Your dog’s been acting indifferent toward you — or perhaps downright cruel.
They’re ignoring you when you call their name. They growl or sneer at you when you try to pet them. They won’t sleep in your bed anymore. And they’re generally a grump when you’re in the room.
So, what gives?
That’s the question we’re going to attempt to answer in this article. We’ll also be discussing related questions, such as what to do when your dog won’t sleep with you anymore and how really tell if your dog “doesn’t like you.”
Let’s start with the first basic question:
Why does my dog not like me all of a sudden?
Just like us, dogs have deep emotions. They feel happiness, sadness, anger, frustration, and jealousy — among others. So, if your dog is acting like they don’t like you anymore, start here. Not all dogs are going to be 100% devoted and loving 100% of the time. That’s okay. Your dog has a personality.
Now, let’s get down to brass tacks: What has caused your dog’s behavior toward you to shift so drastically?
Here are the most likely possible causes:
Your dog is stressed by a recent environmental shift.
Consider your lifestyle before and after your dog’s shift in behavior. Ask yourself these questions:
- Did you recently move?
- Did you recently have a baby?
- Are other new people in the home (visitors from out of town, workmen, family or friends)?
- Did a new family move in next door? Do they have pets or kids?
- Have you recently experienced the loss of a loved one — someone in your household?
- Have you recently experienced the loss of another household pet?
- Do you have a new pet in the home?
- Did something change with another pet you have in the home (a new medical issue or having a litter of pups, for example)?
- Did you stop doing a routine activity you used to commonly do (like going to the dog park or going to the beach, for example)?
- Did you (or someone else in your household) recently get a new job that requires you to be gone for more hours during the day (or different hours)?
All of these shifts can have a profound effect on your dog’s feelings. Keep in mind that they are not privy to the conversations that happen between you and your family before getting a new job, having a new baby, or getting a new pet, for instance.
They only see the results — the immediate change when it happens. This can be abrupt for your dog, and they may have strong feelings about it.
Their needs have changed as they’ve gotten older.
None of us want our dogs to grow older and change. Most of us miss those happy days when they were puppies — full of excitement and joy all the time. But time marches on, and, like us, dogs get older, and their needs change.
Because dogs get older at a faster pace than humans, these changes can seem abrupt to us. Really, they are just natural and to be expected. It’s good to anticipate them before they happen so that you are more mentally and physically prepared.
One of the most common changes to occur with dogs is they slow down and begin to feel the effects of physical discomfort. This usually comes in the form of achy joints and arthritic symptoms. Their sight and hearing may slowly start to go as well, and they may feel more of a general malaise than they used to.
All of these effects can cause changes to their behavior as well. Think about older people you know in your life. Sometimes, they are less cheerful than younger people too. They have less energy and less patience. Dogs are often the same.
The good news is you can adjust to these changes. Buying things like little stairs to help them get up to the couch or your bed are always helpful to them. Changing their food if they require it can help too. Get them a new bed that’s more comfortable or different treats, perhaps.
All of these adjustments can put your older dog at ease and help them to feel more comfortable and happy around you.
They’re experiencing a medical issue.
Lastly, we come to medical issues. In some cases, dogs may alter their behavior because of a health problem. And really, when you think about it, this makes sense. Sick humans tend to do the same. When you’re not feeling well, you’re unhappier. You’re probably grumpy around people you love too.
Often, when dogs become very ill, they start to act uncomfortable around humans. They don’t want to play or be sociable. They become grumpy. And their general behavior may lead you to believe “they don’t like you anymore.”
If you suspect a medical issue may be at the bottom of your dog’s behavior, contact your veterinarian and book an appointment.
Why won’t my dog sleep with me anymore?
There are a number of reasons why a dog may prefer not to sleep with you anymore:
They’ve found a more comfortable spot somewhere else.
Have you noticed that your dog is sleeping on your new couch instead of sleeping on your bed with you? They may have simply found out that the couch is more comfortable to them.
Just as humans differ in how we prefer the firmness and style of our mattresses, dogs have preferences too. They care about the surfaces they lay on. For instance, they may not like your mattress, or they may simply be annoyed at the fabric you’ve chosen for your duvet cover.
They get inadvertently kicked or nudged in your bed.
Sometimes, we’re totally unaware of what we do at night. We wake up in a completely different position, with different pillows under our heads and the comforter upside down.
It’s quite possible, then, that you are making your dog uncomfortable during the night, even without knowing it. You may accidentally kick them or nudge them, and they may simply not like it.
They don’t have enough room.
Your dog may prefer to sleep stretched out (don’t you!?), and this might just be impossible in your bed. If you have a partner who sleeps with you too, the room they have may be so limited that it’s causing them to jump ship and seek comfort elsewhere.
The temperature in your bedroom isn’t comfortable for them.
You may prefer a cold bedroom with the windows cracked, even in the winter. Or you may like to keep your bedroom super toasty.
Still, whatever you like temperature-wise may not be what your dog likes. Keep in mind that they have a totally different body temperature system than you. They’re a different species, after all. Second, they don’t have covers over them like you do. They have fur, of course.
In general, their needs are simply different when it comes to temperature.
How can you tell if your dog doesn’t like you?
The first thing to take note of here is whether your dog is “new” to you.
So far, we’ve been talking about dogs that you used to get along with, but that are now changing their behavior and acting indifferent toward you: you used to play together, snuggle together, and be happy together. Then, all of a sudden, it seems like your dog doesn’t like you.
In fact, this isn’t the only negative scenario that can come between a dog and their owner. If a dog is brand-new to the world at large (a puppy) or newly adopted (new to you), they may seem like they don’t like you right away.
Consider these situations:
- Did you just get your dog from the pound or a dog shelter?
- Did you adopt them from a breeder?
- Did you adopt them from someone else?
- Did you find them on the side of the road or in a parking lot, for example?
If your dog is new to you, it is indeed possible that you have a compatibility issue on your hands. Just like with interpersonal relationships between humans, the personalities between dogs and humans can clash.
Alternatively, dogs and environments can crash. For example, if you already have another dog or several dogs, a cat or several cats, or other animals in your home, your new dog may simply not like it. They may be competitive or protective. They may feel intimidated or challenged. They might even be the challenger — wanting to “rule the roost” and being unhappy that there’s competition.
Sometimes, dogs don’t do well with the specific lifestyle you’ve provided. This isn’t to say that it’s all your faults or that you’ve provided a terrible home for your new dog. However, if, for example, they’re used to living indoors and sleeping on their owner’s bed, but you’ve decided that you want them to sleep in the garage in a comfy area you’ve set up, they may be unhappy about this. And they may show it.
Other things can set new dogs off too:
- The type of food you’re feeding them
- How often they get walked
- How often they get to go outside in general
- What it’s like when they get to go outside (concrete vs. grass vs. patio, etc.)
- The climate in your area
- What sort of toys they have to play with
- Whether you have children in the home
Common signs your dog doesn’t like you (or is currently acting in this way)
In general, these are the most common signs that something’s amiss between you and your dog:
- They never come up to you voluntarily
- They won’t let you touch them
- They snarl or move away when you come near them
- They don’t want to sleep on your bed
- They don’t want to sit next to you
- They’re always interested in going outside or being in a different room than you
- They don’t come to the door when you return home from being away
- They’re indifferent when you leave
What to do when your dog does not like you?
Most of the time, you’ll be able to get to the bottom of the issue between you and your dog, and then, you can learn to get along again — or for the first time.
Here are some tips to help the process along:
Always seek medical attention first (if needed).
If you at all think that a medical issue could be at the core of your dog’s sudden indifference to you, seek medical attention as soon as possible by booking an appointment with your veterinarian.
Keep in mind that, like humans, dogs may not change their behaviors and attitudes overnight. If you’re pretty sure that your dog has been upset with you because they have a new sleeping situation and they don’t like it, for example, just give it some time before rushing to conclusions.
Alternatively, it may be that your dog just needs to ease into a new environment (if you’ve recently moved, for example) or to build a relationship with a new pet or baby in the home. Patience is key in all of these situations.
Consider any changes you may be able to make.
Think about any alterations you could make to help your dog and you get along more.
If you’re gone often, make a point to spend more quality time together. Take your dog for a walk, or just play together in the backyard. If you’ve been spending a lot of time with another pet, try to space out your attention more evenly.
Finally, change their sleeping arrangements, or get them a new brand of food or some new toys. Sometimes, even a small change can boost your dog’s mood.
Use positive reinforcement.
Often, an issue between a dog and a dog owner comes down to rules in the home. You may be acting negatively toward your dog if they are peeing all over the house, for example. This may, in turn, cause your dog to have malevolent feelings toward you — go figure.
In cases like these, take training into your own hands. Watch dog training YouTube videos, or even sign up for a professional program in your area or one you can take online.
Most of all, training your dog to respond better in your home environment and click better with you and your family will come down to positive reinforcement. Basically, this means giving positive rewards (treats, pets, snuggles, extra playtime, and verbal praise) when your dog does something you like — like goes to the bathroom outdoors, sits on command, etc.