So, here is the scenario, you are hanging out with your dog, having a quiet time but recently you have begun to notice that he or she doesn’t like sitting close to you. He or she doesn’t like to hug or cuddle with you and even when they do it just seems like they are only tolerating it. It’s not like your dog is being aggressive with you. But your dog has been pushing you away a lot and even giving you extra space. It’s so bad that even when they are asleep if you come close to them, they would wake up, move some distance away from you and continue their sleep. If this is your situation, you will definitely be wondering
“Why does my dog move away from me?”
“What does it mean when your dog wants to be alone?”
There are a few reasons why your dog is moving away from you. We would start from the more simple reasons to the complex ones and more importantly, things you can do if you want them to stop behaving like this.
Your dog is moving away from you because:
- It has a favorite and more comfortable spot at home.
- You have made them believe you don’t like sitting with them
- They feel threatened by you.
- They are positioning themselves better to protect you.
- Your dog just wants his or her own space
- Your dog doesn’t like you much
- Your dog is isolating himself.
1.It has a favorite and more comfortable spot at home.
Your dog may just have a particular way he or she likes to sit or lay down and being close to you would not allow them to get into that position. More so, your dog may have a particular spot in the house where he or she likes to stay in and relax. This actually has nothing to do with you and is more about your dog being confident and comfortable on its own terms. Providing a likely comfortable spot of position around you like having a dog bed placed beside you or something more comfortable for your dog to rest in would likely solve this problem. Throw in some form of reward anytime they are close to you and being close to you will automatically turn into his or her new favorite spot.
2.You have made them believe you don’t like sitting with them
This may be unintentional, or maybe you have been training your dog this way. You have been making him or her stay far away from you for a while and so your dog has come to accept this as a normal way of living with you. Worse still, you may have gotten angry with them for coming close to you in the past or treated them badly, albeit unintentionally. This only reinforces the belief in them that you do not want them close to you. This can be easily changed by training your dog to start coming to you with the come command. You can also give them attention and other forms of reward when they come close to you which will begin the reinforcement of the belief that being around you is the best place for them.
3.They are timid and fearful of you.
Your dog may be timid naturally, or as a result of the experiences, he or she has had in their lifetime. Timid dogs are already concerned about the personal spaces of others, they already have enough bad experiences coming close to humans. This is given validation when you act annoyed or aggressive when they come close to you. The low self-esteem and fear of you are heightened by this act.
What can you do about this? You need to involve your dog in confidence-building programs, more so, make coming around you exciting, put dog toys around you, reward actions you approve of around you, and show some love.
4.They are positioning themselves better to protect you.
Some dogs are natural guard dog, that means they would rather spend their time at vantage points watching out for possible threats to their pack, in this case, you and maybe your family, than lying next to you and acting cozy. This would be the dog’s natural instinct and it would be better to leave natural guard dogs in that state.
5.Your dog just wants his or her own space.
Sometimes, what your dogs do does not carry some deep meaning. It may just be that your dog wants some alone time. This we see play out when our dogs lay in the sun. Most dogs that want their space usually do this once in a while, depending on how you have been staying with them they do not have any problem staying beside you. Another situation where your dog would want his space is at night while sleeping. They may start by being close to you but as the night goes on and the sleep gets deeper, you will find them moving away from you to get more comfortable.
6.Your dog doesn’t like you much
Ok, that may be overreaching, lets put it this way, you have not yet built a relationship with your dog or there is no bond between the two of you. This lack of bond will make your dog be suspicious of you and act it out in various ways. Apart from moving away from you when you try to come close, here are other signs that you have not built a relationship with your dog.
i.) They will go to great lengths to avoid eye contact with you. An average dog would choose to avoid conflict when possible and what better way to do this than by avoiding the gaze of a potential threat being you in this instance
ii.) They will slyly track your movement. This still comes back to the issue of trust. Your dog is not sure of your intentions in his or her newfound environment and would go to great lengths to keep tabs on your activity around him or her. Albeit, they may do this from a distance and avert your eye gaze, but they will definitely treat you as a threat till you prove to them you are not.
iii.) They will cower and hide from you. This one should be a very big red flag in your relationship with your dog. A dog that hides from its owner is a dog who is definitely afraid of them. Dogs that have committed some form of an offense are usually the ones who try to hide from their dog parents, but in this case, you are yet to build a relationship with him or her, and their hiding from you is a sign that your presence makes them uncomfortable.
iv.) Their fur stands when they are around you. This is usually accompanied by a hunched back as if your dog is ready to pounce on you. Their hair would stand straight and there is that bewildered look in their eyes. This behavior is actually a reflex action dogs exhibit when they feel they are in danger.
v.) They walk out of the room when you enter. A dog that is not interested in you will not waste time trying to be in the same space with you. This is in addition to avoiding eye contact with you and pretending to ignore you.
vi.) They would refuse treats from you. Everyone knows how much dogs like treats, a dog who wouldn’t accept the treats you give certainly does not want to be around you. This is usually an extreme situation but can happen when your dog doesn’t like you. Some would go to the extent of rolling back their eyes. This is just like a human closing their eyes or turning their head in another direction with saas just to show the person that you are not interested. Of course with a little training, this can be stopped.
vii.) They growl and might bite when in your presence. This is an extreme case scenario. Your dog growling at you without cause is a sign that they are very uncomfortable around you. If a dog should bite, it is out of a sense of self-preservation. That means you have made a move that is threatening to him or her. A dog that growls around you should be approached with extreme caution.
Fortunately for us, getting our dog to like us is not such a big task. The first thing you should do is to carry on your daily activity as usual. Avoid making sudden or surprising moves at this stage. Your dog will get used to your daily routine and stop seeing it as some form of threat to him or her.
Give your dog space and time, doing this will make them feel safe in the environment and when they feel safe they will start looking for ways to fit into the environment and this will make them try to bond with you.
Also, make coming close to you interesting, surround yourself with dog toys, use treats, praise them when they do something you like, but always keep in mind to ignore or better still punish bad behavior immediately they occur. This way your dog will start understanding what is expected of him and what is not.
It is worth noting that not all dogs end up bonding well with their owners. That is why it is important to take time and choose your perfect match when adopting your dog or in the case of stray dogs, they should display an affinity to want to be close to you.
Some dogs are meant for us and some are not, no matter what we do and that is the reality of the dog world.
7.Your dog is isolating himself.
It is really not common to see a dog that is not trying to blend into one family or the other, it is a basic assumption that all dogs are social creatures so when you see a dog that goes to a great length to be alone especially when this was not the case before, then it calls for concern from the dog parent.
Your dog may be isolating himself or herself due to these reasons.
i.) Mental Conditions
These are usually behavioral and can range from anxiety to depressive behaviors.
Anxiety is usually linked to poor socialization or a traumatic experience in their life. For example, some puppies that have been stepped on when young may grow up avoiding physical contact, there are also those that fear noises like thunderstrikes, airplanes, etc.
With depression, this usually has to do with events in their life, a change of environment, loss of a loved one, being mistreated without resolve. Just like human beings, our dogs can get depressed experiencing so many negative things. All these can lead to your dog going into isolation.
The good thing here is that since they are behavioral when noticed, they can be unlearned and replaced with good habits. Begin the socialization process, treatment of separation anxiety, sharing their grief of a lost one, some medication may be recommended by your vet doctor. All these will make your dog understand that he or she is not alone and become more relaxed around you.
ii.) Disease or Illness
Even as human beings, we tend to go into our own little isolation when we are sick, so imagine your dog that can’t express his or herself in human terms, how they would feel when ill. Any type of disease or illness will make our dogs retreat and try to get some healing naturally. This is the way they survived in the past.
Some pointers to this problem are lack of appetite, lack of activity, physical changes like hard and fast breathing, bloated stomach, etc. The list can go on and on, but basically, any change in our dog’s behavioral pattern should be analyzed properly to rule out disease or illness as a cause for them going into isolation.
With Disease or Illness, only a medical solution can resolve it. Report suspected symptoms to your vet doctor for immediate treatment.
This is one that can be rough on our dogs, there is no way your old dog can communicate to you that his or her sense of vision is failing, or that he or she cannot hear you well, or that they are not as energetic as they used to before, or suffering from memory loss. All these problems lead to miscommunication between them and their human counterparts and to avoid further conflict, most of them would choose to go into isolation.
The best thing you can do for such a dog is giving them their own space, not to say that you shouldn’t take care of them, no. Treat them the same way we would treat senior citizens. Make them understand that even though you may not understand what they are going through, you are still there for them. After all, you two have been together for so long.
iv.) Severe Pain.
Pain is one thing we can’t escape as humans and the same thing applies to your dog. Whether they have an injury, or experiencing trauma, or going through some Joint, bone, and muscle pain. The natural reaction is to find somewhere comfortable and safe to nurse the pain.
Now even though most of the resolution for our dogs going into isolation is dependent on the experts, you can do your bit to make sure that your dog behaviorist or vet doctor gets the best information to deal with the problem fast. A good observation of the changes in your dog will be something like, what are the changes in his or her appetite, has their routine changed recently? How is their movement pattern? Is there any major change in their behavior towards you? Your vet doctor will take do some physical examination and likely do some tests(blood, urine, fecal matter, x-rays, etc.)
Depending on what is causing your dog to go into isolation, the proper prescription will be given. For mental issues, training routines would be suggested and maybe anxiety and depression medications prescribed. Also, ways to desensitize your dog from the triggering effects suggested.
In all, there is always a solution to your dog’s isolation problem, so observe your dog and follow the recommended practices and your dog would be just fine.
We have dealt extensively with the questions “why does my dog move away from me?” and “what does it mean when your dog wants to be alone?” As you can see it is not a complex issue, what you need is just a simple systematic elimination of the options above to find out which factor is causing your dog to behave as such and more importantly how you are going to handle the problem.
Enjoy your day with your doggies.
Hi, I am Charles Nwankwo Editor-in-Chief, Mydoggything.com. Gleaning from Professional Dog Trainers, behaviorist, Registered Veterinarians, and Breeders. We are passionate about making dog care easy for you. My job is to make sure that you get the best-updated dog care information to understand and take care of your dog or dogs.