If your dog is not affectionate you might want to know 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 be more affectionate.

So, why is my dog not affectionate? Possible reasons why your dog is not affectionate are that previous owners mistreated it, illness, inadvertently rewarding the behavior, depression or it could be that it shows affection in ways that you are not noticing.

There are actually multiple reasons why your dog might not be being affectionate and it could be a combination of multiple reasons. However, there are a number of things you can consider which will help in figuring out the exact reason.

Why your dog is not affectionate

Each of the different reasons why your dog is not affectionate will likely come with some clues.

Below, I will show you a number of possible reasons why it is not affectionate and what would make them more likely.

Previous owners

The cause could be that previous owners mistreated it and it learned that it shouldn’t show affection. This would be more likely if you adopted your dog.

If you recently adopted it, your dog will likely improve over the course of a few weeks. However, you can help it by training it, giving it positive attention by playing with it and by walking it. If it does not improve, consider getting help from a vet or a dog behaviorist.

Illness or injury

The cause could be that it is ill or injured. This would be more likely if it has stopped being affectionate suddenly and if it has also been showing signs of being ill or injured such as sleeping more or being fatigued when awake. In this case, the best option would be to take it to a vet.

Related: Why is my dog so lazy?

Fear

The cause might be that something has been causing it to be fearful. This would be more likely if there is a certain time that your dog tends to become less affectionate.

If it does seem like it might be afraid of something it would help to reduce its exposure to that thing and to try desensitization training if possible.

Nature

It might be the case that your dog is naturally not very affectionate. This would be more likely if it has always not been affectionate and if it is a breed that is known for not being so affectionate.

If you want to get it to be more affectionate you could try rewarding it when it shows signs of being affectionate and to avoid rewarding it when it is not affectionate.

Age

If your dog has become less affectionate as it has gotten older it would be more likely to be because it has not got as much spare energy as it used to. When dogs get older they need to use more energy to move around so they will naturally tend to become less energetic and to sleep more.

Boredom

If your dog is a breed that is meant to get a lot of exercise then it could be the case that it is under-stimulated. When dogs don’t get enough exercise it can cause them to develop behavioral issues and it could be why yours has not been showing much affection. It would help to find out how much exercise your dog is meant to be getting daily and to make sure that it is able to get it.

Depression

The cause could be that it is depressed. This would be more likely if it stopped being affectionate suddenly after an event occurred that might have caused it to become depressed such as an owner leaving, being mistreated or another pet dying.

If it seems like your dog might be being less affectionate due to being depressed then it might improve over the course of a few weeks. You can help it by giving it positive attention and lots of exercise. If it doesn’t improve then consider getting the help of a vet or dog behaviorist in your area.

You have inadvertently trained it to be that way

It might be the case that it has learned to be less affectionate because you have been rewarding it for being less affectionate. If you tend to give it things such as toys, extra attention or treats when it is less affectionate then it might do it more in order to get those rewards.

Instead, it would help to reward it when it is affectionate or it shows signs of being affectionate and to use positive reinforcement training to get it to be more affectionate.

Things to consider

Below are some things to consider when trying to figure out why your dog is not affectionate.

If your dog has always not been affectionate

It would help to consider whether or not your dog has always not been affectionate. If it has become less affectionate suddenly it could be the case that there was an event that caused it to start being less affectionate.

If it has become less affectionate suddenly it would make it more likely to be due to things such as illness, injury, being mistreated, a change in its diet, getting less exercise or being too hot. It would help to consider what else changed when it started being less affectionate.

Whereas, if it has always been that way it would be more likely that it is naturally less affectionate but it could also be that it is due to its age, rewarding the behavior or previous owners.

If your dog is more affectionate at certain times

It would also help to consider if there are certain times where it is more affectionate. If it is more affectionate at certain times it could be the case that the timing has something to do with it.

If your dog is more affectionate at certain times it could be that an issue with its diet is causing it to behave differently after eating, it’s not getting enough exercise or it might become fearful of something at certain times.

Whereas, if your dog is always not affectionate then it would be more likely to be due to things such as nature, boredom, illness, injury or mistreatment by previous owners.

It could be showing affection towards you that you are not realizing

It is also important to consider that dogs can show affection in many ways and it might be the case that your dog has been being affectionate but you haven’t been noticing it.

Ways that your dog might actually be showing affection towards you could include:

  • Following your orders
  • Protecting you or your home
  • “Nosing” you which is where it touches you with its nose and smells you
  • Making eye contact with you
  • Putting itself into vulnerable positions when it is around you
  • Licking you
  • Getting excited when you come home
  • Leaning on you
  • Getting you to rub its belly
  • Keeping pace with you on walks
  • Bringing things to you
  • Following you around

How to get your dog to be more affectionate

Below are some options you have when getting your dog to be more affectionate. You will likely find that making use of multiple of them will work best.

Positive reinforcement

Positive reinforcement training involves training your dog to behave a certain way by rewarding it when it shows signs of behaving that way.

To use positive reinforcement training to get your dog to be more affectionate you would:

  • Reward it when it shows affection to you,
  • Reward it when it shows signs of showing affection towards you
  • Reward it when it does not ignore you when it normally would

It would also help to recognize when it is about to ignore you and to divert its attention back onto you by training it to come to you on command.

Avoid positively reinforcing behavior you don’t want

As mentioned above, it could also be the case that you have reinforced the lack of affection. Instead, it would help to reward it when it is well behaved and to train it to behave the way you want with positive reinforcement training.

Avoid punishing it

It would also help to avoid punishing it since it might not know what you are punishing it for and it could cause it to have feelings of resentment. Instead, it would help to give it positive reinforcement training so that it learns how to behave.

Spend more time with it and show it more affection yourself

It would also help to give it more affection yourself by spending time exercising it, training it and playing with it.

Give it more exercise

Provided that your dog is healthy it would help to make sure that it is getting enough exercise either by exercising it yourself or by getting a dog walker to do it for you when you can’t do it.

Take it to the vet

If you can’t figure out why your dog has been doing it or it has started acting differently suddenly consider taking it to a vet. By doing so you will be able to rule out the possibility of illness and to get expert advice tailored to your particular dog.

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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.