You’ve had dogs all your life, and every dog you’ve ever had has been crazy about you — except this one. You recently rescued a dog from the shelter, and brought him home, thinking you were helping out the both of you. This dog is different, though — you feel certain that he just doesn’t like you.
Exactly how do you know whether a dog likes you? We have that answer and others just for you, so buckle in.
How do you know if a dog doesn’t like you?
While dogs are not as “deep” as people, they are as quirky. They are who they are, and they like what and who they like, and that’s that, but how do you know whether a dog likes you? Well, here are a few signs that show a dog does not like you very much.
If your dog doesn’t like you, he may avoid you in any number of ways. Here are a few examples.
He refuses to cuddle or play with you.
If your dog doesn’t cuddle with you, he may not like you. There is an even greater chance he doesn’t like you if he won’t play with you, as dogs love to play and usually will — with almost anybody.
Your dog refuses to make eye contact with you.
If your dog doesn’t care too much for you, he probably tracks your every movement with his eyes as if you cannot do anything bad to him as long as he keeps a watch on you. However, when you look his way, his eyes instinctively move away.
Refusing to make eye contact is a sign that your dog distrusts you, and given the choice of “fight or flight”, most dogs will most often choose flight. This means that he refuses to make eye contact, because the option is to stare you down.
He cowers or runs and hides.
Often, it is hard to tell the reason that a dog does not like you, but if your dog cowers or runs and hides under the bed or behind the couch, he is probably afraid of you for some reason.
You may know that you wouldn’t hurt him for love, nor money, but he has no way of knowing that. Anything could have triggered a fear response in his psyche.
When you enter a room, your dog leaves the room.
If your dog isn’t fond of you, he doesn’t want to be around you. You know, just like you don’t want to be around your mom’s new boyfriend or your weird uncle. To reiterate, dogs will try to avoid confrontation, if at all possible, and being in a separate room from you might seem like a start, at least right now.
He won’t even accept a treat from you.
Dogs love to eat, especially delicious treats, so, if your dog refuses you when you offer him a yummy treat, he may not trust you very much, and that’s why it seems he doesn’t like you. It is said that if a dog doesn’t trust you in a situation like this, you may see the whites of their eyes as they avoid the treat.
He shuns you to spend quality time with someone else.
If your dog ditches you to go cuddle and play with your husband, your kid, or worse, your neighbor, he probably isn’t too wild about you. Don’t take it personally. Remember that middle school crush? Really — looking back, aren’t you glad that didn’t work out? Seriously, some relationships just aren’t meant to be.
If your dog doesn’t like you, it may be because you make him feel anxious. Here are a few signs that your dog feels anxious when you’re around.
His body may stiffen up.
If your dog doesn’t feel comfortable around you, his body may stiffen up when you come around. Just as ours, as humans, are, the body language of dogs speaks volumes. If they stiffen up, it is a self-preservation mechanism that they are probably at least semi-unaware of.
Be wary of the signs of anxiety, though, as some of these same signs are signs of aggression, and sometimes, there is a very thin line between anxiety and aggression. Anxiety can make your dog more prone to aggression, as it can make your dog possess less patience and have a shorter fuse.
His hackles stand up.
When the hair on a dog’s spine and shoulders stands up, it’s a sign that he is feeling anxious or afraid. If he acts jittery or jumpy, like he’s nervous, that’s a bad sign, too. Dogs are like us when it comes to angst. It can present in the form of all manner of nervous ticks.
He yawns or licks his lips chronically.
Just as humans might tap their foot, twist their hair, or bite their nails, dogs might constantly yawn or lick their lips. These are just more in that long list of ticks I mentioned.
In extreme cases, dogs who have something against you may get aggressive, but know that this is not the norm. Usually, dogs will only become aggressive when they truly feel threatened.
Your dog may bark or growl at you.
If your dog feels threatened by you, he may bark or growl to tell you that he feels threatened by you. This is intended as a warning that he will become aggressive if you do not stop the threatening behavior. Under normal circumstances, dogs don’t attack unless they feel they have no other choice but to do so to defend themselves or protect their territory.
His fur stands up.
If your dog doesn’t like you, the hair on his spine and shoulders may stand on end. Your dog’s fur does this when he is angry or scared, and if you see this sign, pay attention, and watch yourself.
He hunches his back.
If your dog hunches his back or curves his back upward, be wary, as this can mean anything from he is scared to he is getting ready to attack you. It’s a gesture you should take very seriously.
He bares his teeth.
If your dog bares his teeth at you, this is a pretty sure sign that he doesn’t like you very much. Usually a combination of bared teeth and a growl that’s like a “zhzhzhzhzh” sound, this gesture is also a very serious one. When your dog does this, he means business. It’s a warning that he will attack if you do not take a less threatening posture, so do something different immediately.
It isn’t a common occurrence, but sometimes, if your dog doesn’t like you, or rather, more probably is intimidated by you, he may show it by being “submissive”. Some ways you’ll know if your dog is being submissive are if he approaches you with his tail down and ears back with his tail possibly wagging or looking at you with squinty eyes or blinking excessively.
By being submissive, your dog is using non-confrontational body gestures to convey that he wants a peaceful relationship.
Why doesn’t my dog like me?
It is impossible to know for sure why your dog doesn’t like you, as you cannot ask him directly. What you can do, however, is to think — OK, what could the problem be? Start with the most basic options and if none of those fit, work toward more complex answers until, hopefully, you figure it out. Here are a few hints about where to begin.
How is your body language toward your dog?
We don’t think much of it. By adulthood, we are so set in our ways that we don’t consider how “nice” or “friendly” we come across as. We just assume we are “fine”, but to our dog, it could be that we aren’t doing fine.
The simplest things can appear as signs of aggression to a dog: towering over him, narrowing our eyes, or bearing our teeth. Many dogs who have been adopted from shelters are particularly susceptible to becoming afraid or intimidated by such actions and may act erratically depending upon their experience.
Are you being too rough with him?
Most puppies and young dogs love a little rough play, but for some dogs, you can get too rough. For instance, most dogs hate leashes anyway. So, if you bully your dog by tugging and pulling him around by his leash when you walk him, he is not going to be very happy about it.
Also, corporal punishment (hitting) or harsh scolding to “teach” them something is wrong can make them afraid, plus it has been proven not to be very effective in dogs. On the other hand, positive reinforcement and rewarding are the best, most effective teaching methods. Be gentle, patient, and loving with your dog.
Are you violating his personal space?
For us, it may be that we don’t want anyone touching us at all. Some, however, don’t mind much, as long as you don’t touch their “sacred” spaces. My point is that we all have our personal boundaries set in our minds. We know how far others can go with us before crossing a line they cannot come back from.
Maybe you are touching your dog inappropriately without even realizing it. To you, it’s only his ears or tail, and you’re having fun with him. The trouble is that he might not be having very much fun. He may instead be feeling quite violated and aggravated with you.
Hugging him can also make him feel this way — only more so. Some dogs don’t mind being hugged at all, but others, when they are hugged, feel as though they are being restrained or bound. If you hug your dog often, start watching his reactions, and unless he quite obviously enjoys it, you might try stopping it for a while. Try a scratch on his head or on his chest between his two front legs instead.
Do you play tricks on your dog?
When I was a child, I knew people who would put aluminum foil on all four of a dog’s or cat’s feet and watch them prance around. When they would step down, I suppose it felt so funny that they wanted to lift the paw back off the ground, but they couldn’t get all four paws off the ground at once.
Yes, it was funny to watch, but think how those poor animals felt. This type of thing can surely build distrust between you and your dog. You cannot harass your poor dog for your own amusement and still expect him to be your best friend.
This was mild compared to some of the awful things people do to their pets now, and they post it on the internet for the whole world to see. It’s ridiculous. Your pet will never like you if you cannot treat him with basic decency and respect.
Do you take his history into account?
When dealing with him on a regular basis, do you take into account his history? For example, if your dog is a shelter rescue, are you aware of his reason for being there. What has he been through? Has he been neglected or possibly worse, abused?
You are normally dealing with a dog who is fearful in these situations, and it is usually for one of these four reasons.
A traumatic experience for your dog can be anything from him being in a car accident to falling through the ice while walking across a frozen pond. Just as in humans, a dog’s mind may deal with trauma in any of a multitude of ways. Shelter rescue dogs are usually not strangers to trauma, so this is a common theme among them, and these dogs may need extra patience, warmth, and comfort, while others, though they may need comforting, may not want to be touched.
Trauma is the type of issue you have to deal with on a case-by-case basis, because every dog is unique, as are their trauma and their road to recovery.
While trauma doesn’t necessarily have to be abuse, abuse is necessarily traumatic for any victim, whether human, dog or any being. Dogs that have been beaten or worse have quite a difficult time ever trusting anyone again. If you know or suspect your dog has been abused, you may want to see a board-certified veterinary behaviorist (also called a diplomate).
A diplomate may be able to help your dog work past these feelings and come to understand that you are a different person who only has his very best interests at heart.
Do you know how a particular scent can take you back to another time and place? Well, negative association is sort of like that. Something serves as a trigger, but it takes your dog back to a bad memory of some kind. It could be something as simple as your dog smelling what you cooked for supper and remembering that is what his “neglecter” cooked himself for supper as he let your dog go for his 3rd day in a row without food.
When your dog smells that scent, he associates it with starving while he smells delicious food nearby. This negative association can make for a distrustful dog. Even if you feed him regularly, he can associate that aroma so closely with how horrible it felt for his stomach to be empty for 3 days in a row, growling and producing bile, making his mouth taste bad, and since you are creating the aroma, he will now relate it all to you, simply because of a negative association.
Social Skills Deficit
Puppies need their mothers for at least 2 months (8 weeks), but longer is better. This is the time when they are nurtured and weaned, but this is also the crucial time when they are taught to interact well with others. When, for whatever reason, a puppy is removed before this time, he often has trouble being around others because he has not had the opportunity to learn the skills vital to healthy socialization.
How to get my dog to like me?
In most cases, the best thing to do to get your dog to start liking you is to do absolutely nothing. Just carry on with your life, and stop stressing over it. Most dogs, under most circumstances, will come around if you simply give them room to breathe. Stop trying so hard.
Consider how it is with people in your life. How do you think of them? When people try too, too hard, don’t you start wondering what their ulterior motives are? Don’t you begin to distrust them a bit? When we push ourselves onto dogs who aren’t ready to be best buddies, they react in much the same way.
If you just go about your business and quit fawning over him, he will most likely come around eventually looking to regain all that attention. In rare cases, however, there’s no remedy for a dog that doesn’t like you. He just doesn’t like you, and he is never going to like you.
In normal cases, there are a couple of basics you may want to ponder. One, maybe your dog loves you but hates your best friend. He may learn to like her, but sometimes, the chemistry between two beings just isn’t right, so just know that your dog is not different from you — he will have unique feelings for each individual in his life.
Two, the hand that rocks your dog’s cradle rules his world. For instance, if another person feeds, plays with, bathes, grooms, walks, trains, teaches, and rewards your dog, giving him treats and toys, you are not going to be your dog’s best friend. Your dog only knows you love him by your actions. To him, your words mean nothing.
Three, and last, do not ever punish your dog for his negative behavior toward you. You won’t teach him any positive behaviors by doing this, and besides, professionals say that you will actually only worsen your situation. The best thing to do is to consult a board-certified veterinary behaviorist.