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If you've ever thought to yourself, "My dog doesn't like me," or "Why do I have such a standoffish cat?" rest assured that you aren't the only pet parent who has these concerns. From time to time, dogs and cats may appear distant, but that doesn't mean you can't bond with your furry friend and certainly doesn't mean your pet hates you.
When it's time to welcome a dog into your home, you may imagine cuddling, fun training games and lots of playtime. Unfortunately, that's not always the case. There can be an adjustment period for both dogs and humans, so remind yourself that sometimes when you may think "My dog doesn't like me," they're really just taking time to get to know you.
If you've had your dog for a while, it can be alarming to suddenly wonder, "Maybe my dog doesn't like me anymore," especially if you've always had a close bond. This may be a reason to be concerned. Changes in behaviour may indicate a health problem, so it's important to bring your dog to the veterinarian. Health isn't the only reason a dog's behaviour changes. A dog who suddenly becomes disinterested in their pack may be experiencing a wide range of emotions, such as jealousy, anxiety or depression. Has anything changed in your home environment recently? Maybe someone moved into your home (or out of it). Maybe you've been taking them for walks less often than usual. Any changes in routine, even small ones, may be reason for your dog to act disinterested in you.
It's also important to make sure that you're respecting your dog's personality and not just assuming, "I guess my dog doesn't like me," when really their personality is different than your expectations. Here's a pertinent example from Vetstreet: "Some dogs love to snuggle and be held, while others only tolerate touch. If your dog doesn't enjoy petting, but you keep trying to touch them, it's very likely your dog will avoid you."
Finally, age may play a role in your dog appearing distant. A formerly playful pup now suffering with arthritis may lounge in bed instead of getting up to chase a ball. This change in behaviour doesn't mean they no longer loves spending time with you, they’re just adjusting to their elder years.
There are many ways you can form a bond or rebuild a relationship with your dog. Here are a few examples you can try right away:
● Take your dog for daily walks.
● Feed your dog meals at consistent times throughout the day.
● Play games with your dog, such as fetch or run a dog obstacle course.
● Pet or groom your dog nightly.
● Share treats during training exercises or for good behaviour.
While many cats are warm, loving and full of cuddles, the species as a whole is known for being independent. So, you're not alone if you think you have a standoffish cat. Often, cats like partaking in solo activities and require less one-on-one time with their humans than dogs. Their independence doesn't mean that starting a training routine is a bad idea. In fact, the time you spend training your cat will help to build a relationship. While their independent nature may not be what you were hoping for, give it time. After a while they'll realise that you are their source of food, toys, cat trees and more and their affection for you will start to grow.
If your cat suddenly appears distant it's important to address this with a vet to rule out health concerns. Cats seclude themselves and lose interest in their pet parents when they feel ill or when something is wrong. Rule out feline health concerns, such as arthritis, diabetes or kidney disease, which are three of the seven most common illnesses in senior cats, says PetMD.
If your cat is young and healthy or once they get a clean bill of health, understand that your cat isn't being intentionally rude; just showing affection in a different way. According to PetMD, here is one way your cat may try to show love: "The head bump. It's their way of saying hello, by using the oil glands in front of the ears to greet you as if you're a cat and leave their scent on you. Your cat sees you as one of the clan, so bump right back."
There are many ways you can show your love to your cat. Here are a few examples you can try right away to help rebuild a bond or start a new relationship on the right foot, or ... paw:
- Feed your cat meals at consistent times throughout the day.
- Play games with your cat, such as waving a feather wand or throwing a toy mouse.
- Pet or groom your cat nightly.
- Share treats (a few kibbles of their food will work) while playing or to initiate contact.
- Start a conversation by meowing or purring.
Just remember, it may appear that your dog or cat seem distant, but that doesn't mean your pet doesn't love you. Address any changes to their lives to determine why they might seem distant, spend time together and soon you'll enjoy a happy, loving relationship.
Erin Ollila is a pet enthusiast who 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. Reach out to her on Twitter @ReinventingErin or learn more about her at http://erinollila.com.