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Both humans and dogs tend to be very social creatures, and we want to make sure that we are doing the best we can for our four-legged friends at all times. But we also sometimes worry that we aren’t doing enough, and we might fear that Fido is becoming bored with us and losing interest in hanging out with us. But do dogs get tired of their owners?
Dogs do not get tired of their owners, but they can become overwhelmed and stressed out when their owners don’t give them time to relax. Individual dogs have their own needs and may require more or less interactions with their owners to avoid becoming stressed out.
While your dog will never truly tire of you and want you gone, they can become overwhelmed and stressed out in certain situations if their needs are going unmet or they are being asked to go beyond their current physical or mental capabilities.
We’ll take a look at a few situations below that tend to stress dogs out. We’ll also discuss how you can tell if your pup is starting to get stressed out and what you can do to help them out.
7 Times When A Dog Might Get Tired Of Their Owner
Even though it’s true that a dog will never tire of their owner in the same way a person may tire of another person, they can become stressed out to the point they start showing agitation towards their owners. This could be as simple as running away and hiding from their owner, or it could be as extreme as snapping at their owner or showing other threatening behaviors.
Over time, this stress could build into long term behavioral or physical ailments that require professional intervention. It’s important to remember that every dog is an individual and has their own individual tolerance for certain stressors. Dogs may also tolerate one stressor more than another.
A dog’s experiences throughout their life and their genetics also play a role in how they respond to certain stressful situations and how well they may tolerate certain situations. In general, though, your pup may begin to tire of you and show signs of stress if repeatedly placed in the following situations…
1. You’ve Ignored Your Dog’s Need For Space
While some dogs do love to cuddle, for many it’s not something they naturally crave or enjoy. Unlike people, who tend to enjoy physical touch, canines prefer the opposite and will actually utilize space to aid in communication and de-escalation techniques when things start to get out of hand.
While humans can use speech to indicate when they are feeling uncomfortable and need some space to relax, dogs try to use more subtle body language in the hopes their humans will respond and let them be. When a person doesn’t see this body language (or actively ignores it), the dog may give stronger signals, such as a snarl, growl, or even a snap.
For extremely tolerant dogs, or dogs who tend to shut down or who have been severely punished in the past for showing their discomfort with not having their space respected, this stress can continue to build up and cause lasting trauma to the dog.
So, as much as we may want to cuddle and spend time with our pups, it’s important to also be respectful of their space and give them breaks if they ask for them. Our dogs may tire of us constantly seeking out cuddles or kisses and this may be irritating at best and a potential bite at worst.
We can work to be respectful of the wants and needs of our dogs and educate ourselves on when a dog says, “that’s enough”. By working to understand what a dog’s body is saying, we can create more streamlined communication between us and our pups.
2. You’ve Misinterpreted Your Dog’s Signals
Contrary to popular belief, dogs are quite complex in their communication styles! Just not in the way humans are used to. Humans communicate primarily through speech, whereas dogs communicate primarily through body language including movements, weight shifts, eye shifts, ear locations, tail locations, and even muscle twitches.
Dogs also utilize various vocalizations and behaviors such as sneezing, huffing, licking, and yawning to communicate an emotional state. There’s a lot to understand with dog language, so it’s no surprise that sometimes we mix up the information they are trying to tell us!
This can often lead to stress or frustration on the dog’s part, which in turn can stress out or frustrate the owner, leading to a continuous cycle of stress and frustration that builds and builds over time. All from a simple miscommunication!
If you find that your dog seems to be “tiring” of you and he starts responding slower, tunes you out completely, or develops an “attitude”, it may be that a miscommunication occurred at some point.
Thankfully, this is an easy error to fix with the help of a good dog trainer who can help translate what your dog is trying to tell you and who can help fix the communication issues within your household.
Education is one of the most powerful tools at your disposal when working with dogs, and once you’ve addressed the root cause of the miscommunication with your pup, it’s likely you’ll be back on track to a happy, harmonious relationship once again, with no risk of your dog becoming tired of hanging out with you!
3. You’ve Asked Your Dog To Do Something They Don’t Like
Dogs are individuals and some like to do certain things more than others. As a trainer, I often encounter owners who have all these grand ideas of wanting to take their dog to dog-friendly breweries, on marathon runs, or for long backpacking trips.
The common complaint is that their dog just doesn’t seem interested in hanging out with them. When I do my evaluation, my usual conclusion is that their dog just isn’t interested in the types of activities that their owner is interested in.
Unfortunately, as much as we would love to share our favorite activities with our dogs (and I’m sure our dogs try to share in our favorite activities as much as they can as well), sometimes it just isn’t the right fit and no amount of training will get a dog to truly enjoy certain activities.
Genetics play a large part in this, as do individual personalities. The environment and experiences a dog has during their critical socialization period play an important role in what they perceive as enjoyable as an adult, too, and has a lifelong impact on their reaction to certain experiences and situations.
If your dog appears to be tiring of you, it might be because you are attempting to “force” them into doing something that doesn’t match up with what they enjoy, or are interested in. At this point, you have to ask yourself if it is worth it (or even humane) to try and force your pup into participating in an activity that stresses them out solely because you want to experience it with them.
The exception to this is if what you are asking your dog to is something normal like going for a walk, getting into a car, or getting a nail trim, and your dog’s avoidance is related more to a training issue.
A local trainer can help you determine the root cause of your dog’s avoidance and frustration with certain activity-related stressors, and help you decide whether it’s an avoidance-behavior that can be corrected with training or if it’s related more to a dog’s individual personality and unique wants and needs.
Just remember to listen to your dog, and make sure you are choosing what’s best for your pup, even if that means you might not get to do the things you originally thought you’d be able to do with them.
4. Your Dog Has Nowhere To Relax
Most people are able to go to another room, area, or even just plug in some headphones and tune out from the world for a minute to relax and recharge their batteries. Dogs can’t do that.
If your dog is constantly bombarded with sights, sounds, smells, and activity around her, and you don’t give her the opportunity for rest and relaxation and continuously push her to accompany you places or engage with people, then she may begin showing signs of “tiring” of you.
I see this happen a lot at businesses that allow employees to bring their dogs to work. While it’s absolutely fantastic that we can bring our pups to work with us (and I wish more places offered this opportunity!), it’s better to do it in small doses.
Some owners would bring their dogs day in, day out and while some dogs didn’t mind, for others spending 40 hours a week in the office was just too much for them to handle. They became irritated, snappy, and showed clear signs of stress and anxiety.
These dogs were more sensitive to the constant hubbub of a busy pet business, and they couldn’t handle all the excitement and the constant stream of information and stimuli being thrown at them with no breaks.
Their owners reported them becoming more and more reluctant to leave the house to go to work with them, and some began avoiding their owners completely in the mornings.
Paying attention to our individual dog’s needs and providing them with opportunities to take breaks and have appropriate areas to relax is important to ensure that they are not overwhelmed or overstimulated at any point, even if that means leaving them at home.
5. Your Dog Is Ill or Injured
When you are feeling sick or have an injury of some kind, chances are that you want to be left alone. Your dog feels the same way when they aren’t feeling well, too!
If your dog is feeling under the weather, or if they are recovering from an injury, surgery, or even just a bad experience such as a scuffle at the dog park, they might rather be left well enough alone than engage with you. It might appear that your dog is tiring of you, but in reality, they may just need a small break to recover and “lick their wounds”, so to speak.
Dogs can be pretty good at hiding illness and injuries, so if you suspect your pup is acting out of the ordinary, keep a close eye on them and schedule an appointment with your vet as soon as possible.
Trying to push your dog when they aren’t feeling up to it could create an even worse problem, or your dog may react abnormally, resulting in a bite.
Allowing your dog to rest and regain their strength rather than push them into hanging out with you means they will come back stronger than ever and be more interested in participating in the activities that you previously enjoyed together.
6. You’ve Done Something To Upset Your Dog
One day both you and your dog were having a great time, then the next day your dog wouldn’t give you the time of day. You have to wonder; did you do something to upset your dog?
The answer is…maybe!
If your dog is acting like he’s suddenly tired of you, it could be because you (unintentionally) did something to upset him. Just like children, dogs can become “upset” for all kinds of reasons.
Nail trim? Upsetting. Dinner was late last night? Upsetting. New boyfriend moved into the house? Upsetting.
These reasons may be silly to us, and while our pups aren’t truly upset with us, they may not want to engage with us for a bit, so it’s best to let them be (you can also try apologizing to them!).
Usually, they’ll get over whatever it was that upset them pretty quickly, but with some things, such as nail trims or if the behavior is accompanied by other, more concerning behaviors such as resource guarding, you may need to enlist the help of a trainer.
7. You’ve Hurt Your Dog
Most owners go out of their way to avoid hurting their pups (unfortunately dogs do not really return the favor), but occasionally it does happen. Paws get beneath feet in busy households, tails get accidentally shut in doors, or you get scared and yell at your puppy who you see about to stick his tongue on the hot burner on the stove, in turn scaring him away.
Dogs are all about associations, and they are quick to create those associations. If it appears your dog is tiring of you, and you can recall recently hurting your dog in some way (either by physically hurting him, or by scaring him in some way), then he may be “tiring” of you because he is afraid of you now.
Depending on the age of your dog and how traumatizing the experience was, your dog may bounce back quickly and after a few days return to his old self.
Some dogs may require positive reinforcement and the intervention of a trainer to help change the negative association they have with you into a positive one.
Using reward-based training methods can help speed up this process and help your dog overcome any fear they have associated with your presence.
How Can I Tell If My Dog Is Getting Tired Of Me?
The best way to determine if your dog is starting to get tired of you is to see what type of body language they are displaying. Dogs communicate primarily through their body, and it usually starts off very subtle.
They may avoid eye contact with you or turn away from you when you approach. They may stiffen or tense their muscles when you go to reach for their collar. They may yawn or back away from you or show other less energetic behaviors than what they normally do when you engage with them.
If you continue to push, they may progress to more threatening behaviors, such as tension in the face and muzzle, hard eyes, short lips, perhaps a snarl or a low growl. You shouldn’t ever push your dog to this point, but if you get to this point, you should back off immediately before you dog bites. Stress in dogs can vary from mild to extreme.
Be on the lookout for panting, pacing, whining, yawning, avoidance behaviors, tension, restlessness, short tempers, chewing (either of their body or of objects around the house), digging, unusual vocalizations, or really anything out of the ordinary for your pup.
Stress and anxiety can present itself differently in different dogs, so knowing how your dog acts on a daily basis is important so you can be quick to notice if anything suddenly changes.
If they are displaying any behaviors that could indicate they are sick or injured, you should reach out to your veterinarian for a consultation.
What Do I Do If My Dog Is Getting Tired Of Me?
Prevention is the best medicine, so ensuring that your dog always receives plenty of breaks in-between your activities is key.
Paying attention to their body language and respecting their boundaries and needs is also an important part of responsible pet ownership. Educating yourself on dog body language is a good idea and will help you understand your four-legged friend better.
If your pup is feeling under the weather, if they are aging or not able to do the activities that you enjoy, you can look into alternative activities that you both can do. Puzzle toys and interactive dog toys are always a great way to have fun with your dog.
Nosework is another great activity and is something that ALL dogs can do, of any age, size, breed, gender, or physical capability.
If you find that your pup is starting to “tire” of you, take stock of your dog’s environment and see what you can do to help create a more relaxing environment. Perhaps invest in a new bed that offers more support, or some new toys that can bring back some excitement.
It might also be time to think about reducing the amount of activity you are asking of your aging dog, or about how your dog just isn’t into the new sport you just got into.
And that’s totally OK! One of the great things about having dogs is that they are usually pretty down with trying out most things with their owners, as long as you show them respect and listen to them if they “tell” you they need a break or aren’t interested.
While we don’t have to worry about our dogs getting tired of us, we should worry about stressing our dogs out or not listening to their needs or wants.
As responsible pet parents, it’s our job to make sure that we are providing for our dogs to the best of our abilities, and that includes making sure we are listening to them.
We can work towards limiting the amount of stress we put on our dogs and educate ourselves on how we can understand what our dogs are trying to communicate with us.
By doing so, we can create a happier, more harmonious relationship with our pups, and we can guarantee our pups won’t get tired of us anytime soon!