From the “Oh my God you’re finally home” tail wagging to the way that they sweetly rest their head on your lap, you have to admit that dogs rank right at the top of pet perfection. They’re playful, funny... is it any wonder that you love your fur baby (almost) as much as your kiddos? And if snuggling with your sweetie (and by that, we mean your pooch, not your partner) has been happening more frequently lately, here are the reasons
why your dog might be acting extra cuddly.
Getting cuddles from your canine is undeniably one of the
biggest perks of having a pet. But their butt shaking and barking are just a couple of ways in which they show their love and affection. “Most pet parents love when their pets give them more cuddles and furry snuggles, but if this is a new behavior, could there be something else doing on?” Dr. Katie Woodley, BVSc, cVMA, GDVCHM, a holistic veterinarian, asks Romper in an email. “Anytime a new behavior develops, it's important as a pet parent to assess if something changed.”
So if you feel like your fur baby might be trying to tell you something with their cuddles, here’s how to decipher your dog’s love language.
1 Your dog just misses you. Anna Kraynova / EyeEm/EyeEm/Getty Images
There’s no getting around it: dogs miss their humans when they’re not around. Even a quick trip to Target can feel like an absolute eternity to your pooch. That’s why you might want to take a look at your schedule to see how much time you’re actually spending with your dog. “You should consider what your dog could be going through psychologically, since many dogs suffer separation anxiety,”
Paula Stewart, an animal behaviorist tells Romper in an email. “If they hate you being out of the house, they will stick by your side whilst you are with them with the hopes you won't leave them again.” Try to carve out some extra time in your schedule to ensure that your pet is getting the love and attention that they need. 2 Your dog is in heat.
You know how crappy you feel when you have cramps? Well, your woofie feels the same way when she’s feeling, um, amorous,
Danielle Mühlenberg, a dog behaviorist explains. “It can be as simple as having a female dog in heat,” she says. ”When my Rottweiler has her period, she's extra clingy and loves to cuddle.” That’s why giving your girl positive affirmations can help make her more comfortable during heat, which can last between 2-4 weeks, the American Kennel Association reported. 3 Your dog might be bored.
Sure, you’ve been nonstop busy, but that doesn’t mean that your dog’s schedule is full. If your dog can’t stop cuddling, it might have something to do with them being bored. “Boredom is another condition in dogs that can make a dog clingy,” says Stewart. “They are vying for your attention and may want to play, snuggle, or go for a walk... anything that will make you focus on them!” You might want to consider setting up some puppy playdates or extra time in the dog park so that your pooch is active and entertained.
4 Your dog is snuggling because you're pregnant.
Your pooch is quite perceptive. So even though they didn’t officially get an invite to your gender reveal, your woofie probably already senses that you’re expecting,
Kate LaSala, CTC, CBCC-KA, PCBC-A, CSAT, a certified, professional dog trainer and behavior consultant, tells Romper in an email. “Expectant mothers will often report their dogs are clingy,” says LaSala. “Although dogs don’t necessarily know the woman is pregnant, they can detect changes in mom’s smell as she moves through her pregnancy, and many dogs are sensitive to changes in appearance or gait.” And if pregnancy hormones are making you weepy lately, chances are your pooch is going to pick up on that and want to snuggle with you to make you feel better. 5 Your dog is naturally more cuddly. Heather Wilson / EyeEm/EyeEm/Getty Images
Although most dogs are of the cover-you-with-kisses variety, some dogs just tend to be more snuggly than others,
Dr. Sarah Wooten, DVM, CVJ, a veterinarian says. “Breeds like Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Maltese, Italian Miniature Greyhounds and other small or toy breeds are bred to sit on your lap, and clingy or snuggly behavior is pretty much the norm,” says Dr. Wooten. Although you’re bound to find cuddly canines across all breeds both big and small, your dog just might be genetically designed to want to hang out with you on the couch and cuddle. 6 Your dog is feeling stranger danger.
Thought it was just your 2 year-old who was suddenly afraid of strangers? Think again. Even though dogs have a reputation for loving anyone and everyone who comes across their path, that’s not always the case, Dr. Wooten says. “If your otherwise confident dog becomes overly clingy or snuggly, that is usually an indication that something is bothering your dog, such as new people,” she says. This can even be the case with another canine, too.
The fix? Well, instead of comforting your dog in this scenario, you should try to identify the problem. “The problem is that the next time your dog is afraid, they will likely be even more clingy and afraid because they know that it will elicit comforting behavior from you,” advises Dr. Wooten. “Instead, try to identify what your dog is afraid of, and either remove your dog from the situation or try to distract your dog with something to chew on or a food puzzle.” While it might seem like you’re rewarding “bad” behavior, what you’re actually doing is a process called desensitization and counter-conditioning. It allows you to desensitize your dog to whatever they are afraid of by associating the fearful thing with a positive thing (like treats) and train a new behavior instead (ie - sitting instead of being clingy). You might need some help from a veterinarian, certified trainer, or even a behaviorist.
7 Your dog snuggles to feel the love.
You know the feeling of relaxing next to your Golden Lab, sniffing their head, and just feeling the relaxation effect? Well, your dog does, too, and that might be yet another reason why they want some snuggies. “We also know that, when dogs get close to us, they can smell the oxytocin that our body releases from their contact,”
Dr Joanna Woodnutt, MRCVS, a veterinarian tells Romper. “When they smell this hormone, their body releases their own oxytocin in response. In other words, dogs can smell that we love them, and this makes them love us more.” Awww. 8 Your dog is afraid of storms.
If you noticed that your Shiba Inu goes sprinting any time a storm is approaching, there’s a good chance that they’re afraid of weather changes. But instead of hiding, your canine might cuddle with you to help ride out the storm — literally. “Thunderstorm noise phobias can make a dogs' behavior change,” says Dr. Woodley. “Some may become more snuggly, while others may hide in a closet, and others are unaffected.”
9 Your dog is stressed out. C. Romance/Moment/Getty Images
Life changes can be difficult for dogs to deal with. So if your pet is suddenly stuck next to you like glue, it might be a sign that they’re stressed. “Pets can be sensitive to changes like moving to a new house, a new roommate or partner, or even changes in work hours,” says Dr. Woodley. “This can cause your dog to change its normal behavior and be more clingy and snuggly.” If that’s the case, you can always offer your dog some extra reassurance and try to maintain some semblance of normalcy during more challenging times.
10 Your dog is cuddling because they're sick.
Your Tibetan Mastiff can’t tell you if it’s having tummy troubles, so it might scooch up against you on the couch — and knock you down in the process. Still, you might need to take your dog to the pet doc for a check-up. “If there haven't been any identifiable changes in the environment and you're noticing a new behavior with your pet, then there may be something medically that is making them feel unwell,” says Dr. Woodley. “A decrease in energy or not feeling well can occur with numerous medical conditions and is worth taking your pet to the veterinarian for an examination and even bloodwork.” Although it might seem like your pet is just tired, Dr. Woodley says that they’ve been able to diagnose early underlying health conditions such as anxiety, kidney disease, urinary issues, and even cancer that manifested as a behavior change. “And because we found it early, it was much easier to treat and resolve the problem without lasting adverse health issues,” she says.
11 Your dog is aging.
You’ve noticed some grey hairs around your fur baby’s muzzle, and that your once-peppy pooch prefers to sleep for hours on end in the sunny spot of your living room. Aging is a normal part of life, and it can be hard to see your pet getting older. But that could be one of the reasons why you’re getting extra cuddles lately. “If your pet is just slowing down as they age, and everything else seems normal for your dog, they may just enjoy cuddling more with their awesome pet owners,” explains Dr. Woodley. “Take the time to enjoy all the extra cuddles with your furry companion.”
For the most part, your dog probably wants to hang out with you just because they love you. But you should always be aware of any sudden changes in behavior. A trip to the veterinarian can assess if your pet needs further medical attention. And putting your pooch’s physical and mental well-being health as a top priority just might get you some (you guessed it) extra cuddles.
Experts: Dr. Katie Woodley, BVSc, cVMA, GDVCHM, a holistic veterinarian Paula Stewart, an animal behaviorist Danielle Mühlenberg, a dog behaviorist Kate LaSala, CTC, CBCC-KA, PCBC-A, CSAT, a certified, professional dog trainer and behavior consultant Dr. Sarah Wooten, DVM, CVJ, a veterinarian Dr Joanna Woodnutt, MRCVS, a veterinarian