Why Won’t My Puppy Cuddle With Me? (Answered By Trainer)

puppy not cuddling their owner

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When we get a new puppy, one of the first things we usually want to do is engage in a good cuddle session and begin the bonding process.

One of the best parts of having a puppy is the comfort and peace cuddling with them brings us, and how it can help facilitate a better relationship between us and our new family member.

For humans, cuddling and physical contact is one of our primary methods of showing affection, but for dogs it’s not as common so those cuddle sessions that we would love to have with our pups don’t always happen.

But why might that be? Why might some puppies not want to cuddle?

Your puppy may not want to cuddle with you because it is uncomfortable or is under-socialized. Your puppy may also be preoccupied with something else in the environment, or they may be feeling unwell. Puppies also have their own ideas of personal space, so it could just be that they aren’t big on cuddling!

In the article below we’ll look at some of the most likely reasons as to why your puppy isn’t interested in cuddling with you, and what you can do to help create that interest in cuddling.

We’ll also discuss when and if puppies become more affectionate with age, and if it’s a bad thing if your puppy is not interested in cuddling with you or showing affection towards you.

7 Reasons Why Your Puppy Won’t Cuddle With You

If you’ve recently gotten a new puppy, and they aren’t as cuddly as you expected them to be, it could be due to one of several reasons.

Reason #1: Your Puppy Isn’t Well Socialized

One of the most likely reasons your puppy is not wanting to cuddle with you is because they are anxious or afraid of being in close contact with you.

Dogs go through what is called a critical period of socialization between the ages of 3 and 16 weeks. What occurs with your puppy during this time will shape their behaviors and personalities permanently, so it’s important to socialize them and create positive associations with everything within their environment.

If your puppy did not receive enough socialization during this critical period, they may not want to cuddle with you because they are fearful or anxious about being in close proximity to you. If you attempt to cuddle with them, they may struggle to get free or run away from you in your attempts to pick them up.

Alternatively, fear can also show itself by your puppy freezing in place and tucking his tail underneath his body as tight as it will go when you try to pick him up. He may even pee a little bit or show other fearful body language and behaviors.

Unfortunately, if your puppy is past that period of critical socialization, it can be challenging to change their fearful association with people, but not impossible.

This is especially true if your puppy is still in the tail end of the critical socialization period, or they have not yet hit sexual maturity.

Making sure every interaction you have with your puppy is a positive one rather than a fearful one will help him gradually learn to be comfortable in your presence.

He may never truly feel comfortable cuddling with you, but at the very least you are helping him develop more confidence in himself.

Reason #2: Your Puppy Is Preoccupied With Something Else

If your puppy normally cuddles with you but is suddenly disinterested in cuddling with you, it could be because they are preoccupied with something else that’s more interesting to them.

If you have guests over or if your significant other is cooking up a steak in the kitchen, your puppy might rather go and investigate those things than settle down and cuddle with you.

Puppies have very short attention spans (though this gets better with age!) and are naturally very curious, so if something interesting has caught their eye (or nose!) they are pretty likely to want to investigate it rather than cuddle with you, even if they usually are quite happy to have some cuddle time.

If you let your pup go and check out whatever or whoever it was that holds their interest, it might satisfy their curiosity and they will return shortly to cuddle with you.

Reason #3: Your Puppy Has Too Much Energy

Most puppies tend to be quite energetic, and if you are trying to cuddle with your puppy while they are experiencing that high energy, it’s unlikely they’ll want to sit and cuddle with you.

Depending on the age and breed of your puppy, these high energy bursts may be quite short, or they may last for quite a while and require more effort on your end to tire your pup out.

Asking an energetic puppy to sit still and cuddle is like asking a child who is full of energy to sit down and do their homework. They just can’t do it!

And, if they do manage to quiet down, it’s usually only temporary and it may result in your pup (or your child) getting quite frustrated and upset.

Letting your puppy work out his energy in a healthy manner first will not only help tire him out for an extended period of cuddling but will also help strengthen the bond you have with your puppy and result in a happier, healthier puppy overall.

Reason #4: Your Puppy Is Sick Or Injured

If your puppy tends to be a fairly cuddly pup, but they are suddenly uninterested in cuddling with you, then it may be because they are feeling unwell or have an injury.

While some puppies can be very vocal if they are feeling sick, others may show signs and symptoms in a much more subtle manner, and this includes being uninterested in things that previously enjoyed.

If you suspect your puppy is avoiding cuddle time because they aren’t well, you should probably schedule an appointment with your vet to get them checked out, especially if they are showing other signs of being unwell, such as lethargy or a sudden disinterest in their food or toys.

Once your pup is feeling better, they’ll be back to cuddling with you in no time!

Reason #5: You Did Something To Upset Your Puppy

While dogs cannot hold grudges and have no understanding of certain human emotions like spite or intentional ill will (at least not in the way that we hold grudges and feel spite), they can be upset in other ways and your puppy may not want to cuddle with you because you unknowingly upset them in some way.

Did you recently do something with your puppy that he found unpleasant, such as a bath or a nail trim?

When you seek him out to cuddle, he may mistakenly think you are going to do those things to him again and will try to avoid you in protest. Once he discovers that you are asking him to do something he finds pleasant instead, it’s likely he’ll settle down and cuddle with you.

Your puppy may also be “upset” with you if you smell bad to them and will avoid you until you get rid of whatever scent is bothering them…and it’s often not the stink you think it would be!

Many dogs find strong colognes, chemical smells, or acidic smells irritating and your puppy may avoid cuddling with you if you have any of these smells on you.

Reason #6: Your Puppy’s Breed Is Not Generally Cuddly

Every puppy should be treated as an individual as each one will have their own likes and dislikes, but there are a few breeds of dogs who tend to be less cuddly than others.

Toy breeds, such as the Yorkshire Terrier and the Lhasa Apso, can be quite cuddly and affectionate, whereas a working dog such as the Akita or Great Pyrenees might be more standoffish and be less interested in cuddling with their owners for long periods of time.

A lot of these breed preferences for cuddling are related to genetics and what the breed was originally created for, but genetics only play part of the role in a puppy’s personality and their cuddle preferences.

Socialization, personal experiences, and individual personalities will also play a role in how cuddly your puppy may be, even if they are of a breed that is not known for being super cuddly.

Reason #7: Your Puppy Is Just Not Interested In Cuddling!

Sometimes your puppy may not want to cuddle with you for the sole reason that they are just not into cuddling.

Just like people, puppies can have their own ideas for what they consider a safe and comfortable distance with their owners or other people.

Some puppies are happy to always be up close and personal, whereas others may not be into that.

If your puppy is not cuddling with you in the way that you’d like, that’s OK! It’s important to respect your puppy’s boundaries and not force him into cuddling with you if he does not want to.

Do Puppies Like To Cuddle?

While individual puppies may enjoy and even seek out hugs and cuddles from their owners (especially if they are younger puppies who are still going through the socialization period), in general most dogs do not view hugs and cuddle time as their human counterparts may view them.

Because dogs use body language as one of their primary communication devices, being too physical and clingy can actually be considered rude to some dogs and limits their ability to properly communicate or understand certain pieces of more subtle body language, such as a weight shift, where their ears are positioned, or what their eyes are doing.

Puppies may be more tolerant to cuddles than an adult dog, but they should never be forced to cuddle or be given a hug unless they want to.

At best they may tolerate the cuddles, but at worst it could cause them to react aggressively if they feel trapped in the hug or cuddle, or they may run away from the owner in the future to avoid any chances of the owner forcing them into a cuddle session.

This happens frequently with children who are still learning how to interact with puppies and dogs, so parents should help their children understand appropriate boundaries with the family pup in order to keep everyone happy and safe.

Is It Bad If My Puppy Won’t Cuddle With Me?

As every puppy has their own preference and reasons for not wanting to cuddle (either temporary or permanent), it’s not a bad thing if your puppy won’t cuddle with you.

The exception to this is if your puppy not wanting to cuddle with you is due to a health or behavioral reason. If your puppy doesn’t want to cuddle with you because they are feeling unwell or are injured, then you should get them checked out by their vet as soon as possible.

If your puppy is not wanting to cuddle with you because they have poor socialization skills, you should reach out to a local dog trainer as soon as possible to begin working on your puppy’s socialization skills as these skills will begin to affect more than just their cuddle preferences.

Otherwise, your puppy not wanting to cuddle is probably nothing to worry about and they shouldn’t be forced to cuddle if they don’t want to.

They may come around with age or with more exposure to different people, and you may even find them suddenly becoming more affectionate as they develop good social skills and create positive associations with your presence. Only time will tell!

At What Age Do Puppies Become Affectionate?

Puppies can become affectionate at various stages of puppyhood, or they may never become affectionate at all.

There are so many variables and factors that could influence a puppy’s level of affection that it’s almost impossible to say exactly when (or if) your puppy will become more affectionate and interested in cuddling with you.

Prior to and during the period of critical socialization, a puppy is generally more reliant upon their owner and thus may seem more affectionate and “clingy”, but this behavior may dissipate based on their experiences (or lack of experiences) during this learning period.

Will My Puppy Become More Affectionate With Age?

This also depends on the individual puppy, and it’s impossible to say if your puppy will become more affectionate with age.

Some puppies may become more affectionate with age; however, the majority of dogs begin to become more independent and less reliant on their owner as they age.

Upon reaching sexual maturity and the adolescent period, which can vary by breed and size, but which generally occurs from 6 to 10 months, a puppy’s level of affection may also change.

During this time, puppies generally become much more confident in themselves and their surroundings, and thus may appear “standoff-ish” or aloof in comparison to how they were during their critical socialization period.

It really comes down to the individual dog and your puppy may show various levels of affection throughout puppyhood and even into adulthood.

Can I Teach My Puppy To Be More Affectionate?

While you can’t really change your puppy’s personality and make them more affectionate and interested in cuddling if they aren’t already, you CAN work on improving their socialization skills and their bond with you, which can indirectly affect how likely they are to want to be in your presence and may encourage them to cuddle with you.

Training, playing games, and even taking your pup on a walk are all great ways of bonding with your puppy and increasing their affection for you.

This may not directly result in your puppy seeking you out for a cuddle session, but it could increase their interest in seeking you out if they are feeling anxious, lonely, scared, or ill.

Working on socializing your puppy and creating positive associations with everyone and everything in their immediate environment will also help create confidence in your puppy and they will become more tolerant and less likely to react negatively when you are seeking them out for a quick cuddle.

Closing Thoughts

If your puppy isn’t cuddling with you as much as you would like, then you can work towards figuring out why that might be and then see if it’s something that can be worked on to encourage your puppy to be more affectionate.

For the most part dogs just aren’t as interested in cuddling and physical affection like we humans are, though you may encounter the occasional pup who doesn’t mind the contact as much.

It’s important to remember to never force our pups to cuddle or be affectionate with us, and to respect their personal space.

Just like people, some puppies need a little more space than others!