Why Do Dogs Cuddle With You?

I don’t know about you, but I love nothing more than a cuddle with my two dogs. If you are a dog owner, you will know that each dog is different in this regard. Just like people, some dogs like to cuddle whereas others do not.

In this article we will be exploring the question – do dogs like to cuddle? We will look at why dogs cuddle with you, and why some dogs like to cuddle – and others do not!

Do Dogs Like to Cuddle?

In my experience as a dog owner, yes absolutely they do.

However, this is provided that the dog was handled regularly and with kindness when they were a pup.

It is also worth keeping in mind that the breed of dog can make a difference as to whether or not they enjoy cuddling.

For example, my cattle dog cross loves pats and belly rubs, but she is not so keen on actual cuddles, whereas my whippet will happily cuddle on the sofa all day long if I let him!

I have raised both of these dogs in the same manner, with lots of affectionate handling.

The other thing that I have noticed is that my cattle dog is older now, and the older she gets the less she enjoys hugs. I think that she is just getting a little bit grumpy in her old age, which is fine. I can pat her up to a certain point, but then her body language tells me she has had enough (by pulling away and averting her gaze.)

My whippet, on the other hand, is still quite young so he is still a bit of a ‘baby’. He loves to be so close that we are touching. In fact, he gets quite anxious if we are not. Plus he loves to be warm, hence why he loves to cuddle (which is surely a whippet thing!)

Why Dogs Cuddle With You

Our dogs love to cuddle with us for several reasons. One reason is because it feels good to them. It provides them with a sense of safety and wellbeing, and it makes them feel protected by you, their pack leader.

Dogs are tactile creatures, meaning that much of their communication revolves around touch. Dogs will communicate with each other in this way via close contact, playful mouthing, and licking each other on the face.

As puppies, dogs get used to the sensation of touch because dogs are a mammalian species that give birth to litters of offspring (as opposed to just one baby.) So they get used to being in close contact with each other when they are in the womb, and also when they are feeding from their mother’s milk. Hence puppies associate physical contact with warmth, nourishment, and security.

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Factors Related to Why Some Dogs Like to Cuddle (and Others Do Not!)

Breed Type

Some dog breeds have been developed via selective breeding to have a preference for being stroked. You are most likely familiar with the term ‘lap dog’. Toy breeds, sometimes referred to as lap dogs, were bred as pets for the nobility centuries ago, and their job was simply to sit on their master’s lap and allow themselves to be stroked. One notable example of this type of dog is the Pekinese, the favorite pet of the Chinese Imperial family.

Who is Doing the Cuddling

Some dog breeds do not mind being cuddled by a trusted adult, but they do not take kindly to children because children can sometimes be accidentally too rough with them. When dogs that have this temperament are feeling overwhelmed by too many cuddles, they can snap out of fear. So it is always advisable to socialize a pup with children from a young age or keep smaller children away from older dogs for this reason.

 do dogs like to cuddle

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Bad Past Experiences 

Some dogs do not like to cuddle because they have had a bad experience – perhaps someone has been unkind or even cruel to them. Sadly, these dogs will take lots of time, patience, and reassurance to come around to enjoying a good cuddle. Some dogs will never get to that point. This is not uncommon with rescue dogs, unfortunately.

Does The Dog Want to be Cuddled?

It is always important to read the dog’s body language. Some dogs hate people putting their faces too close to theirs because they see it as a threat. 

If a dog is feeling stressed, you can tell. Their eyes dart around anxiously. They may keep their tail low. And if they can, they will walk away. If you are holding them and they can’t escape, then you guessed it, they may express their fear as aggression.

A dog that wants to be petted will generally have a relaxed facial expression and a wagging tail!

Ask Permission

If the dog is not your own, always talk to the owner before you pat a dog. Not only is this smart, it also shows respect. Imagine if some stranger came rushing up to you on the street and started to shake your hand – you would not like it either!

Why We Should Cuddle Our Dogs (If They Let Us, That Is!)

There is plenty of good information out there to suggest that stroking our dogs (and cats, for that matter), is good for us. It can reduce our stress by lowering our blood pressure, and reduces the level of stress hormone (cortisol) in our blood.

In Conclusion – Why Do Dogs Cuddle With You?

  • Some dogs find cuddles soothing and reassuring that they are safe, protected, and loved by their human companions;
  • Dogs get plenty of tactile experiences as puppies, with their mother and siblings;
  • Not all dogs like to be cuddled – it depends on their upbringing, their age, their breed type, and who is cuddling them! 
  • A dog’s body language will tell you all you need to know about how they feel about cuddles – so take notice;
  • Cuddling is not only good for dogs, it has health benefits for humans to cuddle their dogs.

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