All primates have an intense need for ventral-ventral contact (hug). It is how we reassure and show love, empathy, and support. Primates are hugging machines! It feels good and it is good–for us.
The closest approximation to the biomechanics of a hug that canines do to each other is (and I hate using this word as it is painfully overused, but in this case is accurate) a dominance display.
But your dog LOVES hugs? I’m 1000% sure that your dog has absolutely come to understand that their crazy primate means all of the good and happy love things when they press their chest against them and squeeze and as such, completely accepts it from you. Heck, there are some dogs out there like our Mr. Humphrey who actively puts his head onto anyone’s shoulder and pushes his chest against whoever will let him in a rough approximation of a hug. He does that because he has figured out that people like this weird hugging thing and he *really* likes people.
Some dogs will put up with it; but here’s why we don’t allow children to hug dogs, not even their own:
Teaching tiny humans that something is okay sometimes and not okay other times? That is a recipe for failure. You do not want any child to feel that hugging a dog is okay, because what if the next dog they try to hug hates it? Kids are small and what might have been a painful bruise on an adult could end up being facial disfiguring bite that requires surgery on a child. It’s not necessarily that your child should never ever ever ever ever hug your dog – your dog has been taught to accept such things and your child loves that dog and how do primates (including humans) show love? Hugging. But why would you want your children to think that hugging dogs is the proper way to behave around them? Please actively teach children not to hug dogs.
Has anyone else ever had a bad day? I have, and then someone you love does something that normally doesn’t irritate you too badly, but because your day has been horrible, you just lose it on that loved one who put the empty container back in the fridge AGAIN (or whatever it is you normally tolerate just fine)?
Yeah, dogs have bad days too. And at the end of the bad day you do not want it to be a child to be hugging a dog who has just had enough.
Love your children. Love your dogs. Please teach your children the correct way to interact with all dogs!