You might have expected that once you had a dog, you two would be head over heels for each other.
Your pooch will always follow you around.
And they’re also up for kisses and cuddles any time.
But sadly, this isn’t true for all Fidos.
Some of them might be distant from people.
Keep reading to learn:
- 11 simple ways to get your dog to cuddle with you.
- How to show affection without doing any physical contact.
- 4 proven ‘sweet spots’ that could motivate your dog to do this.
- What you should do to earn their trust and strengthen your bond.
- And many more…
Table of contents
- How do I make my dog more cuddly?
- 11 ways to get your dog to cuddle with you
- #1: Earn their full trust first
- #2: Spend more time with them
- #3: Learn to read between the lines
- #4: Make yourself more inviting
- #5: Know their ‘cuddling’ boundaries
- #6: Show them affection
- #7: Always talk in a soothing voice
- #8: Slowly get them used to being fondled
- #9: Use positive reinforcement
- #10: Provide them enough ‘alone time’
- #11: Be patient
How do I make my dog more cuddly?
You can make your dog more cuddly by getting their trust first. To do this, give them their needs, spend more time with them, and understand their body language. Let them come to you and respect their space. Also, you can train them to cuddle by giving treats and praises. And lastly, give them time.
11 ways to get your dog to cuddle with you
#1: Earn their full trust first
Cuddling is an intimate activity. So some dogs may find it uncomfortable.
Certain breeds like Shiba Inus are known for their ‘cat-like’ aloofness. And most of them might not be up for it.
While other dogs are natural cuddlers. Say, Golden Retrievers and Great Danes, a.k.a. the ‘gentle giants.’
But no matter what breed your dog is, if they’re not used to cuddling, they’ll avoid it too. And also if they had bad experiences with people.
So, if you want them to accept it, you must earn their trust first.
By giving them what they need, such as:
- Basic needs: Food, water, security, and love.
- Exercise: Both physical and mental stimulation.
- Training: This will give them a sense of achievement. And it’ll also strengthen your bond. Teach them a few basic tricks like sit, stay, or down.
This will take some time. And this is because you can’t force a dog to immediately be comfortable with you.
However, once the work is done, you’ll see amazing results.
Note: While training, never give your dog a reason to be afraid of you. Don’t scold or punish them. Instead, motivate them to behave correctly using rewards.
Reading recommendation: 21 Signs Your Dog Fully Trusts You (With His Life!)
#2: Spend more time with them
Next, if you have a new or fearful dog, let them get used to your presence first.
But if they’re not, being around with them for a few more minutes every day can also make a difference. Especially on your bond.
This can be as simple as a 10 to 15-minute grooming time. Or just lying near your pooch by the couch or bed. (Well, don’t get too close yet if they’re still uncomfy.)
Then while you’re doing this, also talk to them in a soft voice.
Tell them how much you love them. Or anything you could think of at the moment.
Your dog may not understand all the words you said. But, speaking to them is a form of attention.
And it’s an effective way to show them you care as well.
Aside from these, you can also spend more time with your dog by:
- Playing with them.
- Exercising together.
- Teaching them tricks.
Interesting fact: Walking your dog will not only strengthen your bond. It also has many health benefits for the two of you. Research has found that dog parents walk 22 minutes more every day than those who don’t have any Fidos. And walking regularly helps reduce the risks of heart diseases and diabetes.
On the other hand, canines will also have stronger muscles and healthier bodies. Plus, they’ll be less prone to boredom and anxiety.
So it’s truly a win-win situation.
#3: Learn to read between the lines
Dogs can’t tell us exactly what they feel or need.
But, they can bark to communicate with us. And oftentimes, their bodies will also do the ‘talking.’
This is why it’s also important for parents to understand their Fidos’ body language.
It’s even more crucial in this case. And this is because you have to see whether your dog’s comfortable with the number of cuddles you give.
“So, how can you tell if a dog is relaxed?”
According to PDSA, a happy pooch will have:
- Soft eyes.
- Floppy ears.
- Loose shoulders.
- A wagging tail (in circles or mostly to the right).
While anxious Fidos will show these signs:
- Lip licking.
- Leaning away.
- Licking their nose.
- Showing their belly.
- Diverting their gaze.
- Sniffing the ground/air.
And in terms of appearance, they’ll also have:
- A tucked tail.
- Raised hackles.
- A lowered head and ears
So, pay close attention to your dog whenever you touch or go near them. Watch their reactions. And see if they’re uncomfy or not.
Make sure that the type of cuddling or petting you do is within their comfort level.
By doing this, they’ll not be overwhelmed. And they may learn to accept more cuddles in the future.
Interesting fact: Yawning is one of the common indicators of anxiety in dogs. Especially if it’s done excessively. But, did you know that it’s also contagious in Fidos? Yup. One study even says that they do it more when the person yawning is someone familiar.
#4: Make yourself more inviting
So now that you’re already spending more time with them. And you can also somehow read what’s on their mind…
Don’t force them yet for any cuddling sessions.
Instead, wait and let your dog come to you.
“How am I going to do this?”
By making yourself relaxed and more inviting to them.
You can’t explain to your Fido how much they’re welcomed in your personal space.
However, you can show it with your actions.
- Quietly lay down or sit near your dog. (But still, keep a comfortable distance from them.)
- Pretend to ignore them and just do your own thing. Say, read a book, watch a movie, or browse on your phone. Because if you pay too much attention to them, they might be pressured or intimidated.
- Try to relax as much as possible. Remember, dogs can sense our emotions. So, avoid getting excited or frustrated when they don’t come.
- Then wait. Your pooch may come near you if they sense that you’re calm and harmless.
Some dogs might even sniff or sleep beside their humans. Which has left many dog parents in shock after waking up with a wet snout near their face.
Note: Before we move on to the next, let me tell you this. The scenario above may or may not happen the first time you do it with your pooch. So, keep on doing this. And try to communicate with them in a way that’s easier for them to understand.
#5: Know their ‘cuddling’ boundaries
Does your dog only allow you to touch them in certain areas?
If so, take note of those parts. Then, respect their decision.
Say, if your dog likes their back to be scratched, do so.
But if they hate being touched in the tummy, never attempt it. (Unless you’re doing the 8th tip.)
This way, you’ll still earn their trust. As they can see that you’re not forcing them to do something they dislike.
Also, keep in mind that dogs who had rough past experiences may develop a sensitivity to touch.
So even the spots that are considered ‘safe’ for most canines might also be off-limits to them. Like the chest or ears.
If this is your case, it’ll take a longer time for your dog to be okay with cuddling.
However, still see how much physical contact they can tolerate.
Note: Do this slowly to not scare your dog even further.
#6: Show them affection
If your dog’s still uncomfortable with cuddles…
You can still do this without any physical contact.
As I said earlier, giving your dog their basic needs is already a display of love. As well as spending some quality time with them every day.
But, you can also show it by simply praising them.
Whenever they’re well-behaved or calm, say “good dog!” in a sweet voice. Like if they’re being quiet or just lying down on the floor.
It’s a form of attention. Plus, dogs are known to be people-pleasers so praises have a positive effect on them. Which could make them open up to you.
Interesting fact: We already know the different ways to show affection to dogs. But do you ever wonder what their love signals for us? You may have noticed some of these already. And they’re the following:
- Leaning on you.
- Nudging you with their nose.
- Licking you (a.k.a. doggy kisses).
- Rolling on their back with a relaxed face and tail.
- Sighing or groaning when you’re around (this is a sign of contentment).
- Gazing at you (study shows that by doing this, both dogs and owners’ ‘love hormones’ a.k.a. oxytocin increases).
#7: Always talk in a soothing voice
Canines are also sensitive to our tone.
They’re going to base on it to know whether we’re happy, sad, or angry.
So, if you’d like to convey your love for your pooch, how will you talk to them?
By speaking calmly or excitedly. Or what most people refer to as ‘dog or baby talk’
The exaggeration of intonation is done to aid babies in learning languages.
But in canines, talking to them in this tone was said to be helpful in getting their trust and attention.
“How did they come up with this?”
One research has found that dogs prefer people who speak in ‘baby talk.’
The canines listened to 2 different speakers. One speaks in ‘dog talk.’ While the other talks normally.
After the tests, the dogs were allowed to roam in the room where the speakers are. Then they observed that canines looked longer at the speaker who spoke sweetly. And they also sat more beside the person.
So if you’d like to get your Fido’s trust, speak to them in your best ‘dog talk.’
And who knows, you might be able to invite them over for a cuddle soon! 🙂
#8: Slowly get them used to being fondled
If your dog’s already opening up to you. Or if they seem more comfortable with the occasional petting…
You may now start ‘training’ them to cuddle with you.
- First, quietly lay down or sit near your dog.
- Avoid direct contact and only steal glances from them. To see if they’re comfy or getting closer to you.
- Wait until they come to you.
- If they did, gently begin petting areas that are less sensitive to most dogs. Like their sides.
- And also, praise them while doing it.
- Look at their body language too. If they’re stressed, stop right away. But if they’re alright with the contact, slowly work your way to a different area.
Note: There are spots in a dog’s body that are said to be connected to their brain’s pleasure center. So touching these areas can help you make your dog more cuddly:
- Chin and chest.
- Sides of the body.
- Front part of their ears.
- The insides of their hindlegs.
You should first touch a dog you’ve just met in the chin or chest. And not on the top of their head because it’s intimidating.
So if you’re starting to train your dog, you may begin in those areas first.
To know more about this, watch the short clip below:
But what if your dog’s still nervous about getting touched?
You may have to resort to the last weapon…
#9: Use positive reinforcement
Motivating your dog to do something using treats is good.
But, they must not fully depend on it as it can add up to their weight and affect their condition. Especially if it’s an unhealthy snack.
However, if your dog still doesn’t come to you, you can bribe them with yummy treats.
- Show it to your dog.
- Put some near them.
- Wait until they eat it.
- Repeat at least 5 times.
- Then gradually, lay the treats closer and closer to you. Until your dog is already beside you.
- Coming from their sides (not in front of them), lightly pat their back or chest.
- If they’re calm, quickly give a treat and praise them.
- But if they’re not, go back one step. And repeat the previous instructions.
Then as you progress, slowly reduce the treats you’re giving to them. Until all that’s left are verbal praises.
Note: Make sure the treats you’ll prepare are tasty but healthy. Like small bits of apple or plain boiled chicken meat.
#10: Provide them enough ‘alone time’
I said that you should spend time with your dog as much as you can.
But, this doesn’t mean that you have to be with them 24/7. And that they shouldn’t be left alone.
Like us, ‘alone time’ is also important in dogs. This is because it lets them rest and explore things on their own.
So, if they want to be left alone, let them be.
Respect their space. And might as well give them a safe quiet place to do it. Like a crate or an exercise pen.
“How long is alone time for dogs?”
AKC says that canines shouldn’t be left on their own for more than 6 to 8 hours.
#11: Be patient
Lastly, give it time, and don’t force it to happen right away. Especially if you have a rescue dog who needs more time.
It could take weeks, months, or even years for some dogs to warm up and be certified cuddlers.
So, continue showing love to your pooch, and you’ll see that they’ll give it back in time.
If it seems like your pooch is naturally aloof and distant, accept them as they are.
Don’t take it personally as they don’t love you any less.
It’s their personality. And I’m certain that your dog will show their love in many other ways.
Note: If your dog has become less affectionate all of a sudden, it’s best to have them checked by a vet. This is to rule out any possible medical reasons.
And if they’re extremely anxious…
Check out this article next: 19 Proven Ways To Calm Your Anxious Dog (How-To Guide)