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We all want to love, cuddle, and hold our cute little puppies! However, sometimes it seems that our puppies would rather spend their days running around and chasing toys instead of snuggling. Let’s dive into reasons why your puppy isn’t cuddly, and how to help them enjoy cuddling more.

When do puppies become affectionate?

As with many things in dogs, all puppies are individuals and there’s no specific age or time when your puppy will become affectionate. However, there are ways you can help your dog learn to enjoy affection and choosing a breed that loves to snuggle is one of the ways you can find a cuddly puppy for your home.

In general, puppies tend to be more affectionate if they are bred for companionship. Some breeds, such as many of the breeds in the Toy group, were bred specifically to snuggle!

Other breeds, including many of the hound and working breeds, would rather spend their time independently. This makes sense when considering that their original purpose was to help on a hunt or perform another job, often at a distance from their humans.

Many young puppies are still plenty affectionate, especially when they first leave their litter and still are seeking the warmth and comfort of someone when they sleep.

However, as puppies grow up, you tend to see changes that are dependent on their breed, individual life experiences, and personalities.

Sometimes, this results in a cuddlier dog. Other times, dogs start to become more independent and seek less attention.

Either way, though, there are some steps you can take to help your dog enjoy snuggling if you’d like to cuddle with your puppy.

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Do dogs cuddle more when they get older or when they are sick?

Oftentimes, as a dog becomes an adult, you might actually see them cuddle less. They are learning to be independent – which is an excellent skill to prevent separation anxiety!

However, there are dogs that do grow to love cuddling more with age. This is usually due to their owners helping to make them comfortable with snuggling, rather than pushing them to cuddle when they don’t want to.

The answer is very similar when we talk about sick dogs – it depends.

If your dog naturally likes to cuddle, they might seek more attention and cuddle more when they don’t feel well. This is especially true if they are seeking reassurance.

However, sometimes dogs just want to be left alone when they are sick, much like some people. Rather than cuddle, you might find your dog being more lethargic and spending more time on their own.

Rather, you might find your puppy cuddling more when YOU are the one who is sick.

Dogs often have a good sense of how we feel, and they sometimes offer extra snuggles and attention when we are feeling under the weather.

If your dog doesn’t cuddle when you’re sick, that’s OK too though. Not all dogs show their affection for their owner the same way. 

If you think your puppy may be scared of you or other people, then be sure to read our post on that subject here.

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Why won’t my dog cuddle with me anymore?

There are a variety of reasons why your once-cuddly puppy doesn’t want to snuggle anymore. Some of these are temporary, while others might be a more permanent change in your dog’s comfort level for cuddles.

Sometimes, your dog is simply too warm to enjoy a cuddle session! If your dog has a lot of fur, or if the weather is warmer than usual, your dog simply might not be comfortable with the added heat.

For example, my Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers, Windigo and Hobbes, are quite fluffy. They love to snuggle, but they love being comfortable and cool more.

In the winter, both dogs spend much of their time sleeping in bed snuggled close to me. In the summer, however, or if we’ve turned the air off and it’s not as cool as they’d like, they tend to sleep on their own. They sometimes even prefer sleeping on the hardwood or tile floors because of the difference in temperature.

If your dog is a breed that isn’t typically cuddly, it might just be that your puppy is growing up and becoming more independent. Not all dogs enjoy snuggling, so if that’s important to you, it’s best to get a puppy from a breed that’s known to enjoy cuddling.

Here is a list of dog breeds more likely to cuddle:

  • Affenpinscher
  • Bichon Frise
  • Bolognese
  • Brussels Griffon
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
  • Cavapoo
  • Chihuahua
  • Chinese Crested
  • French Bulldog
  • Havanese
  • Japanese Chin
  • Maltipoo
  • Pekingese
  • Pomeranian
  • Pug
  • Shih Tzu
  • Tibetan Spaniel

Another reason your dog might not like to cuddle is because they had a bad experience cuddling. Sometimes, if your dog was stressed by being forced to cuddle, they might want to avoid that activity because it made them uncomfortable.

While forcing your dog into a situation they don’t like is rarely a good idea because it can put you at risk of a dog bite, it also often means that your dog simply won’t like that situation anymore.

Spending time to get your dog comfortable with cuddling is important if you want it to be an activity you and your puppy can enjoy together.

How to get your dog to cuddle with you

As we previously discussed, the first step to getting your puppy to cuddle with you is to avoid forcing them to snuggle.

In addition, there are several techniques you can try to help teach your puppy to enjoy cuddling.

Let your dog set the terms of cuddling

If your dog wants to only cuddle with their head, that’s OK! If they prefer to cuddle when you’re on the floor with them rather than on the couch, that’s great too.

When you let your dog set the terms of what is OK and what is not OK with them for cuddling, you’ll end up with a dog that chooses to cuddle more often.

Look for moments when your dog is choosing to show you affection and cuddle. As your dog snuggles, make sure to calmly and gently praise and pet them for their choice.

Pay attention to when your dog is choosing to cuddle and use that to your advantage. If your dog regularly likes cuddling when it’s bedtime, or right away in the morning, or after a walk, you can predict when it’s best to set up a snuggle session with your pup.

Most dogs don’t like hugs – it usually raises their stress and anxiety levels – so focus instead on snuggling in a way where your dog can easily leave without a struggle.

If they don’t feel restrained, they’re also more likely to learn to love cuddling. That feeling of restraint can often make your dog want to leave even if they were enjoying cuddling before you hugged them.

Teach them to cuddle as a trick

Sometimes, the best way to teach your dog to enjoy snuggling and cuddling is to train them to do so as a fun trick. This way, your dog will learn to enjoy cuddling because they get treats, and you’ll get the benefits of a cuddly dog!

One of the easiest ways to teach this to your dog is to teach them a “chin rest” where they learn to put their head on something. This is ideal for many larger dogs that wouldn’t fit into a lap, but can rest their head on you instead.

For small dogs, you can also teach them to go to a bed or blanket and then put that in your lap.

In some cases, you can even train your dog to do Deep Pressure Therapy, which is a task that many service dogs perform to help their owners.

Just because your dog is trained to give Deep Pressure Therapy doesn’t make them a service dog, though. Faking a service dog comes with fines and potential jail time in many places.

Instead, if you aren’t disabled and don’t need a full-time service dog, you can just train the task for your own personal benefit at home. Deep Pressure Therapy can help with anxiety and related problems, even if they aren’t disabling for you.

Before you go, read our post: Giving puppies attention, and how much is needed at each age.