Not All Dogs Like Being Petted

This Dog is Clearly Enjoying Affection

Sounds crazy doesn’t it?

When we think of dogs we think of getting lost in their luxurious fur.

Just petting them lowers our blood pressure and can take stress right out of our lives.

Thankfully most dogs like being petted, but not all dogs do.  Even dogs that were taken home as pups and loved and coddled may not like being petted and touched affectionately.

Some dogs are just not overly affectionate; it is part of who they are as individuals.

These dogs usually are the dogs that would rather play ball or train or interact in games with you than snuggle in your blanket with you.

They are the ones that are happy laying on their own beds on the floor and don’t generally come to you for affection; they get interaction from you in other ways.

Or these are the dogs that demand affection and “worship” from you but only on their own schedule.  They may nuzzle you for affection one minute; and then threaten you for petting them the next.

This Dog has Soft Squinty Eyes

Genetics vs. a Learned Behavior

Some puppies are born like this; they are just more independent and don’t want nor need what we consider “affection”.  That doesn’t mean they don’t want to “be” with you, it just means they are content hanging out with you or would prefer training or playing over snuggling.

Some dogs are extremely dominant and only want the things they want, when they want it; these are usually the dogs that are overly spoiled and not trained or played with; these dogs demand affection or to be left alone.

And some dogs learn this behavior because they weren’t snuggled with petted or held as puppies.

When I use to train Service Dogs and we would temperament test them, we called this “backyard dog syndrome” because some of these dogs just learn to pay more attention to everything else in their environment then caring about humans.

Sometimes, if you don’t know the history of the dog it is hard to know the difference.

Why is this Important to YOU?

Because it is imperative to know that not all dogs like to be petted and to teach your children that not all dogs like affection. And for a great video series that shows you how to work with this type of impulsive behavior, click here.

Dogs are sooo very cute and fuzzy.  Their faces are adorable and they have soft silky fur and we like petting them.  So it is hard to understand that not all dogs like affection and being petted.

Some dogs see a hand going over their head as rude and even dominant behavior and may attempt to bite someone who is seen as being rude or pets them when they don’t desire affection.

When teaching children, it is always best to have them pet dogs on the chest first and if the dog solicits more petting or affection then that shows that he is more comfortable with friendliness.

The father to my puppy and my puppy are both not fond of affection.

Petting almost puts him into a hyper irritation mode.  Some of these dogs will actually shake their fur or their bodies after you touch them because they don’t like it; it is as if they are trying to shake you off.

He loves me, and he wants to be with me, but he would much rather sit on my feet and play with me than he likes me to pet him.

And, he likes other people to pet him even less, and because it can irritate him; I don’t allow people to pet him.

It is like he has this super short fuse and one minute he is soliciting affection, seemingly enjoying it and the next minute he is nipping or putting his mouth on people.

People don’t mind so much when the puppy is just a couple of months old; but when he is over 50# and over 6 months this behavior is much less cute for all those involved.   It can actually turn dangerous very quickly.

It is imperative to stop people from petting dogs like this!

Because affection is not a positive reinforcer (or something he likes) for these kind of dogs, forcing him to be petted is actually a negative and can make him show more aggression and even lash out.

Before I Even Consider Petting a Dog

This Dog has a Harder more Dilated Eye, Although I can't be Sure if he is Being Dominant or he is Uncomfortable, I would be More Careful with This Dog going only by the Picture.

  • I always look at his body language.
  • Is his tail held high at the base over his back?  This is a sign of over stimulation or dominance more on tails here.
  • Does he seem over stimulated?
  • Is he barking?
  • Is he making soft squinty eye contact with me, or is he staring at me, or is he completely ignoring me?

I never pet a dog that is staring at me or has dilated or hard looking pupils.  If you can see the whites of the dog's eyes that is a sign that he is clearly uncomfortable (unless by breed he can't help it).

I am always cautious about petting a dog who’s tail is held very high over his back, because this tells me that he is being very dominant, even if the tail is wagging or he is demanding being petted the level of his tail tells me about what is going on in his mind!

And, a very dominant dog is much closer to biting than a submissive (not fearful)  dog or a neutrally friendly dog.

I never pet a dog that is staring at or stalking something else, like another dog or a squirrel.  The introduction of my hand at an inopportune moment puts my hand at risk for a bite or to be mistaken for that other dog or squirrel.

I also never pet a dog that is completely ignoring me or pretending I don’t exist.

I only want to pet a dog that WANTS to be petted, not one that will “put up with it” because this dog is closer to his bite threshold.

All dogs have a “bite threshold” an amount of discomfort or irritation that he will deal with before he bites.

Some dogs have a HUGE bite threshold and would put up with almost anything (including pain) before they will bite or threaten to bite; and some dogs have a very short or thin bite threshold where they are already very close to biting.

It is hard to tell what the “bite threshold” of a dog that doesn’t want to be petted is, but it is probably shorter than a dog that is overly solicitous and affectionate and wants to be petted.

I want a dog that has soft, squinty, eyes and a tail that wags from his base line or a low submissive tail wag; these are signs of a dog that wants interaction from me.

If You Have A Dog That Doesn't Seem to Like Affection

It is crucial that you control his environment and who pets him.  Again, I cannot stress enough that these dogs are closer to their bite threshold and even though they may seem to initiate the affection, he may decide shortly thereafter that he doesn’t want to be touched and may try to bite the person he just wanted to pet him.

Remember that petting is not rewarding for these dogs, it is an irritant or a negative, almost like a punishment.

Do not allow him to DEMAND when to be petted.  Just because he is demanding it, may not mean that he is enjoying it and you are rewarding him for demanding or telling you what to do!

What Do I do?

These eyes are a Warning that I am too Close to Something he Desires! If I Push He is Likely to Snap or Bite!!!

  • I pet my dog when he is enjoying something else, so that he associates affection with something else he loves.
  • I pet him while he is playing ball.
  • I click him and treat him WHILE I pet him so he has a positive association of my affection.
  • I pet him on my own terms and I don't allow him to demand or try and force me to touch him when its not my idea
  • I never “pet” him while he is being possessive of something.
  • My puppy is very, very possessive and although we are working through his possession I never pet him while he is being possessive.  Not only would this put me at risk, it will condition (him more on conditioning here) to feel possessive when he is being touched, even if he doesn’t have anything to be possessive over.
  • And, I always realize that I may be able to teach him to tolerate, and then even enjoy my affection; he may never enjoy it from other people that he doesn’t know!

Understanding Dogs and Their Impulsive Behavior is Crucial for All of Our Well-being and to Having a Good Relationship.




Start Calming Down Your Over Excited Dogs Today!

Your First Lesson’s FREE:

Sign up below and we’ll email you your first “Training For Calm” lesson to your inbox in the next 5 minutes.


  1. Phoenix says:

    I have a nine-year-old male Beagle/Jack Russell. He’s a very friendly boy and likes to be petted. I’ve often thought that he had the temperament to be a therapy dog except for one thing. He does NOT like to be hugged. Petting, yes. Hugging, no. He also doesn’t like his tail messed with, or his nails. Kind of leaves out the therapy dog idea. But on the whole, he’s a very nice boy who gets along with 99 percent of people, perhaps 90 percent of other dogs and zero percent cats. When we lived in Cambria we used to go walking in town often. He always seemed to know who needed a “doggie fix.” Some people he would totally ignore, but others he’d walk right up to and put his head on their knee and look up at them with those big brown eyes. Invariably, they’d say, “Oh, I miss my dog so much! We couldn’t bring him on vacation with us.”


    Minette Reply:

    yes, therapy dogs are hugged quite frequently, and have their tails pulled and feet touched. So, he will never be a therapy dog for others but always one for you 🙂


  2. Sheila Smith says:

    I have an aloof dog who used to not like people reaching over his head to be petted, so I clicker trained him to accept a reach over his head by starting with my hand about 3 feet over his head and gradually lowering it. I did this to avoid a bite because you can’t trust strangers not to reach for and pet your really cute dog.


  3. Sara K. says:

    My sheltie is scared of people. I never figured out why. She was like that from the day we got her. It took her 2 full days to just come out of her crate and come see us. But because of this fear of humans she doesn’t like to be touched by strangers. She will mouth on me (never actually bite) when shes had enough petting from me as well. I took her to obedience classes and such, but she never warmed up to strangers. To this day she will sneak up to a person and sniff them, but as soon as they bend down or move too fast to pet her she darts into the next county. Its rather odd though, some times she will just crash out with me on the couch with me petting her. Shes one of those “only on my time” will I let you pet me.


    Minette Reply:

    There are a few of these dogs running around 😉

    If you want to change it, try clicker training when you pet her, so that petting is reinforced with something she really likes!

    Eventually you should be able to condition her to liking petting from YOU but it probably won’t transfer over to others!


  4. Mark says:

    I would submit that most people pet the wrong way. From your pictures the hand is over the dogs head where he cannot see your ‘finger-teeth’. Then, there is the patting on the head instead of gently stroking. I would suggest starting with your hand open and at nose level so that she can smell your intent. Then gently start under her chin and down the chest, slowly working your way towards her back. Long gentle strokes, not hard patting. Leave the head alone at first, but a gentle squeeze along her cheeks and ears can leave you both feeling relaxed. Then again…some dogs just don’t like affection the way we like giving it. Show your dog you love him or her by taking a hike together. A tired dog is a happy dog.


  5. Joan says:

    Years ago with my first dog as an adult, I read as much material about training as I could get my hands on. One thing I read, and believe because it was true with that dog and has proven to be true with the two I have since brought into my home, was that dogs don’t like to be petted. That dogs instead, like to be scritched. Um, that is my word, but the bottom line is that they like me to scratch their bodies and tummies and behind their ears. Scratching their chests would always calm them if need be. So to read all this about petting dogs is foreign to me. That is never something I would do. (To take the matter further, dogs like to be scratched and CATS like to be petted. Horrors!)


    Minette Reply:

    Some dogs like to be petted.

    Sometimes vigorous scratching can cause over excitement.

    Each dog is different, but basically what I was trying to say is that some dogs don’t really like to be “touched” it is just not something they prefer or choose.

    Thankfully MOST dogs like to be touched, it is just a certain few that find it distasteful. Unfortunately I own one of these right now… but he is learning.


  6. shonar says:

    In india we have a lot of dogs on the street and they have a lot of different blood in them so it’s often hard to judge a certain genetic character behaviour. I have one such 10 month old female who has been with me since she was a month old. I have only showered her with love and looked after every need, trained her, played with her…everything that needed to be done has been done. She always did show an independent side but off late (last couple of months) she has really distanced herself from me. She stays int he driveway the whole day, refuses to come into the house until its night and even then, really doesnt show any affection. Just bullies the other dog and cat and then goes off to sleep. Its been a bit heartbreaking to see how she really has no feelings for me and uses me only for shelter and food. I thought maybe I have done something wrong along the way but after reading your post, i feel maybe there are dogs who are just very independent and dont need human contact. However it still makes me sad to think that my next 15 years with her will be so mechanical.


    Minette Reply:

    Then keep her inside! Being inside with you will help her to bond to you.


    dawn fuhrman Reply:

    do you really think keeping the dog in will help? i’ve had my dog for about 5 months and she was a little over a year when i got her.she has never been super affectionate but it seems as the days go by she is getting more and more distant.she even used to jump right in the car to go for a ride. now i have to keep telling her to get in the car. we go for rides maybe twice a week and it’s always the same thing. even when i come home after being gone 4 hours she doesn’t even wag her tail. it’s complete shonar wrote it breaks my heart that she really doesn’t care if she ever sees me again and that i’m not her best friend. any suggestion on how to get her to respond to me would be great.


    Minette Reply:

    Iike any relationship, it takes work and time.

    And, just like people, some dogs are affectionate and some are not as affectionate. Some dogs prefer their people, and some prefer the time with other dogs.

    But like any relationship you have to figure out what is important to your dog and find time to spend together. Twice a week in a car is obviously not enough. Take a training class, go for walks twice a day, and spend time training and playing and you will see your relationship change.

  7. lynda says:

    For all my Dog lovers today was interesting…
    My dog, olde English bulldogg, i started patting him on the head over and over and he got really offended. I wasn’t doing it purposely. I was just amazed how soft his big head is. Well he backed up and barked in a growling way, then went and set next to my son and began to show ME his bottom teeth. He’s never acted that way I’ve had him months now, and let me tell you… I’ll not make that mistake again! It’s a sign of intelligence when a dog, and he’s nobody’s b_____! I’m the boss but he’s to be respected


  8. beth says:

    My husband and I have a 9 month old Border Collie, he is a good dog, but have noticed lately that when people come around to pet him, he is good to let people pet him and some he just nips at them. when kids are near I don’t let them touch him because I’m afraid he will nip them. The people he has been around the most are adults and some interaction will other dogs. He has been around cats alot and he herds them around the house.
    I have noticed people when they want to pet dogs they always get close to the dog to pet them instead of using their hand to let the dog smell it or just talking to the dog. Or they just go ahead and pet the dog right away. I think this is wrong to do because they are putting themselves in danger and the owner like myself are liable for what the dog does and then not have the dog anymore. Is there another way to get the dog to stop the nipping?


    JPinPHX Reply:

    I have a border collie also that isn’t the most affectionate dog. With me, he lets me pet him, he’ll roll over for belly rubs, but he doesn’t like to be touched by strangers (especially children).

    When I have someone over to the house, I tell them, no touch, no talk, no eye contact to the dog. Racer (my dog) eventually will grab a ball and bring it over to the person. I think that’s his own form of trying to get to know them.

    You are right about the liability involved if he were to bite someone which is why I always let people know not to touch him. He learned not to nip at kids or chase them by me making a “clicking” sound with my mouth then giving him a little treat. When he hears that now, he stops, but as he’s gotten older he has stopped trying to nip them completely.


  9. Christy says:

    I have a 4 yr old Bichon that I rescued from a puppy mill at 1yr old. He will not let anyone touch him including myself. So grooming is nonexistant. I can’t get a leash on him. I did manage to get him to the Vet once. He took out my thumbnail and scared the Vet staff. He bit me and drew blood 11 times in the first month. We then came to an understanding: I don’t touch him he doesn’t bite me. He initially stayed 15 feet from me but now sits at my feet. He takes food from my hand and at times I can bribe him into my lap to get a treat. If any muscle twitches he is off out of arms reach. If I touch him he turns around snaps and scolds me so much that my other dogs place themselves between us. He stays in the house or the fenced in backyard. I have rescued a lot of snarling ,nippy dogs in the past and they turned into great dogs. This is the only one who hasn’t come around. I feel I need to kept trying with him as he is my hero dog that woke us up when the house caught on fire. What can I do? He is so hyper alert that he senses movement before it occurs.


    Minette Reply:

    Contact your vet and I would get a referral to a veterinary behaviorist


  10. Jessica says:

    Hi, I loved your article and was surprised to see the picture of your dog and the chew toy, because he looks so much like my dog (a dutch shepherd). He too seems to enjoy playtime over petting and cuddling. Is it common with this breed?


    Minette Reply:

    Very common, they are a high drive breed… more snuggly as they age but very, very active


  11. sally Hauser says:

    I have a 4 year old red heeler mix. Rescued at 6 mos old. did agility training for two years and stopped going as she started wanting to run after dogs on the field. Now she stalks and growls at all new up coming dogs on our walks. She is fine with ones she already knows. Also, growled and stalked two different pool people who came into yard. Her tail is held high and her hair raises up on her back. She has never really bitten anyone but makes me very nervous and afraid to hike with her, etc. She was actually on the shy side when she was a pup. I’m not sure she is dominant, protective or just afraid and bluffing. What do I do? She is very sweet to us and all our friends.


  12. jessica griffin says:

    Hi, I have a 2 year old lab mix they think he is shepard. He is very friendly and affectionate towards my husband and I, he doesnt really bother my daughter he never is mean to her just ignore her really shes a baby so they arent ever aolone. But whenever people try to pet them he nips, how do I change this?


    Minette Reply:

    contact customer service about our aggression program, it might help and has a variety of videos and homework that will give you some steps to take in the right direction.

    If he is making contact or you are worried he will bite someone I recommend a veterinary behaviorist to come out and see the behavior and put you both on a behavior modification program.


  13. Tommy Lee says:

    Reading articles like this is pure comfort. I love in Congo and my 6-year old intact male mix is an amazingly lovable, interesting, intelligent dog. He is always quiet except when there is an unknown person at the gate. He’s stately with silky top coat and a thick undercoat, white and red with a white racing stripe on his forehead. He is quirky, loves fish and hates ham, will steal butter and refuse to eat kibble. Hes always up for a walk, an inspection tour of the property, an adventure. He’s the perfect dog.

    He’s just not a dog who likes to be touched. But he is very loving and affectionate in other ways.

    If he sits and let’s me pet him for a few minutes, I have to shake off my dream state and get up and ask him: what do you want. Then he will lead me to the fridge or the door or the leash and look at me with his big intelligent eyes and wag his fluffy squirrel tail, like “get it now??? Is it a yes???”

    He loooooooves us. He loves to curl up under our table at our feet at mealtimes. If anything exciting is happening, he will run up grab a kitchen towel, sock, rag and walk in the middle of us, bumping against our legs. If he hears us watch a movie and he’s outside, he’ll howl until we let him in, and then go and curl up under the rattan chair where he can see us all. If we put on the walking pants (as we do every single night), he’ll freak out, run around, whimper, body-bomb us, crawl around on his front paws licking our feet…

    Walking is his greatest passion. So we walk him all the time. He’s quirky and we almost can’t ever pet him except when he either wants something or wants physical contact via petting on the top of his head and on his cheeks and throat only, which is once every three days. His body tail, back legs and front paws are growlingly off-limits.

    Ah. I feel better. 🙂 I’m not alone.


  14. Mary Williams says:

    This is great! But my dog loves being petted. But when i pat her on the head, her eyes seems to go like she is afraid. I think she just wants me to pet her somewhere else, cause she loves being petted.


  15. Elena says:

    I got a Golden Retriever from a reputable breeder who told me that his litter of puppies was the cuddliest he had ever had. We went with a breeder who would choose the pup for us, as we were told this was the best system because breeders know their dogs best. However, when we went to pick up our pup, I didn’t think he was very affectionate. We could hold him without him squirming, but he didn’t seek touch.

    He is 10 months now and this is still true. He used to yawn as soon as we would pet him, so we would pet him and give him treats, as he is very food motivated. Now he won’t start yawning so soon but petting certainly isn’t something he enjoys.

    My concern is that I have young children. I always supervise and pair petting with food a lot of the time, but it is just so disappointing to have a cuddly-LOOKING dog who doesn’t want to be pet. So very, very disappointing. I feel like this puts me on high alert because, as you said, then the bite threshold is lower. As you mentioned in your article, he prefers to train especially. He does want to be with us all of the time, however. The breeder told me his littermate sister is aloof. The mother was very affectionate when we met her.

    If I should ever get another dog, I will make sure that he or she craves petting. I wish I would have even considered this as a possibility because it was something I thought all dogs liked, especially if they were raised in a loving home. But, nature has far more control!


    Minette Reply:

    This is why I like picking adult dogs out of shelters… I can see who likes affection when they are adults.

    I wouldn’t encourage the children to pet, instead, throw a ball, or teach a trick or do something he likes because as we have mentioned bite threshold is lower when we do something they don’t like


  16. Elaine says:

    This article hits home to me, thank you for sharing! We have a 2yr old… ya know,breed doesn’t matter.. 😉 He is lovable, snuggles, and always by our sides, where ever we go. However, he just doesn’t want anything to do with anyone else but our family. We have had him since 16 weeks old,(out of a barn) like to think we did our best with trying to socialize him with other people, we go camping very often, with a good group of people, our kids are in sports and all through the spring and summer sports, I leash him up and take him! But, we are at the point of realization that he just doesn’t want to be touched by other people. He will bark if you pull in our driveway, or knock on our door, but when you come in, he will approach, sniff, and walk away! If a stranger puts their hand out to pet him, he will growl.. 🙁 So, we have had a “No Petting” policy! He is NEVER left unattended around any children (besides our own) It is what it is! Owner responsibility! I do wish it were different tho, and wonder if we did something wrong?? But selfishly, glad we are not alone…sorry.. Now, if you bring another dog around, he may have found a new best friend!! (as long as the other dog likes him) He has yet to not like another dog!! Kinda makes sense considering the first 16 weeks of his life he was in a barn?!!?!?! Am I being overly cautious to think I may not know all his triggers tho?? My husband says I worry too much.. I was always taught, the minute you think you have full control may be the minute you lose control..


    Minette Reply:

    Well said, and you are right it is about constant management.

    I have a dog like this too; he loves me and the people he lives with but he has no interest in anyone else so i keep him on leash and don’t let anyone pet him… it is just not worth it!


  17. helen says:

    I have a yorkie, I got him when he was 3 months old, he used like to like to get petted and held, and now that he is 14 years old, he does not like to be held or petted, the only time he comes to me is when he wants to get fed.


  18. Elisabeth says:

    Our dog doesn’t like to be petted or even being talked to by strangers. He will out of the blue try or protend to nip at people’s hands. Is there any help for this?


    Minette Reply:

    He’s telling you he isn’t comfortable… why aren’t’ you stopping people? If you stop letting people reach for him, I bet his behavior will improve.


  19. lynn beddall says:

    We have an 11 month old english bull terrier who used to be so affectionate and loving, he’d enjoy a cuddle, always wanting to get on our laps and wanting fuss. We went on holiday in feb and when we returned, he was a totally different dog. He likes bieing with us, but simply does not want to be touched? He will have a cuddle in the mornings when we first get up, and thats it. we have no idea why ? He was recently castrated ( along with our other dog who is also 11 months) as he was starting to become aggressive towards him and the 3 month pup we have. Can anyone shed any light on this, as we are at our wits end with him, he is still occasionally aggressive to the pup and we monitor him when they play as thats when he turns nasty, we changed his diet and that improved his behaviour for a while, but he still does not want any affection.


  20. Anna says:

    I found your article very interesting, I have a beautiful black german shepherd who is 11 months old. I am with her pretty much all of the time, I train her everyday and we are hoping to enter OPI 1 in the next year. When I am alone with her in the car or out walking she puts her head for me to stroke but when we are home, although she follows me everywhere and sleeps under my bed, she doesn’t like people petting her – am I doing something wrong or is it just the way she is? She is NEVER aggressive and is generally by my side or near me wherever I am in the house.


    Minette Reply:

    Not all dogs like being petted. I am a human who doesn’t necessarily like cuddling, I like my own space, does that make me wrong? No, just makes me who I am!


  21. Sharon Garvey says:

    My year old shitzu, doesn’t like to be held, cuddled or petted. From first thing in the morning she runs around the house with a toy in her mouth. She does this all day long! I throw the toy she fetches and brings it back. That’s our interaction! I can’t brush her, groom her or cuddle her. Sometimes I just feel like crying. We had two wonderful affectionate dogs for fifteen years till they passed and now her. It’s so frustrating to have a dog that just doesn’t seem to care.


  22. Sheila Groeneveld says:

    I have a two year old maltese dog Zara, who loves to play and apport balls, but no way of cuddeling. But,.. When my boyfriend comes to my place and we start tu cuddle, its a whole different story. She wants to join the cuddle session and tries everything to get between us. So is she just a very dominant dog, who makes her own rules. Or is she a dog who actually doesnt like cuddles, but so jaelous that she can handle them sometimes :).?

    Greetings from the Netherlands


  23. Jessica says:

    I have a 4-year-old Staffordshire who I rescued just last year (she came from a ver very bad situation of being abused, thrown out onto a highway and was completely emaciated). When we got her she had some fears, but she seemed pretty fine around people, eventually enjoying being pet and loved. We live on a busy Main St. so socialization was around her every day (by humans and dogs). All of a sudden a few months ago she started with this behavior that you describe above of a dominant dog who doesn’t like being touched. She is 90% of the time fine around women and enjoys their cuddles and as soon as she hears them squeal “OMGGGGG” in her direction, her tail is already wagging and she is ready for some loving. BUT a lot of times with men, or random groups of people, as soon as they talk to me or at her, she will let out a rather scary bark, almost like she’s saying “leave us alone.” It always results in people jumping back in fear, and me running away sweating and embarrassed because I don’t know how to handle that kind of confrontation.

    The stubborn persistent person who can’t walk past her without petting her, is often greeted by 10 seconds of her seeming to enjoy the petting, but then eventually she will growl/bark at them to stop, and the person always looks at me nervous/angry……meanwhile I had asked them not to pet my dog. There are also times where the situation is completely out of my control, For example, one time when I was sitting on a park bench minding my business feeding my dog a treat and petting her, when a man snuck up from behind us both to pet her, frightening her, causing her to lash out with a mean bark. Like if something had happened, I would’ve been in trouble, but it wouldn’t have even been my fault. I want to correct this behavior, but is it even possible? Is this just how she is and I just need to move to a farm in the middle of nowhere?

    She isn’t an aggressive dog, she is a complete lovebug and anyone who meets her inside of her safe haven (aka our home) she greets with the wiggliest of all wiggly butts out there. But, unfortunately, she is very uneasy on-leash and unpredictable for us. The fact that she is a Staffy doesn’t help our cause in public 🙁


    Minette Reply:

    as a dog owner you must keep this from happening. All it takes is one bite to have your dog deemed dangerous


  24. Cynthia says:

    I have a 3 year old Aussie who lives with 2 cats & loves them, HOWEVER if a cat is picked up off the ground whether near her or not she’ll move quickly & try to bite it. How can I stop this behavior? Anything being lifted up becomes a toy!


  25. Cynthia says:

    I have a 3 year old Aussie who lives with 2 cats & loves them, HOWEVER if a cat is picked up off the ground whether near her or not she’ll move quickly & try to bite it. How can I stop this behavior? Anything being lifted up becomes a toy! She also loves me obsessively but does not accept my older sister & father.


  26. Jane says:

    My suggestion would be to have your vet do a thyroid panel on your dog. That behavior could possibly be connected to hypothyroidism. It’s more common than many realize. Good luck! I have a staffie too:)


  27. Tracy says:

    My dog doesn’t like to be touched, will play ball with anyone willing but will only let me and other adults he knows touch him.
    He’s a border collie and in my experience they mostly seem to be a nervous breed.
    I’ve had home from a puppy and he’s never been mistreated and he use to love being brushed and I’ve always been soooooo gentle, if I find a small matt I’ll cut it rather than pull.
    Which is why I don’t understand why he is now tenses up when I touch his back legs side or stomach and if I attempt to brush him he stares and will bite the brush and this has started very recently he’s 10 year old.
    He would always tolerate it before even though I could see he prefer me not to. But now I get the brush and literally no more pressure than my hand he must barley feel it yet he’ll bite the brush and he is not playing and he knows that I’m afraid he’ll bite me even though I don’t think he would he’s not a bad dog just afraid but I don’t understand why????


    Minette Reply:

    Perhaps it is time for a trip to your vet. Pain can cause changes in behavior.


  28. Rose says:

    My family and I have a 8 months old Cockerspaniël. When she was smaller, she loved being pet and getting attention, but for some reason she now walks away when we try to pet her and she even growls at us when we pet her or try to cuddle her. However, half an hour later she suddenly is very excited and jumps on to our lap. It is very weird and confusing, because sometimes when we pet her, she suddenly acts as if she is afraid of us and all her muscles tense as she growls. She has never acted like this before, it just started with her 8th month. Could it have something to do with puberty?


  29. Kat says:

    My dog loves to cuddle, but I never get a big reaction out of him when I pet him. Does he not like to be pet or does he just not show it? He is a very expressive dog, but he doesn’t even wag his tail when I pet him. I know it’s not because he doesn’t like being touched because he adores snuggling. What does this mean?


    Minette Reply:

    Some dogs enjoy cuddling but not petting. These are two very different types of interaction. Petting can be overstimulating or just irritating. Stick with what he likes and do less of what he doesn’t like.

    I know my dogs’ enjoy petting because when I stop they pester me to pet more. They also solicit cuddling. However, I have had dogs that just want to sit next to me or touch me but HATE cuddling.

    It is about finding what they like and trying to provide that on our terms of course


  30. Heather says:

    So nice to find this article, even though it’s a bit old. ?

    We have a wonderful female black lab who’s just over 2. About 6 months ago, she started showing her teeth when people petted her head. We got worried, monitored it and then contacted our trainer, who told us it wasn’t all that uncommon and verified that she’s not aggressive at all.

    As we started working with her, we started realizing some things about her. She LOVES to “work”…scent work, tracking, agility, tricks, hunting…we’d known that since we first brought her home at 8 weeks. We also knew that she doesn’t want to cuddle or be loved on when she’s “working”…it’s a time for business. LOL! Although she napped for hours in my lap when she was little and still likes to lay right next to me, she just doesn’t like to cuddle.

    She does walk up to people to smell them when they come in the yard, but doesn’t really want to be touched unless she knows them really well. She’ll sometimes sit and look like she wants pets and then doesn’t. (So nice to read that in your article…it’s so frustrating and I felt like she was only one who did that.) I’m getting better at recognizing the signs and we’re trying to teach her to just leave when she’s had enough, but it’s hard. It’s especially hard when people insist that “dogs love them” and it’ll be fine or that we should punish her.

    Thanks again for the article!


  31. Sara says:

    I feel so relieved after reading through everyone else’s experiences.
    I have a 2.5 year old border collie who hates being stroked. I’ve been thinking he doesn’t like me and just uses me for walks and food. He follows me everywhere, he’s very loyal, he’s extremely intelligent and so easy to train, he just lacks affection. He sleeps at the top of the stairs and he’s the most adorable loving dog when he greets me first thing. But after that he doesn’t want touched. He moves when I try to stroke him and growls when I do. Now I know I’m not alone and others have the same problem I feel so much better. Although I’m not going to pretend I’m not disappointed, I love cuddles and hoped I’d have a loving cuddly dog. I’m far more likely to get cuddles of my cat. I’m not really a cat person but she shows me far more love than my collie ever has.


    Minette Reply:

    I think some dogs have “autistic” types of problems and this is one of them. They love you, but they get overwhelmed or over stimulated by touch. It is better to find a way to give them what they want (play or companionship) and stop trying to force them to deal with what they don’t want. We wouldn’t force an autistic child to be hugged everyday if they didn’t like it 😉 You can now understand and help change your relationship


  32. Michelle says:

    I think you have to accept what you got. I have the pup off my sisters dog# which is super affectionate but was pretty dominanant. Odie (trhe pup) was the runt and when I changed house she completely changed. She barks at everybody coming into the house…even a guy living there 4 years. It’s hard work. Always apologizing for her being a crank but she’s really a sweetie. Just the way it is now and my friends are kinda used to her. It still sucks though coz she’s really such a softie but she’s awful around strangers.


  33. Michelle says:

    How did it work out with you doggie? Did she settle in?


  34. Sandy says:

    I wish you had gotten a response to this. My 14 yr old havanese barely seems to want to be around me. She was never snuggly but seemed to love being near people and played with. Now, unless there’s food around, she will even go to the other floor of the house 🙁 I think her sight and hearing are dimming so I wonder if that has something to do with it. It’s heartbreaking. If I knew she was happy I’d let her be, but it’s hard to tell.


    Minette Reply:

    I’d go to the vet and see if there are medications that will help her feel better. At 14 I am assuming arthritis and age changes are at play.


  35. Annie says:

    I have a 9yr old German Shepherd, since puppy days he did not like being handled picked up or cuddled BUT he loved having you talk to him! Weird i know, we have a very cuddly labrador and the German Shepherd has now i think copying the labbie, become a cuddler not too long not too claustrophobic but he cuddles- all we did was raise him with plenty love and attention and allowed him to love us on his own terms and over time he has become the most amazing loving and affectionate dog ive ever had.


  36. Laurita says:

    First I want to say thank you, feels good to know that not only am I not the only one with an unaffectionate dog but also that it’s ok! Except that I have three children that want to pet their puppy. She was 3 months when we got her and is going to turn one year old next month and she is just… not a cuddled. She will rarely tolerate being pet on her back or head and while she doesn’t actually bite she will bare her teeth and grab your hand. She will crawl underneath me when I crouch and roll over for a belly rub but she has a limit and I’m learned to deal with it. Her idea of having fun with me is playing tug and laying or leaning on me and fetching sticks. She has become my dog tho… Is there hope for a nip free cuddle session with my kids? My heart breaks for my kids who barely get to play with her because they are afraid of her. She isn’t large, only about 30 pounds and only know she has the coat of a terrier… think giant yorkie or scruffy mini GSD.


  37. Emmanuel says:

    I have a 10 months old Caucasian ovcharka that doesn’t let me touch him when he’s sitting or laying down in a spot. When he’s sitting or laying in a spot and I try approaching him, he begins to lick lips, the whitish part of his eyes shows and ears down with an intimidating facial expression. He does that all the time when I just pass by his side. Also, when I get back from work and he sees me, he gets exited, tails wagging but as i come closer to him he starts to retreat and changes his mood and doesn’t want me to touch him


    Minette Reply:

    I recommend a veterinary behaviorist


  38. Emmanuel says:

    Also, what obedience trainings should I give my pup. she’s 4 months old. and what should I do to a dog that only obeys certain commands when you’ve got treats

    Also, Can I engage with you privately?


    Minette Reply:

    then treats have become bribes and not reinforcers. Look up articles on the difference. Use the search bar at the top of the page to search articles for bribery


  39. Lynne says:

    Is it possible for some advice ? The problem is my sister now has her daughter and 5 year old granddaughter living with her and her husband , the child is totally obsessed with there 9 year old Labrador bitch. The dog has the kindest nature but has to put up with so much from the child who is constantly poking, prodding or laying on top of her. Sometimes the little girl will get up very early in the morning to be found laying with the dog in the dog bed. I have made suggestions to stop her access to the dog or a crate but nothing has been done. The child does have serious issues and other problems which hopefully are being sorted in time. You can explain fifty times to leave three dog alone ….she will say sorry but mins later will do the exact same thing. Even with 3 adults in the house they seem to have given up. Also if she comes on a dog walk she insists on stopping everyone to ask name and age of three dog and wants to hug a complete strange dog. There have been many tantrums if she does not get her own way. Any help gratefully received.


    Minette Reply:

    Honestly I would find a trainer to come into the home and speak to everyone. You cant force other people and change their behaviors but a good trainer can explain how dangerous this is.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *