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The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, often called the Cavalier for short, is a small and wonderful breed that was bred for companionship. Far more dog breeds were bred for work other than keeping people company, so the Cavalier is a favorite of many pet owners who want a dog to hang out, cuddle, and be their best friend.
In this article we will explore the cuddliness of the average Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, how to encourage your Cavalier to cuddle, and why your Cavalier may not want to cuddle.
Are Cavaliers Good at Cuddling?
The average Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is exceptionally good at cuddling and snuggling. After all, their origins date back to the 17th century where their ancestors were kept as the company to English royalty.
The Cavalier as its own, distinct breed was developed about 100 years ago, using a variety of toy spaniels from years prior to create the breed that is known and loved today.
As a general rule, the Cavalier knows no strangers. They love everyone they meet, regardless if it’s people, dogs, or even cats!
When you want a dog for snuggling, you simply can’t go wrong with choosing a breed that was designed to be a cuddly lap dog, such as the Cavalier.
Many Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are also exceptional therapy dogs – visiting nursing homes, hospitals, and other places where people need the cheer of a snuggling dog.
In fact, one of my favorite therapy dogs (besides my own, of course!) from my local therapy dog chapter a decade ago was a Cavalier.
She was a puppy mill rescue, and was missing half of her back foot due to living on a wire floor for years.
As most dog trainers will tell you, puppy mill dogs often suffer from behavior problems due to a lack of socialization and poor breeding practices.
However, this little Cavalier was true to her breed. She still loved every single person and dog she came across, and was often picked up and put in the laps of those we were visiting, where she would snuggle and wait until it was time to visit the next person.
It was a joy to watch her bring comfort to so many people, and to see the best nature of the Cavalier at work.
How Do Cavaliers Like to Cuddle?
All dogs are individuals within their breeds, and may have their own favorite way to cuddle. However, there are general dos and don’ts when it comes to cuddling with dogs, including Cavaliers, to ensure your dog is enjoying it, too.
In general, Cavaliers love to cuddle on laps. They may want to be fully on your lap or snuggle next to your lap while resting their head on your legs, but laps are their favorite place!
More often than not, you’ll probably find your Cavalier seeking out cuddles on their own.
They may also want to sleep with you, if you allow dogs in your bed and your Cavalier is potty trained.
Some Cavaliers may want to sleep in the crook behind your knees, while others prefer to keep your head warm and curl up on your pillow.
How to Encourage Your Cavalier to Cuddle
It’s often best to invite your Cavalier for cuddling, rather than to always pick them up and hold them for cuddling. That way, if your dog just wants to do something else at the moment, you don’t cause any bad feelings by “holding them hostage” for cuddles.
Dogs do best when they feel like they have choices in their life. A dog that always feels forced into something can start to resent the activity.
You should also pay close attention to what your Cavalier likes and doesn’t like.
You may find that your Cavalier doesn’t like being on your lap when you sit in the recliner, because the arms cause them to feel more trapped, but that they love sleeping next to you on the couch.
You may also find that your Cavalier prefers to cuddle up close in a small space, such as your lap or squeezed in next to you while you relax in a favorite comfy chair.
If your Cavalier enjoys certain pets the most, you can use that to help encourage them to cuddle as well.
Instead of playing with their feet while they cuddle if they are scared of having their feet touched, consider scratches under their chin instead.
You can also teach your Cavalier a cue to jump up next to you, or a cue to be prepared to be picked up.
It can be scary for some dogs to feel like they were picked up out of the blue. Teaching them a cue, such as “get set!” that means you are about to pick them up, can help them feel more comfortable.
You may also find that your Cavalier benefits from stairs to the couch or bed, especially if they suffer from something such as patellar luxation, which unfortunately is not uncommon in the breed.
Why Doesn’t My Cavalier Want to Cuddle?
There are a variety of reasons your Cavalier may not want to cuddle. They may be an outlier for their breed, they may be too hot, or they may be worried about something. If you pay attention to your Cavalier’s body language, you can often decipher the reason they don’t want to cuddle.
If they cuddle sometimes, but not others, then you can compare what is different about each scenario.
For example, I own two Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers. They are a fluffy breed that originated in Canada, so they are more than content with colder weather.
In the summer, especially on nights where the air is off but it’s still warmer than usual, they rarely cuddle at night.
In fact, they seek out the hard plastic bottom of a kennel or the tile floor of the bathroom to sleep on instead, to keep themselves cool.
However, in the winter, they love to snuggle! I will confess that sometimes, when I open the window a crack so I can cuddle under lots of blankets at night, I also am hopeful that it makes my dogs even more likely to snuggle me!
It may also be the case that your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is simply busy and preoccupied with something else.
Due to their spaniel heritage, they may be fully engrossed in the bird feeder outside of the window, and prefer to chortle at birds than to take a nap at the moment.
When you should be concerned is if you attempt to pick up your Cavalier and are met with attempts to escape or avoid you, which demonstrates that your Cavalier is worried about what happens after being picked up.
They may not like being picked up in general, or they may be concerned about what happens after they are picked up – are they getting a bath? Being put in their kennel? Being squeezed and kissed in the face!
You can solve this problem by teaching your Cavalier a cue for picking them up to snuggle, or by simply asking your Cavalier to jump up on your lap instead.
If the problem is new, it’s also a possibility that there is a medical reason why your Cavalier doesn’t want to be picked up.
A variety of illnesses and diseases can occur in dogs that causes them discomfort when they are picked up or carried, so a veterinary visit is best to rule out a painful reason for their behavior if the change is sudden.
Ramps and stairs are great when dogs need a little extra help, too.
Without the stress of being forced into a snuggle, your Cavalier will likely find their snuggly side and be a cuddle bug in no time!