What to Do With a Puppy Who Won’t Cuddle You

There are several reasons that a puppy may not want to cuddle with you.

  • Previous abuse and rough treatment.
  • They may have too much energy
  • Your puppy may be too hot.
  • They may not feel well.
  • A puppy may be unsure of what you want.

If your puppy is new to your family, they may not understand what it is that you want. This is especially if where they came from didn’t handle them as much as they should have done.

Give a puppy time to get used to you and then they will cuddle without having to be coerced. They may uneasy at first if you want to cuddle the moment you bring them into your home.

Train them to enjoy lap time. Pop your puppy onto your lap and gently hook one finger around their collar so they don’t jump off. Then gently stroke the top of their head, and along the back to settle them down. Massage around the base of the ears and get them used to a cuddle. Some puppy’s need to be taught to relax while being handled.

A new puppy needs kindness while they adapt to a new owner. Make sure everyone in your household knows this and is kind to the puppy.

If someone from the family hits or punishes the puppy, it will have lasting effects on their personality.


Your Puppy Could be Hot

The weather could be a big factor in whether your puppy wants to cuddle or not. If they have dense fur like a Samoyed puppy, then the weather may be too hot for them and they will shy away from cuddling because they are already hot.

The humidity factor can make us all feel a bit sticky and overheated. Rather than cuddle, it would be better to sit with your puppy under the aircon or fans.

You can be together and yet keep cool.

For an overtired puppy, this would be more appealing than cuddling.

During the heat of the day, the cool tiles on the floor are better to sleep on than curling up in your arms. It’s nothing personal for your puppy, it is all about keeping their cool.


Signs That Your Puppy Has Been Mistreated

We hope we never see it but has your puppy been mistreated? It may have been in their previous home.

Remember young children don’t mean to be unkind, but perhaps they have been too rough on your little puppy?

Look for the signs of fear so you can step in and change this around. Educate both your children and your puppy to happily live together.

If your puppy is fearful of someone, look for these signs.

  • Flattened ears.
  • Head turned to the side when spoken to.
  • Tail tucked between their hind legs.
  • Whale eyes (you can see the whites of the eye showing). This indicates anxiety, stress, fear, or defensive.
  • Previous abuse – your dog may have been mishandled in the past. A puppy who has been roughly treated, spanked, or pushed around may be terrified of what may happen next.

It is beyond sad that a puppy is mistreated but it can be overcome with patience and kindness. You can reassure the fearful puppy and get their trust back.


Reassure Your Puppy if It Is Fearful  

It is hard to believe that someone could hurt a puppy as they are so innocent and trusting. But when that trust is broken, it can take a lot to mend the harm done.

Here Are Some Tips To Help.

  • Never try to force affection onto a puppy.
  • Let them come to you in their own time.
  • If you are kind and gentle and give them space, they will eventually become your buddy.
  • Put a toy or blanket in their bed that has your scent on it so they get used to your smell.
  • Hand feed your puppy little treats so they associate you with good things.
  • Keep your voice low and soft so they can relax.
  • Don’t growl at them if they pee where they shouldn’t. Nervous pups don’t have much control yet over their bodily functions and often pee if fearful or excited.
  • Focus on the good things that they do. Gently pat them and tell them in a happy voice what a good puppy they are.
  • Build their confidence and be their protector. Watch those other animals in the home to ensure they aren’t picking on them or stealing their food.
  • Use a crate (with the door open to begin with) as their haven or safe place. No one but them is allowed in there.
  • Handle your puppy quietly and gently. They will soon get used to your kindness and adapt to love your cuddles.
  • Ask children to tone down their noise and be nice and gentle to the puppy. If you explain the reason your puppy is scared and not being so cuddly to them, they will be amazingly supportive and will accept your explanation and be willing to help.

When a new puppy joins a family, they have a lot of adapting to their new environment. They may miss their mom and siblings. Everything is so strange and they can be quite fearful and reserved for a while.

But if you follow the tips above, your puppy will soon be throwing themselves into your lap for a cuddle before you know it.


Puppy Too Energetic to Be Interested in Cuddling

Some puppies are the other way around, they have so much energy that keeping still for a cuddle is almost impossible.

They have places to see, other pets to play with, children to annoy, and they haven’t got time for cuddling.

Try taking them out for a walk in the morning, and just before dinner time at night. Keep them active and wear off some of their energy.

Once they’ve used their energy up, they will be more inclined to cuddle up, especially as they get sleepy.

Make a point of having lap time. Encourage your puppy to curl up and cuddle as they have worn off most of their energy. Make it a fun time where you focus on them and give them neat pats and gentle massage.

Your puppy will soon take notice of the nice human who seems to be around wherever they go. They realize that you are also a good source of yummy treats.

Encouraging them onto your lap for a gentle game of tug of war, with a few treats thrown in will soon convince them of your worth!

And if cuddles equal treats … it will work for them too.


A Sick Puppy Needs Gentle Handling

If your puppy doesn’t want to cuddle with you, it may be that they are feeling poorly and just want to be left alone.

When a puppy is feeling unwell, their behaviour often changes and they are less outgoing and social. It doesn’t take much for a puppy to go from cuddles to grumpy and wanting to be alone.  

There are many reasons why your pup may feel unwell.

  • They may have had a change of diet that their body needs time to adjust to.
  • Curiosity may have gotten the better of them, and they ate something they shouldn’t have.
  • A new puppy may be feeling a bit lost without its natural mom and siblings.
  • They may have gotten a chill.
  • Their diet may be too rich for them.
  • Too many treats and too much food will often lead to digestion problems.
  • Puppies can get into all sorts of places, and your pup may have hurt themself as they explored.
  • Gastrointestinal problems such as worms can affect your puppy’s health.
  • Other health issues such as Canine Distemper Virus.


How can you tell if your puppy is sick

Your puppy can’t tell you that they don’t feel well, however, their body language is often the giveaway that they are covering up for ill health.

Instinctively your puppy will not show that they are unwell, a habit that goes back to when dogs were wild and roamed freely. A sick animal got no help from the pack and was often left behind if they couldn’t keep up. So they kept their feelings to themselves.

But even without words and instinct, there are some distinct signals from your puppy that all is not right.

  • Most often the first clue is a change in their personality – they become distant and lethargic.
  • Unexplainable weight loss.
  • Coughing, wheezing, and nasal discharge.
  • Problems with pooping.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • A toilet-trained puppy who suddenly starts urination or pooping around the home is a sign of a health issue.
  • And when your little puppy loses interest in food or drinking, that is a red flag that all is not right.

If your puppy becomes withdrawn, doesn’t want to be handled or cuddled, and has any of the symptoms above, then a trip to the vet is required.



Puppies are trusting by nature; they love being fussed over, and love the warmth of your cuddles. Some puppies may just need to be educated to enjoy a cuddle, it is the sweet way to socialize your pup.

But if they don’t feel well, if it’s too hot, or if they have been mistreated, your puppy will withdraw from human contact and affection.

Always look for the reason behind this behavior. Get a health check and a second opinion from your vet. They will provide an objective view and will be able to find if any health issue is causing this behavior change.

Be kind, gentle, supportive, and loving. Let your puppy know that you are here for them. A puppy loves warmth and often they initiate the cuddling.

If you have a shy puppy, give them time to get their confidence. The cuddles that they will lavish on you once you get their trust will be worth it!

Writer: Jean Brewer

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