If your dog does not like it when you pet it, you might be wondering why and what you can do about it. This post will show you five common reasons why dogs don’t like being pet and what you can do to get it to stop.

So, why does my dog not like being pet? Possible reasons why your dog does not like being pet are injury, intimidation, petting it too hard, anxiety, or bad previous experiences.

It is actually possible that there is a combination of causes at play. However, there are some things you can consider when figuring out the main causes and there are many things you can do about them.

Why does my dog not like being petted?

Below are a number of possible causes and what would make each of them more likely to be the main reason.

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 or constantly lowering its head. In this case, the best option would be to take it to a vet.

Intimidation

The reason why it backs away could be that it is intimidated. The reason why it is intimidated 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 too 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.

Anxiety

Another possible 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.

Previous owners

Another possible cause is that previous owners mistreated it and it now does not like it when people approach it. This would be more likely if you adopted your dog and it has always not liked being pet. In this case, it would help to have patience and to use positive reinforcement training as mentioned below.

Things to consider

Below are some things to consider when figuring out the main reason why your dog has been doing it. 

What else happened when your dog stopped wanting to be petted

If your dog would let you pet it, in the past, 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 want to be pet

If it does want to be pet sometimes, it would also help to consider what is different when it is ok with it. For example, if it does not do it when you approach it slowly, it could be the case that it avoids being pet sometimes due to being intimidated.

What to do about your dog not wanting to be pet

Below are some options you have when dealing with the behavior.

Don’t be too forceful

As mentioned above, it might be the case that you have been petting it too aggressively. When interacting with your dog it would help to be calm and not too forceful. It could also help to approach it from the side instead of directly since approaching from the side tends to be less intimidating.

Get help

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.

Avoid encouraging the behavior

It could be the case that it has learned that the behavior is rewarded. Instead, it would help to give it rewards when it lets you pet it and to avoid rewarding it when it does not. 

Positive reinforcement training

Positive reinforcement training is where you encourage your dog to behave the way you want it to by rewarding it when it shows signs of behaving that way and not rewarding it when it does not. To use it to get it to let you pet it, you could reward it with a treat when it does not resist when you go near it or when you pet it, and stop rewarding it when it starts backing away.

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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.