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Chances are, when you first adopted your dog, you imagined a future when you and your puppy spent as much time together as possible. Whether chasing balls at the park or cuddling on the couch, you thought you'd be best pals. Instead, you find yourself wondering why your dog isn't affectionate toward you and trying to figure out if it is you or your dog that is the problem here
Aren't dogs supposed to be man's best friend? And if so, why doesn't yours seem to want to be very physically close to you?
Why Are Some Dogs Not Affectionate?
If you're thinking that your dog isn't affectionate toward you, don't take it personally. It's likely not about you at all. There are many reasons why dogs don't show a lot of affection. First, if your dog was adopted, their former home may have improperly cared for them — or worse, abused them. If so, your dog may have trust issues or even feel afraid of humans.
Additionally, just like some humans, your dog may enjoy their personal space. Not everyone enjoys a lot of physical closeness. Animals and humans alike have different attitudes toward petting, physical proximity and cuddling. And dog cuddling behaviour varies from pet to pet.
Dogs can also be territorial or consider another member of the family as their best friend. If your dog shows affection toward other members of the family, or you're being introduced to the dog for whatever reason, it just may take some time for them to warm up to you.
Finally, your dog may simply be showing their affection for you in other ways. Don't miss the signs that they care, just because you hoped they’d show affection by cuddling. They’re likely already showing you in a different manner.
Dogs Show Affection in Many Ways
It's a bummer to discover that you and your pet don't speak the same love language. However, this doesn't mean your dog is incapable of showing you they care.
Dogs aim to please their pet parents, and every pet is different; consider how your dog may be seeking your attention. It could be as simple as chasing and retrieving a ball or stick. By playing along, it's as if your dog is saying, "I have brought you this gift of a slobber-and-dirt-covered ball because I care about you." If you run with your pet, notice how they keep your pace. If you let them, your dog would probably outrun you from the start, but their training and desire to please is just another way to show that they care.
There are many other possible signs of affection. Do you come home from work to see your dog staring out the window, waiting for you to return? Do they bring you a toy or treat to share with you in moments when you aren't playing? Though your dog may not like to cuddle on your lap, they may be trying to show you how happy they are in your presence — just look for the clues.
Know Your Pup's Baseline
Not all dogs are affectionate, but if your dog once was cuddly and suddenly isn't, consider this a sign that something could be wrong. Any major changes in your dog's behaviour or activities may warrant a trip to the vet to make sure there are no other issues, such as an illness or injury.
Finally, if you want to encourage more cuddles from your pet, you'll have to work on training them to be more affectionate. Based on their personality, set reasonable goals. Maybe you can train them to give high-fives or praise them with a healthy treat every time they let you pet their head for a short moment. Never let food be your main source of affection because you'll teach them bad habits and, worse, you can put their weight at risk by overfeeding them.
Remember that positive encouragement is the key to success. The more you motivate your dog, the more they’ll be willing to show affection — within the boundaries of their personality.
Erin Ollila believes in the power of words and how a message can inform—and even transform—its intended audience. Her writing can be found all over the internet and in print, and includes interviews, ghostwriting, blog posts, and creative nonfiction. Erin is a geek for SEO and all things social media. She graduated from Fairfield University with an M.F.A. in Creative Writing. Reach out to her on Twitter @ReinventingErin or learn more about her at http://erinollila.com.