If you’re used to having a super-cuddly dog, you might be a bit surprised or hurt if your dog isn’t cuddling with you anymore. It’s not a good idea to force a dog to show physical affection, and many dogs dislike cuddling. However, if your dog used to be cuddly and has changed his behavior, it could be a sign that something isn’t right. Let’s have a look at why your dog isn’t cuddling with you, and what you can do to put your relationship back on track.
Why won’t my dog cuddle with me anymore?
If your dog has never been cuddly, it might just be that they don’t want to be physically affectionate. For many dogs, being physically close to a human is intimidating. They may feel nervous and trapped if forced into a cuddle, so you should never force a dog to cuddle that doesn’t want to.
However, if your normally affectionate dog has suddenly stopped cuddling, it might be worth looking at some of these reasons:
Have you changed your routine lately? Dogs may want physical affection at certain points in the day, and changing your routine may mean that your timing is off. If you usually cuddle in the evenings, but now only have time in the morning, perhaps this is what’s confusing your dog.
2. You Adopted a New Dog
Another major change in routine that might upset your dog is a new household member. Although this could be another dog, a new kitten or even a baby can sap your attention and leave your dog feeling left out. Have a think about whether something is taking more of your attention away from your dog, and leaving them to seek their comfort elsewhere.
3. Your Dog is Sick
Any change in behavior can be a sign that something isn’t right with your dog, and not cuddling with you anymore is no exception. Luckily, there will usually be other signs of illness, so watch your dog carefully for any other changes in behavior. Drinking more, urinating oddly, diarrhea, lethargy, and inappetence are all common signs that something isn’t right with your dog and may help your vet to work out what’s going on.
4. You’re Not Treating your Dog Right
Dogs look to us for companionship and leadership. If you haven’t been providing these consistently, your dog may be confused about his relationship with you. Consider whether you’ve been leaving your dog alone for long periods of time, leading him to look for comfort elsewhere. You’ll also need to make sure you’re providing a healthy diet, plenty of exercise, and lots of mental stimulation.
5. Your Dog is Confused
Another thing to check is whether you’re giving consistent messages to your dog – he’ll appreciate clear rules, not ones that change depending on your mood. If he’s not always allowed on the bed to cuddle, but sometimes is, this could get confusing for him. Similarly, if you let him on the sofa to cuddle but your partner tells him off, he’s going to get confused and stop cuddling with you.
6. Your Dog Doesn’t Know if you Want Cuddles
The world of human-canine communication is not an easy one for either party, despite having thousands of years to work on it. Your dog may simply be being polite and not instigating cuddles, instead being mindful that you might not want them. This is more likely if you’ve confused your dog in the past by refusing cuddles.
How to encourage cuddles from your dog
If you want to get your dog to cuddle you more, we’ve put together some ideas that might help you fathom what’s wrong and fix it.
Consider what happened when your dog stopped cuddling you
Using our reasons why your dog isn’t cuddling you, above, think about whether anything could have upset your dog and stopped them cuddling you. Has there been a change in routine or a new household member? Did you do something that upset your dog, or made them confused about whether you want to be cuddled?
Once you’ve identified what went wrong, you have a greater chance of fixing it.
Consider what is different when your dog does cuddle you
If your dog still cuddles you occasionally, think about what’s different. Is it your location – are they only cuddling you on the sofa, or in bed? Or perhaps it’s your clothes? Maybe they only cuddle you when they’re scared, tired, or hungry? Figuring out what’s different when your dog does approach you for cuddles can help you work out what’s wrong.
Consider speaking to a vet
A change in behavior, especially when it’s sudden, is a cause for concern. You should consider speaking to a vet if this behavior change comes with any other changes or symptoms that could be concerning. Even a single behavior change like this one could be a clue that something isn’t right. Even though you might feel silly calling the vet about your dog not cuddling, trust your instincts – you know your dog better than anybody!
Reward your dog appropriately
Like all animals, dogs will naturally be more likely to repeat an action that is rewarding. When it comes to cuddles, you might think that the act of cuddling is enough – but your dog may disagree. Try rewarding your dog with a treat when they show physical affection. This will help them realise that they’re doing the right thing, and they’ll try again later in the hope of another treat.
Divide time between multiple dogs
If your dog isn’t cuddling with you due to jealousy or because you aren’t emotionally available, make sure you give individual attention to each of your dogs. You can shut the other dog away for a while if they tend to interrupt quiet cuddles, or get a family member to walk one dog so you can have quiet time with the other.
Check your house rules are clear and consistent
Remove all confusion about when, where, and with whom cuddles are allowed by making sure all house rules are clear and consistent. Hold a family meeting and decide what furniture the dog is allowed on so that everybody is on the same page.
Teach a ‘cuddle’ command
If your dog is showing confusion about when they can cuddle, you can teach them a ‘cuddle’ command. Next time your dog is having a nice cuddle with you, choose a command word (like ‘cuddle’ or ‘hugs’) and tell them it, then reward them. Each time they come to you for a cuddle, repeat the word, and give them a treat when they comply. In no time, you’ll be able to tell your dog that you are in the mood for a cuddle.
You can also introduce a command for stopping the cuddle session or letting your dog know that cuddles are not wanted right now. This can be handy if you have a persistent dog who will bother members of the family throughout the day.
If your dog doesn’t want to cuddle with you anymore, it’s understandable you might feel confused and hurt. But remember, dogs don’t think the same way as humans. They aren’t meaning to punish you or teach you a lesson, and they don’t mean to hurt you. In fact, it’s possible your dog is as confused as you are!
Use our tips to take a good long look at why your dog might not want to cuddle, and how you can fix it. And remember – if it’s out of character, consider whether it could be a symptom of illness, and contact your vet if you’re concerned.