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Who doesn’t love to cuddle their poodle? But what happens when your poodle doesn’t want to cuddle you back?

In this article, we’ll talk about reasons your poodle might not want to cuddle, and how to help them (and yourself) figure out if cuddling with your poodle can become a thing.

Why my poodle doesn’t like to cuddle or be held

Dogs in general don’t have the same desire for close physical contact that we, as humans, crave on a regular basis. The idea of being held close, especially in a position that puts them at a physical disadvantage, can elicit feelings of discomfort and anxiety.

This is a throwback to their wild canine heritage, where being held feels like being pinned down by a pack-mate, adversary, or predator. It feels like a threat to their safety and so they’ll show their discomfort and often try to escape.

Poodles who aren’t used to human contact and handling could react aggressively or exhibit non-verbal signs of stress. While the poodles who don’t react violently aren’t telling you “no” outright, they’re still trying to communicate that they don’t like it.

If your poodle dislikes cuddling, they’ll probably give subtle signs at first, maybe shivering, licking their lips, wide-open eyes, and looking away from you.

Less subtle signs include obvious attempts to escape, running away when they see you coming, leaving the couch or chair when you approach and sit, or even growling.

It’s imperative to pay attention to, and respect, these non-verbal “No” signals coming from your poodle. If you ignore these signs, your poodle might eventually take a more affirmative stance, resulting in a growl that could lead to a bite!

How to get my poodle to cuddle

If your poodle avoids cuddling, tries to escape your grasp, or even resorts to growling and biting, it’s not fair to force them to cooperate.

Imagine one of your least favorite activities, something that gives you anxiety and makes you feel like you can’t be yourself. That could be how your poodle feels when you force them to cuddle! In this case, it’s better to respect their personal space and love them the way they want to be loved, with some space.

It’s a different story when you have a young, friendly poodle that doesn’t shy away from human contact. When your poodle is at an age where learning something new is easy.

Younger dogs are more adaptable than older dogs, especially if they already have a good temperament. If you want your poodle to like being cuddled, make it a positive experience every time!

After they’ve mastered basic obedience (sit, down, stay, wait, etc) start by teaching them a command like “up”, where you invite them onto furniture or into your lap.

Reward them with a treat every time they do what you ask. Next, get them used to handling by rewarding calm, relaxed behavior when you pick them up, with even MORE treats and praise!

When they’re comfortable with being in your lap, and being picked up, you can graduate to even closer contact (but never forget the treats!).

Remember, you can’t force your poodle to like something. If they genuinely don’t have an affinity for human affection, you can still be satisfied by having a calm, obedient dog.

Even the most avoidant dogs might eventually, with gentle coaxing (and treats, treats, treats) be comfortable joining you on the couch or sitting on your lap, but it still needs to be their choice.

If your poodle is a bit older, and doesn’t like cuddling or much human contact, then it’s still a good idea to follow the above advice. They may never truly love having cuddle time, but the more you make close interaction a positive experience, the more they will like it.

The worse thing to do is to force your poodle into a cuddling situation they don’t like. This will further instill in them an aversion to cuddling.

giving-kibble treat to dog

Do Toy Poodles like to cuddle?

Toy poodles are a lap dog, but there’s no guarantee they’ll love close cuddles. Breeders might be able to provide temperament history, which can help you pick a puppy that favors human contact. Giving them positive cuddle exposure early in life can help them get accustomed to it.

Do Miniature Poodles like to cuddle?

There’s no guarantee that a miniature poodle will like cuddles. You can still stack the odds in your favor by asking for temperament history from the breeder, who can help you choose a puppy that favors human contact. It’s also important to handle them early in life so they get accustomed to it.

Do Standard Poodles like to cuddle?

Standard poodles are the least likely to cuddle of the three poodle sizes. This doesn’t make them any less cuddly, however. In fact, standard poodles are treated much more like dogs, and much less like accessories or stuffed animals, so they can be surprisingly cuddly without even trying. It’s still important to make cuddles a positive and voluntary activity, to reduce any anxiety they might feel about it.

Poodle doesn’t like to cuddle all of a sudden

If your poodle has always been a cuddler, and they’re suddenly shying away from it, it’s important to figure out why.

The reason could be for a variety of reasons from anxiety to pain, to less obvious health conditions.

But don’t panic. You can start trying to figure it out at home yourself.

Watch your poodle’s behavior and consider these questions:

  • Do they get upset when you pick them up?
  • Are they having a hard time getting up onto furniture?
  • Do they seem painful anywhere?

And think about things that have happened recently:

  • Did you have any visitors who aren’t gentle with dogs?
  • Could they have been roughly handled by an inexperienced adult, or maybe a child?
  • Did they get dropped, or have anything else scary happen whilst in someone’s arms?
  • Were they yelled at recently, or could have they had a bad experience with you?

If you can’t narrow down a specific event that may have scared them away from handling, it’s probably time to make a vet appointment to rule out anything else like an injury or illness.

Things like back, neck, or joint pain can make cuddling unbearable. If your poodle is sick, they can also become suddenly unsociable.

After a thorough physical exam, your veterinarian may recommend running some lab work to see if there are any internal abnormalities.

If you believe that your poodle’s sudden disinterest in cuddling or close contact could be due to an experience, then it’s best to give them lots of treats in the situations that are bothering them.

Give them the space they need to recover emotionally, and reward them when they venture into uncomfortable territory.

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