If you’re currently going through a phase where your dog does not want to be around you anymore or is no longer being affectionate, then I hope these notes will help you. It’s not that uncommon for dogs to start ignoring you all of a sudden, and switch off their affection.
In this short guide you can find out why your dog isn’t affectionate anymore and what you can do to hopefully get their behavior back on track. But the short answer first…
Why isn’t my dog affectionate anymore? Your dog has probably stopped being affectionate towards you due to a change in circumstances. Perhaps something in the house has changed, their routine, or it could be health and age related.
There’s more to it than that, so please read on to see why your dog has this new lack of affection and how you can get to the root of the problem, possibly solving it.
Reasons why your dog’s affections may have changed
Most changes in a dog’s behaviour are triggered by a change in circumstances. These include a change of environment, additions to the household, and the even the life stage of the dog – resulting in them not wanting to be around you anymore.
Well, your dog may be picking up on changes in your circumstances, especially events that cause you stress or keep you away from home for long periods of time. Or it could be something as trivial as a change in your body spray or make up.
This could stress the dog, or make them want to distance themselves.
On a serious note, your dog may be declining in age or health, or reacting to triggers that bring back memories of former abusive situations.
Why dogs look for affection
Most dogs are sociable animals. They desire to bond with other members of a pack, which includes humans.
Certain dogs are chosen as therapists, because they have a high degree of empathy, and will lie silently near you when they sense you are sick, anxious or sad.
They can also be mercenary. On a cold night they will cuddle, on the bed, under the duvet, if allowed, for warmth rather than social interaction.
Others feel the need to feel secure, and you, being larger than it, offer that security. On the other hand, your dog may be near you in order to guard you, and to be your security.
Reasons why your dog isn’t affectionate anymore
Here are those reasons in a bit more detail on why your dog might not want to be around you anymore.
1. Life stages
In the beginning, your puppy views you as his entire world. It will run to you for all its needs. As it gains its independence and perceives that it has more choices, it may form attachments with other pets or people in the household.
As dogs get older, their needs and interests change. The dog that would rush to join you on a long walk, now chooses to laze in front of the fireplace or at the feet of your more sedentary grandmother. Remember, dogs age 7 times faster than we do.
My 16, going on 17-year old Jack Russell, has lost sight in one eye, and much of her hearing. Due to her limitations, it is easy to confuse her. She sometimes views me with suspicion, and acts contrary to what I expect.
Handy Hint: Here’s how you can test to see if your dog is starting to lose his hearing with the early onset of deafness.
2. The dog’s personality
Some dogs are not sociable and no amount of coaxing will make them cuddle or show affection. Others have aloofness bred into them, and once past the puppy stage, grow into the characteristics of the breed.
Others are friendly with everyone and will spend their time with whoever is the most interesting at the time. Often, if there are children in the vicinity, adults lose their appeal. This is certainly the case with one of our rescued dogs.
3. New additions to the household
A new baby in the house brings many changes, not least of all into your dog’s life, especially if it is the only dog. Suddenly, its owners have more pressing priorities and less energy and time to devote to it. There are new smells and sounds in the house.
One minute it is an integral part of your social structure and the next moment its an outcast. If the dog is not included in the changes in your routine, it will be bewildered and may withdraw from you altogether. Care needs to be taken to re-establish the dog’s understanding of the new social order before jealousy sets in.
A similar reaction can be expected if you bring home a new puppy, grown dog or other pet. The incumbent’snose will be out of joint if the introductions are not handled well.
It is best to let the dogs meet away from the home where they can play and get to know each other in neutral territory, before bringing the new dog home.
Expect temporary change in your dog’s behaviour. The focus will shift to dealing with the interloper and you might be out of favour for a while. You may return to its good books one day or new alliances may form.
4. Changes in the your lifestyle
If your circumstances change, for example, you need to spend more time away from home, this will affect your dog. It may take a few days for you and your canine companion to slip comfortably back into your old routines.
Are you paying more frequent visits to a friend with an affectionate lapdog? Your dog will detect this scent when you return home and may ‘punish’ your indiscretion with a detached sulk.
If you or more distracted or stressed while you are home, your dog will sense this and will become more subdued.
Dogs do not react well to strain, conflict and, especially, raised voices. Their hearing is many times more sensitive than ours, and they will definitely absorb some of the tension in the atmosphere.
None of this is conducive to cuddling, but while humans can kiss and make up, a dog will remain confused.
5. Do you speak dog language?
Dogs express affection differently from humans. If a dog bared its teeth in a ‘smile’, you would understandably be cautious.
Dogs make eye contact in order to bond with their humans. However, there is a delicate balance between a friendly glance and a dominant stare. If you maintain eye contact for too long, your dog may see this as aggression, and keep away from you.
Handy Hint: Just for a bit of fun, I decided to figure out what it would be like if dogs could talk.
Whereas you may enjoy the comfort of a bear hug, this gesture may make your dog uncomfortable to the point of feeling threatened. Your dog may become stiff and anxious because it feels as if it is on guard. Its focus is on protecting you and will be restricted in carrying out its intended duty, if your arms are about its neck.
6. Mixed messages
Are you consistent in your behaviour towards your dog? For example, is it allowed to jump up at you when you have casual clothes on but not when you are dressed up to go out? The dog cannot tell the difference and will stop the behaviour altogether.
By and large, dogs have short attention spans but long memories. If your dog has done something wrong, it needs to be reprimanded in the moment. Even minutes later, an admonition will be confusing as the dog will not connect it with the misdemeanor, resulting in a confused and insecure dog.
Is your home set up for your dog to be able to display affection. If you want it to cuddle next to you, is it allowed on the carpet under your feet, or even on the settee?
Does it spend all day with you and then get banished to the utility room at bedtime? Or is it allowed to sleep with you, under the covers, as long as its feet point toward your spouse?
7. Physiological reasons
We discussed advanced age above, but if a dog is not feeling well it will also change its behaviour. If a dog is in pain, it will avoid physical contact – this is one of the most common reasons why your dog won’t let you touch him anymore If you sense that this is the problem, consult your vet.
How to win back your dog’s affection
Your relationship with your dog is based on trust and maintained with consistent behaviour. You both need to know what to expect out of the relationship. Make the environment conducive to affection between the species, and reward the desired behaviour, with praise or a treat.
Try to understand your dog’s body language and be sensitive to its moods. Respect its boundaries and do not force your affections on it.
Grooming is a good way to bond with the dog, and regular brushing has the added benefit of preventing some of the dog hair from getting onto the furniture.
Spend time with your dog, doing activities that appeal to the dog, as well as to you.
Dogs can be the most loyal of pets, giving unquestioning and unconditional love to the most undeserving of people. But they can also be fickle with their affections. For example, have you ever heard of cupboard love? That’s where whoever opens the biscuit tin, gets all the dog’s attention.
They are also intelligent creatures with a range of emotions and long memories.
But when I dog withdraws his attention from you, it can be devastating. But there will always be a reason behind it, which most of the time can be fixed.
You might also like…
- Why do my dog’s teeth chatter so much?
- What are the very most basic things a dog needs to be happy?
- Why your dog has stopped answering to his name
Image in header via https://pixabay.com/photos/french-bulldog-puppy-from-the-rear-4301928/