I’m A Vet: Here’s How To Get Your Dog To Cuddle With You

small terrier dog cuddling with owner in the afternoon

Spending an evening cuddled up on the couch with your dog is the perfect way to bond and unwind with your furry buddy at the end of a long day!

But not all dogs are immediately very cuddly and some dogs may not seem to like cuddling at all, much to the frustration of their owners.

Luckily, most dogs just need a little bit of help realizing that cuddle time is actually great!

To encourage your dog to cuddle, it’s important to understand their reluctance, which may stem from insufficient socialization, breed characteristics, or individual preference.

Encourage cuddling by choosing calm moments, understanding and respecting your dog’s body language, and employing positive reinforcement.

Treats can motivate hesitant dogs, creating positive associations with cuddling.

Always respect your dog’s boundaries, avoid force, and keep cuddle sessions brief to accommodate their comfort level. Recognizing and adapting to your dog’s needs and signals can gradually increase their willingness to cuddle, fostering a closer bond between you and your pet.

In the article below, we’ll take a closer look at each step to set you and your pup up for success. But first, we need to make sure why understand why dogs may not be eager to cuddle in the first place.

Why Doesn’t My Dog Want To Cuddle With Me?

Before we start talking about how to get our dogs to cuddle with us, we must first discuss why our pups may not be interested in cuddling.

For the most part, socialization is the key component as to whether our dogs want to cuddle with us or not.

Puppies who do not receive appropriate socialization and physical contact during their critical socialization period may have a harder time cuddling with their owners due to fear and anxiety about being touched.

Breed can also play a role in a dog’s interest in cuddling. Certain breeds, such as Shiba Inus and livestock guardian dogs, are traditionally more aloof than many other breeds.

And in some situations, it could just be your pup’s personal preference! Just like people, not all dogs will want to cuddle with their owners.

5 Techniques To Encourage Your Dog To Cuddle

Now that we’ve learned why some dogs may not enjoy cuddling, let’s talk about some ways you can help encourage your dog to cuddle with you.

1. Pick Your Moment

When trying to convince your dog to cuddle with you, make sure that you choose a moment that is conducive for cuddling.

This is particularly important in the beginning when teaching your dog that cuddling is a good thing that they should look forward to and seek out.

Forcing your dog to cuddle when they are not in the mood can easily turn them off to the whole concept of cuddling, so make sure you are mindful of any stress signals your pup is giving off.

While this can vary depending on the individual dog, some of the best times to start cuddling are in the evening after dinner when everyone is relaxing or after a bit of strenuous exercise when you are both tired.

Trying to cuddle when your dog has too much energy, is too focused on something else, or while they are trying to chew on a bone or play on their own with a toy can cause frustration and even irritation in your dog, so it’s best to choose a different time.

2. Keep Calm

Similar to choosing the perfect moment, you also want to make sure you are choosing a time to cuddle where both you and your pup feel at ease and calm.

Dogs are extremely in tune with our emotions, picking up on our feelings even when we may not be consciously demonstrating them.

3. Pay Attention To Body Language

Body language is one of the primary ways in which a dog communicates, and the meaning behind certain body language often contradicts what we humans understand about our own bodies.

While humans may assume that direct eye contact, a forward approach, and lots of physical touch are all appropriate ways in which to interact with someone we know and trust, it may not be the same for our pups.

Dogs are more comfortable with a lack of eye contact, a curved approach, and a gentler touch (or even no touch at all) when they interact with us.

If we are giving off body language that signals something other than relaxation or cuddle time, our dogs may avoid us due to the miscommunication.

Similarly, if our dogs are giving off signals that they aren’t interested in cuddling and we attempt to force it, it could result in our dogs becoming upset.

4. Be Positive

This is supposed to be fun! You have to teach your dog to love to cuddle, and that means motivating them to learn.

Positive reinforcement is known to be the best way to condition, train, and teach dogs. Ensuring that each interaction you have with your dog is positive is the absolute best way to get them to cuddle with you.

Treats are a great way to reward your dog for showing interest in cuddling with you, especially if you have a pup who is more hesitant to cuddle. Over time, they’ll learn that interacting with you always leads to something good happening, so they’ll want to continue to do it.

Eventually you can fade out the treats once your dog is showing a genuine love of cuddling with you.

5. Respect Boundaries

As we do with people, it’s also important to understand and respect the boundaries of our dogs. You don’t ever want to push your pup beyond their current comfort zone.

If you do, at best they’ll become wary of you and more avoidant of situations in which they must interact with you. At worst, disrespecting a dog’s boundaries and ignoring their stress signals can cause them to bite.

If you are cuddling with your dog and they struggle and try to leave, it’s usually best to just let them go and not attempt to restrain them.

You can work on fixing that issue by going back to rewarding them with treats every time you ask them to cuddle with you (making sure you keep the cuddle sessions extremely short at first).

Keeping cuddle sessions short in general is a good idea, especially for dogs who are fearful or anxious about physical contact.

The best thing you can do is just be mindful of your dog’s feelings.

If they seem content to lay with you, then by all means let them!

But if they appear stressed, anxious, fearful, or just don’t seem interested in sitting still, then it’s probably a good idea to let them do their own thing.

Closing Thoughts

It’s a common misconception that all dogs enjoy cuddling with their owners, so it’s important to be mindful of your own dog’s feelings regarding this. You should never force your pup into a cuddle session, nor should you try and restrain them or punish them if they attempt to leave.

If you’d like to encourage your dog to cuddle with you more, the best thing to do is to educate yourself on dog body language and positive reinforcement training methods.

Those two things alone can help strengthen the bond between you and your pup, which will carry over into your cuddle sessions!

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