If your dog has been backing away, when you try to pet it, you might be wondering why and what you can do about it. This post will show you a number of possible causes and what you can do to get it to stop.

So, why does my dog back away when I pet him? Possible reasons why your dog has been backing away, when you pet it, are that it is fearful, you pet it too hard, it has an injury or that it thinks you’re going to do something such as pick it up.

Since there are a number of possible causes, it would help to consider what would make each of them more likely. Once you have a good idea of the main cause, it should become a lot easier to get it to stop.

Why your dog backs away when you pet it

Below are a number of possible reasons why your dog has been doing it and what would make each of them more likely to be the main reason.

Fearfulness

The reason why it backs away could be that it is fearful. The reason why it is fearful could be because you have been interacting with it too aggressively. It would help to be calm with your dog and to try to use positive reinforcement training to get it to behave the way you want as opposed to using fear-based tactics.

Petting it to hard

It might be the case that you have been petting it too forcefully and your dog is backing away because it does not like it. This would be more likely if it also does things such as duck its head and if it does it more when you pet it in a more forceful manner.

Injury

The cause could be that it has an injury and that the act of petting your dog is causing it to be in pain. This would be more likely if your dog has started doing it suddenly and if it has been showing other signs of being injured such as limping. In this case, the best option would be to take it to a vet.

Anxiety

The cause could be that it is anxious. It might think that you are petting it for a reason such as to pick it up and take it somewhere. This would be more likely if you only typically go to pet it when you want to pick it up.

Things to consider

Below are some things to consider when figuring out the main reason why it does it.

What else happened when it first started

If your dog did not always back away, when you pet it, it would help to consider what else happened when it first started doing it. If it started doing it suddenly, it might be due to an injury or something causing it to be anxious.

What is different when your dog does not back away

If it does not always back away, when you try to pet it, it would also help to consider what is different when it does not back away. For example, if it does not do it when you approach it slowly, it could be the case that it backs away sometimes due to being intimidated.

The body language it shows

It would also help to consider the body language it shows when it does it. If it shows signs of being anxious such as crying, trying to avoid you or making itself appear smaller, it would be more likely that it is doing it due to things such as being pet too hard or being intimidated. Whereas, if it seems relaxed when it does it, the cause could be that it just does not like being pet.

What to do about your dog backing away when you pet it

Below are some options you have when getting your dog to stop doing it.

Ensure that it is not due to an injury

If your dog has started doing it suddenly and it seems like it could be due to an injury or you cannot figure out why it has been doing it, the best option would be to take it to a vet. By doing so, you should be able to get expert advice tailored towards your dog and to rule out injury as a cause.

Be calm with it

As mentioned above, it might be the case that you have been doing it too aggressively. When interacting with your dog it would help to be calm and not too forceful.

Positive reinforcement training

Positive reinforcement training is where you train your dog to behave in a certain way by giving it things that it wants when it behaves correctly.

To use it to get it to stop backing away you would reward it when it does not back away, with a treat, and stop rewarding it when it starts backing away. 

This post may contain affiliate links. Petdogowner may be paid a commission from the companies mentioned in this post. This has no effect on the price that you pay and we are very grateful for any support.

Most Recommended For Dogs

Best Dog Training Program

Our favorite: The Dunbar Academy Training Program - If you want a happy and obedient dog, this is one of the best online dog training programs available right now. You can get the first month free using This link.

Best Dog Treats

Our favorites: N-Bone Puppy Teething Ring (on Amazon) - Great for puppies. American Journey Dog Treats (on Amazon) - Great for adult dogs.

Author

I created and currently manage Pet Dog Owner, the website you can go to when you have questions about your dog's behavior. It is my hope that you find Pet Dog Owner to be a helpful resource. It is also my hope that it will help you to improve your relationship with your dog. You can read more about me and my website here.