If your dog won’t let you 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 about them.

So, why doesn’t my dog let me pet it? Possible reasons why your dog won’t let you pet it are that it has an injury, it feels intimidated, it had bad previous experiences when interacting with people, learning that the behavior is rewarded, or it might naturally not like being touched.

There are actually a number of possible reasons why your dog might not be letting you pet it and it might be due to a combination of them. However, there are a number of things you can consider when figuring out the main reason and there are things you can do about it.

Reasons why your dog doesn’t let 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.

Injury

The cause could be that it has injured itself and it does not want you to pet it because it hurts. This would be more likely if your dog has started doing it suddenly and it has been showing other signs of being injured such as not moving as much as normal or walking in an unusual way. In this case, it would help to take it to a vet. 

Intimidation

The cause could also be that it becomes intimidated. It might be intimidated because of the way you approach it, how loud you are, or how aggressively you pet it. Instead, it would help to be gentle with it and to be calm around it. 

Previous experiences

The cause could also be that someone mistreated it in the past, causing it to not like allowing people to pet it anymore. This would be more likely if you adopted it as an adult. 

It might also be the case that you hurt it when you petted it before and now it does not want you to pet it again. This would be more likely if it stopped letting you pet it suddenly after you hurt it.

Encouraging the behavior

The cause could also be that it has learned that it gets rewards when it does not let you pet it. If you tend to give it things such as toys, treats or extra attention, when it does not let you pet it, it will likely do it more in order to get more rewards. 

Nature

Some dogs just do not like being petted and it could be the case that yours does not like it naturally. This would be more likely if it has always not wanted you to pet it.

Things to consider

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

If your dog did let you pet it in the past

If your dog did let you pet it before, it would help to consider what else happened when it stopped letting you pet it. If it stopped letting you pet it suddenly, it could be because it injured it or because you hurt it when you petted it. 

If your dog does let you pet it sometimes

If your dog does let you pet it sometimes, it would also help to consider what else is different when it does allow you to pet it. For example, if it does not let you do it when you approach it in a certain way, it might be because it is intimidated. 

Its age

It would also help to consider how old your dog is. If it is a puppy, it would be more likely that it does it due to being intimidated or not understanding what you are doing. Whereas, if it is an adult, it would be more likely to be due to past experiences. 

What to do about your dog not letting you pet it

Below are a number of options you have when getting your dog to start letting you pet it.

Avoid encouraging it

As mentioned above, it could be the case that your dog has learned that it gets rewards when it does not let you pet it. Instead, it would help to reward it when it does let you pet it and to avoid rewarding it when it does not.

Get help

If your dog has started doing it suddenly and it has been showing signs of being injured, the best option would be to take it to a vet. By taking it to a vet, you should be able to rule out medical causes and to get expert advice tailored towards your particular dog.

Positive reinforcement training

Positive reinforcement training involves encouraging the behavior you want to see by rewarding your dog when it shows signs of displaying it. To use it to get your dog to let you pet it, you would make it seem like you want to pet it and reward it if it does not flinch, then gradually build up to actually petting it. 

Be careful

Often, dogs will behave more aggressively when they are intimidated. If it does not like being petted, it would also be important to be careful when trying to pet it.

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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.