You return home from work and your Beagle is all over you, demanding attention and hugs and cuddles, to make up for the time you were away. He wakes from a nap and jumps up on you for warmth and love as he licks your face. You lie down and he is on you, snuggling up and making himself comfortable.
Yes, your Beagle is a cuddler and he loves to feel warm in your embrace. It is not unusual in dogs, but your beagle may be a little more of a cuddler than dogs of other breeds. There are many reasons for this.
Touch = Love
Humans understand the value of touch. A gentle touch, a loving caress or a hearty hug is a sign of affection and love. Humans need such constant reminders of love.
Your Beagle seems to be no different. Having lived with humans for more than 30,000 years, the pooch has become more human than canine in some aspects. Being a hunting animal, the beagles are pack animals that need warmth and human companionship to feel happy and warm.
This behavior research result is supported by research in neuroscience as well. According to a study, the relationship between a dog and its human caregiver is that of a child and parent. It is not surprising since most humans raise dogs from the time they are little pups and perform the functions of a parent.
Dogs too turn to their caregivers in times of fear and anxiety. They seek their owner out at such moments and need to be comforted and soothed. This is similar to the behavior displayed by toddlers who need the reassuring arms of their parents when they are distressed.
If you think this is the spontaneous reaction any creature would display, then no. Cats and horses seek to run away and hide in such situations.
Related: Are Beagles Good With Kids?
Bonding between people happens at different levels. It has been found that just gazing into each other’s eyes can create an emotional bond in humans because of the hormone called oxytocin, a hormone that promotes positive emotional states. A study shows that the same reaction can be seen between humans and their loyal friends, the dogs.
Interestingly, among pets, only dogs gaze back and that too only in their human caregivers’ eyes. Pet wolves didn’t do it and dogs don’t do it to each other, a study reveals. Dogs may cuddle against their biological parents but do not try to establish eye contact like they do with humans.
Other studies confirm that the bonding between dogs and humans has a positive impact on both when mutual love is expressed explicitly such as through hugging and cuddling. There is an increase in oxytocin.
Oxytocin is not just a love hormone. As one ages, the skeletal muscle loses its capacity for regeneration. Oxytocin was hitherto associated with lactation, parturition and social behavior. But now, studies show that it is also needed for proper muscle tissue regeneration and homeostasis.
With age, the plasma levels of oxytocin declines. When there is oxytocin signaling inhibition in young animals, it too affects muscle regeneration. By systemically administering oxytocin, muscle regeneration can be rapidly improved. Oxytocin is normally released during labor and breastfeeding and is also released because of non-noxious sensory stimulation such as gentle touch.
When there is emotional bonding between the dog and its human parent, there is an increase not only in oxytocin but also cortisol. This was seen not only in the dogs but their owners as well.
Cortisol, a steroid hormone, which regulates processes such as metabolism and immune response, also plays an important role during times of stress. When a beagle is cuddled affectionately, the cortisol levels drop, improving his capability to deal with stress and lowering blood pressure. The gastrointestinal tract functioning improves. There is an improvement in the pain threshold as well. That is, the tolerance to pain improves.
Related: Why Do Beagles Sleep So Much?
The Special Connection
Studies also tell us that the bonding between dogs and their human is not a figment of human imagination and romantic notions. It is not that the dogs display love because of the treats that they get but that they genuinely warm up to their caregivers.
During a study, dogs were presented with five scents that included that of the dog, a familiar human, a stranger, a familiar dog and an unknown dog. All scents activated the olfactory bulb/peduncle to a similar degree. What varied was that when the familiar human’s scent was presented, the caudate was activated maximally. This suggested a positive association with the familiar human, who was not even present during the testing.
All these only go to prove how much the dog truly considers the human caregiver as his parent or friend and forms a bond that goes beyond that of an owner and a pet.
Symbol of Love
The Beagle knows how to melt your heart with his oodles of cuteness, big brown or hazel eyes, long, houndy ears set low on a broad head. It was bred to be with humans, helping them in their hunts and sharing their bed on cold nights for warmth and comfort after a long tiring day. A fun-loving, athletic breed, the Beagle basks in human companionship and enjoys being around you.
Though there was one study recently that tried to dissuade people from hugging their dogs, claiming the canines actually hate it, don’t get carried away by it. The study analyzed photographs of humans cuddling their dogs and interpreted the half-moon eyes and guilty look of the dogs, the looking away and lip-licking as evidence of dogs in stress.
Dogs in general, your Beagle more so, loves to snuggle up to you. Even if for a moment we give the study credit, it does not explain why dogs themselves rise on their hind legs to reach out to you and get you to carry them if they are small or hug them back. Your Beagle often jumps on your lap and curls up comfortably with your arms around him and barely protests.
The truth, in our reckoning, is that there may be some dogs that like to be left alone. But that doesn’t mean all are the same. If your Beagle loves to be cuddled, then cuddle him unstintingly. If he doesn’t, then don’t force as that can cause stress in your pooch.
The second word of caution is, be careful about not hurting your pet by smothering him with your love, either physically or emotionally. Maintaining a balance in the display of love and leaving him alone to his own devices is very important for your pet to grow up to be a well-adjusted adult. This will help him deal with your absences without developing separation anxiety.
Related: When Do Beagles Stop Growing?
To Cuddle or Not
This decision of whether he should be cuddled or not is really made by your pet. If your pet Beagle is all over you, then he clearly enjoys being cuddled and you can let yourself go. It is a need that has history and biology. The 30,000 years of living with humans has made your beagle very similar to humans in his ability to express love and seek human embrace.
Being a pack animal, your Beagle draws comfort from the physical proximity and will often want to rub his back against you as he curls up for a nap. Being hunters out in the wild, chasing game on cold nights, the beagles have also developed an affinity for drawing warmth from the embrace.
Finally, it is good for your pet as it improves the oxytocin and cortisol levels in his body. It improves his emotional well being, ability to cope with stress and even muscle regeneration.
Your Beagle may not understand the science behind his need for a cuddle but he definitely understands how good it makes him feel.