogs can show trust by coming up to their owners and leaning their full body weight on their legs. It’s sort of like a full body hug.[1]

What happens when you hug your dog?

Some dogs can perceive a hug as an aggressive action, making them feel pinned down, threatened and anxious.[2]

Should you hug your dog?

While showing affection to a dog is natural, some dogs would prefer not to be hugged. Instead, give them a good scratch behind the ears.[3]

Can you teach your dog to hug?

Some dogs can be trained how to hug by using treats to get them to put their neck around your neck.[4]

Why do dogs hug your legs?

When dogs ‘hug’ or rub up against human legs, it may be a sign of playfulness and excitement but can also be a manifestation of stress.[5]

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