Soft snuggly cuddles from our little puppies to large dogs are, in my opinion, some of life’s greatest rewards, right up there with Chocolate and Ice Cream! My favorite time of day is late in the evening when my little dog Bear cuddles up to me and rests his head on my chest or lap. It got me thinking…… do all dogs like to cuddle? What if Bear didn’t like cuddling, would it be possible to teach him? I did some research and here’s what I found out.
Not all dogs inherently love cuddling with their owners. Having a dog that likes to cuddle with you can greatly depend on their breed and temperament. One of the most cuddly dog breeds is the Golden Retriever, one of the least cuddly breeds is the Afgan Hound. With time and patience and practice understanding your dog’s body language it is possible to train and encourage cuddling as a behavior in your dog. If you do train your dog to cuddle with you, beware it may not be long before your pooch is begging for your undivided cuddles and attention.
In this article, we’ll take a look at reasons why our dogs like to cuddle with us and what we can do to encourage the behavior. There are also some surprising reasons why they might not be wanting to cuddle. Let’s learn together how to better understand and communicate with our dogs so we can unearth the power of the all-important unspoken language of love and cuddling!
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Why Do Dogs Like to Cuddle
Dogs love cuddles for a few reasons, first they cuddle for warmth. Cuddling for warmth goes way back to a dog’s early days when they had to cuddle in order to survive the frigid night air in early domestication dogs cuddled up to their owners to provide warmth to both parties. When puppies are first born their natural instinct is to cuddle up to each other and their mothers for warmth and safety.
Dogs cuddle for attention, affection, and to increase their bond with us.
It’s tempting to jump into a discussion about the age-old question: are cats better than dogs, but we’ll have to save that one for another day. One thing that is scientifically proven, however, is that dogs definitely need more cuddle time with their owners than their feline counterparts do. The Today Show tells us of a scientific study done that shows dogs release 5 times more oxytocin (the love hormone) when they see, cuddle, and play with their owners than cats do.
So yes, our dogs are hard-wired to desire our love and affection, and the great thing is we benefit from it too! Petting, talking to, and especially cuddling has shown to release that all-important Oxytocin for both us and our four-legged friends, reducing stress, and increasing our mutual trust and bond with each other.
That’s great news right! So then what if you are among the unlucky group who have a dog that doesn’t like to cuddle…..
Why Does My Dog Not Like Cuddling
There are several reasons why your dog may not be showing as much affection to you as you would like. Some dogs naturally need more space. Depending on their breed and temperament they might not be as comfortable snuggling up to their human as other dogs. There is a big difference between a cuddle and a hug. In general, dogs don’t like to be hugged! It’s important that we recognize this and never force or restrain our dogs into doing something they aren’t comfortable with. Doing so could result in some very unpleasant consequences, such as biting, or even further resistance to cuddling.
If your dog has had previous life experience in which he was neglected or abused he may be untrusting of close contact with your or other humans.
Some dogs prefer to attach themselves to one human in the household and reserve most of their affection for that special Alpha in their life.
He may be showing affection in a different way. Our dogs love to please us and they may be trying to do just that but we are failing to recognize it. Cuddles aren’t the only way our dog can give us love. Some other ways they show love are by rubbing their nose on you, leaning on you, licking you, making eye contact with you, jumping on you, sniffing you, following you around.
If your dog is in any pain from an injury or old age it may be very uncomfortable for your dog to get close and snuggle with you or receive affection through petting and scratching.
It may be too hot! Our dogs have a higher body temperature than us and it can be harder for them to cool down. It makes sense that if one of the reasons dogs cuddle with us is to get warm then when they are feeling too hot they probably aren’t going to be in the mood for a good long cuddle.
How to Teach Your Dog to Enjoy Cuddling More
When helping your dog learn to enjoy cuddling more here are some important steps you can take:
- Understand a Baseline: Notice where your puppy or dog is at with their desire to cuddle. When do they like to do it, when don’t they? Do they shy away from petting? Is there a particular way they like to be pet and held? Can you recognize their body language and what they are trying to tell you?
- Take advantage of their natural cuddle times: Once you know when, where and how they like to cuddle take advantage of those times and work it into your schedule so you can get maximum cuddle time and your pup will get used to the routine of it.
- Wear Them Out: A tired dog is a well behaved and happy dog, and a lot of times a cuddly dog! Never try and force your dog to cuddle with you when they are full of energy and want to play.
- Bond with your Dog and Build Trust: The more your dog trusts you the more affection and love they will naturally want to give you. Doing things with your dog you know they will enjoy will help you become closer not only emotionally, but physically as well.
- Encourage your dog and reward Behavior you Like: When your dog is cuddling calmly with you in your lap or by your side make it a pleasant experience with a high-value reward attached.
- Get Good at Basic Commands: When your dog gets good at commands like sit, stay, and settle, you can use those to your advantage to help them learn to be calm when it’s cuddle time.
- Name the Cue: As with training your dog most things you’ll want them to understand the word associated with what they are doing. When they know what a cuddle is called then as you get better at communicating with each other you’ll be able to ask for a cuddle and receive on-demand.
I Asked Dog Owners What they Do to Encourage Cuddle Time With Their Dogs
Here’s what they Said:
When the mood hits them, ya gotta be ready. I tap my chest and say, “Wanna cuddle?”
Mine is more cuddly in the morning or right after a nap. Sometimes he’ll just come and climb on my lap… other times… he lays across the room from me lol
Leave the window open so it’s cold- mine likes to be near me- but not on me. However, when it’s a little chilly she will come and snuggle a little more .
I just taught him “cuddle” as a command and now he sleeps like this. -Vicky with her sprollie Sam
What Dog Breeds Like to Cuddle the Most
If you really want to make sure you secure your canine cuddles then your best bet is to get a cuddling breed from the get go! According to Rover.com Here are the top 10 most cuddly dog breeds:
- Italian Greyhound
- Golden Retriever
- Labrador Retriever
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
- Bichon Frise
- Great Dane
- Brussels Griffon
- Pit Bull
What Dog Breeds Like Cuddling the Least
Having one of these breeds of dogs doesn’t mean that your chances for some cute cuddles are out the window, but it does mean that you probably have a bit of extra work on your hands to encourage the behavior and it might be that your dog really prefers his personal space over cuddles most days.
- Cairn Terrier
- Irish Wolfhound
- Shiba Inu
- Chow Chow
- Afghan Hound
- American Foxhound
Do Puppies Like to Cuddle
This one is a little tricky, Yes, and then no. Often times young puppies will cuddle because this is what they are used to doing with their mom and littermates. Very young puppies also sleep a lot more, but as puppies grow and gain their independence as well as more energy their desire for cuddles can decrease. After that, it really depends on a mix of the temperament of the dog, as well as the amount of attention and training you give to encouraging them to learn to cuddle. A lot of owners I talked to told me their pups were less cuddly until they got older. There was no magical age range at which their puppies started to like cuddles.
Cuddles from your furry friend can seriously be the best thing on the planet, but just be careful you’re ready to comply, if you teach your pup to cuddle, you could end up like Heather who says “I have the opposite problem, mine wants to live inside of my face….every..single..moment.”
But Seriously with a face like that who would complain?!