Dogs love unconditionally. So how hurtful would it be if your dog didn’t like you?
“We have a 5-month old Jack Russel cross who is gentle, friendly and playful to everyone she has met so far… This is great for everyone but us. She doesn’t enjoy it when we pet her, she doesn’t want to be next to use… so we feel like she doesn’t like us. Can you tell me why this might be?” *
The good news is this puppy seems well socialized and full of promise for growing into a loving and loyal adult dog. So why doesn’t she respond to Mom and Dad?
You have a lot of emotion invested in getting a puppy. You probably thought about it long and hard, perhaps even waited for years until the time was right. You have a mental image of snuggles on the sofa, licks and kisses… and then the puppy has other ideas.
A puppy’s priorities are likely to be very different from your own. Terrier breeds in particular love to explore, and their idea of happiness is following a scent and running all day until they are exhausted. As far as some terriers are concerned, snuggles and cuddles are not half as interesting as digging a hole or chewing a smelly sock.
Indeed, some dogs find physical contact a little overwhelming and so tend to shy away. This doesn’t mean they dislike the owner; just that petting can be outside their comfort zone. If your dog is like this, be especially careful about not reaching over their head – this causes the dog to shrink away. Instead, try to pet their chin and keep your hand below eye level.
Build a Relationship
Try tackling the lack of rapport from the other direction and work out what the puppy likes. If she loves to fetch a ball, then be sure to play several times a day. End each game on a high with a tasty reward, and whilst she’s tired, happy, and munching on her treat, stroke her flank or chin. Start to build an association in her mind where you are the purveyor of great games and tasty treats. This helps her to see you as a person of interest who understands her needs.
Work on your basic training. Read up on reward-based training and hold twice daily sessions. Terriers love a mental challenge and love the one-to-one attention of training. Not only will these sessions improve obedience but you’ll soon find the dog watching your every move as pack leader.
It is out of this new found trust and respect the dog finds in the owner, that visible affection will grow. Not every dog likes to be held in an embrace, but with time you learn to recognize the dog’s deep affection for you – displaying in their closeness and willingness to obey. Best of luck![*] This question was asked at a recent Holly & Hugo Q&A webinar. These sessions take place twice a month and are free for all Holly & Hugo students. To sign up click on Webinar banner in Your Virtual Campus. Not a student yet? Sign up to our Newsletter to get discount offers for our courses and FREE guides and resources. Sign up Now!