A doggy cuddle is one of the best things in life.
Some dogs like to cuddle on their own terms.
While some want to do it most of the time.
But lately, you’ve noticed that your dog is getting really, really cuddly.
It’s like you can’t sit down without a pair of puppy dog eyes begging for hugs.
And you wonder, “What made this happen?”
Keep reading and discover:
- 3 ways dogs can react to pregnancy.
- The surprising role of hormones in dog affection.
- 15 reasons why your dog is cuddly all of a sudden.
- The secret to why dogs cuddle with you when you’re feeling sad.
- And much much more…
Why is my dog so cuddly all of a sudden?
Your dog is cuddly all of a sudden because they’re in pain, scared, or anxious. It could be that they’re cold. While other reasons include: adjusting to changes, doggy dementia, or wanting affection. Dogs also get cuddly when they or their owner is pregnant.
15 reasons why your dog is extra cuddly with you (all of a sudden)
#1: They’re in pain
One thing to remember:
Changes in behavior always mean there’s something your pooch is trying to tell you.
If they get clingy all of a sudden, there may be an underlying medical condition.
There are many ways that dogs can be injured or hurt.
Observe your dog for the signs of pain:
- Not moving.
- Refusing to eat.
- Licking or biting at a body part.
- Crying or whining when something touches parts of their body.
Note: If your dog displays the signs above, take them to the vet. Some dogs get aggressive when in pain. You may risk getting bitten.
#2: Doggy trauma
Just one traumatic experience can change your dog.
And their reaction will get worse if their behavior isn’t corrected.
Dogs can have trauma triggers such as:
- Other dogs.
- New places.
- Loud noises.
- Strange people.
Without the proper desensitization training, your dog’s fear can develop into a deep-seated phobia.
“How do I know if my dog has phobias?”
The AKC says that your dog can react in the following ways:
All of the signs above are part of fear reactivity.
Fear reactivity is your dog’s response to certain situations or people that scare them.
Most people mistake it for aggression but that’s not necessarily true.
Your dog’s feeling stressed. They react in the only way they can.
“What do I do if my dog’s fear reactive?”
Here are some ways to handle stressed dogs as suggested by VCA:
- The best thing to do if faced with your dog’s trigger, is calmly lead your dog away from it. Find a quiet spot and do some training exercises with your dog.
- Exercise your pooch. It helps relieve tension and reduce stress in your dog.
- Take your dog to the vet. Dogs may be fear reactive if there are underlying medical conditions.
Warning: Fear in dogs can escalate to aggression if not handled properly. In addition to the techniques above, find a trainer or behaviorist who specializes in desensitization and counter-conditioning for your dog.
#3: Cuddles = affection
Awwww. Your doggo wants to give you love.
Dogs are capable of so much love and they show it by wanting to be near you.
Cuddling is a form of bonding for dogs.
They do it with their mother when they’re still puppies.
And now that your dog’s all grown up, they do it with you.
Did you know that cuddling produces the bonding hormone, oxytocin?
Research has shown that positive interactions between dogs and owners increase oxytocin levels.
The science behind this hormone has suggested that it can help nervous or anxious dogs to calm down. It also helps them ignore their triggers by focusing on what makes them happy.
Further reading: 11 reasons why your dog wraps his paws around you
#4: It’s cold
As temperatures start to drop this time of year, your doggo may be feeling the chill.
If they’re snuggling close to you it could be for warmth.
Aside from returning their cuddles, you can do these and you’ll have a warm dog in no time:
- Play indoor games.
- Purchase a thicker bed.
- Place additional blankets.
- Control the time for their walks.
Dogs can also experience hypothermia if left in temperatures lower than 45° F (7.2° C).
Signs of hypothermia in dogs
Don’t let your doggos out in the cold for too long. Even long-haired or thick-coated dogs have their limits.
But in cases of severe hypothermia, the dog becomes unresponsive.
They will display the following signs:
- Muscle stiffness.
- Pale or gray gums.
- Fixed and dilated pupils.
- Low heart and breathing rates.
- Temperature below 98°F (36.7°C).
If your dog has signs of mild hypothermia, you can bring up their body temperature through keeping them warm.
You can do it through heated blankets or bottles filled with warm water.
PetMD advises owners to check their dog’s temperature every 10 minutes.
Warning: If your dog displays signs of severe hypothermia take them to your vet. The consequences are severe without proper treatment.
#5: You have a bun in the oven
Can your dog sense that you’re pregnant?
Yes, they can.
But according to AKC, dogs can sense the hormonal changes in the body of pregnant women. However, they don’t understand why your scent or behavior has changed.
There are 3 ways dogs react to pregnancies:
Remember this: dogs will react to changes in their environment. And this includes their owners.
Pregnancy is a big change so help your dog adjust in preparation for the baby:
“How do I let my dog adjust to my pregnancy?”
Dr. Robyn Horsager-Boehrer, advises new parents to take these essential steps:
Let your doggo get used to you and your husband carrying a small bundle around the house. You can use a baby-sized doll or stuffed toy wrapped in a blanket.
Play loud crying sounds at random times in the house. This helps your dog get used to baby cries. They’ll not prick an ear when the real baby comes.
Do this at the start of your pregnancy if your dog hasn’t had training before. It solidifies the behaviors that your dog needs.
Without it, some dogs can get too curious and try to get near the baby.
Updated vaccinations or medications
Make sure that your dog is up to date with the required shots. If you can, stock up on maintenance meds. A new baby can make life busy. There might not be time for vet visits.
Establish boundaries in the house
Plan out where your baby’s room or play area will be. Let your dog know that they aren’t allowed in those areas.
Let your dog smell your baby’s blanket
Take your baby’s blanket into the house before going in with the baby. This helps your dog get used to the scent.
A baby is a wonderful addition to the family. But our dogs are also a part of it. So schedule some time with your doggo.
Don’t let them feel left out. Take your dog out for walks and playtime.
Remember that dogs don’t like routine changes so help them adjust.
#6: It’s a learned behavior
Some dog owners say “My dog doesn’t have a thought behind those eyes.”
But let me tell you a secret.
Dogs are really smart at reading our body language. It’s what they use to communicate.
They know your happy expressions. Or when you’re sad or angry.
They also know the face you make when you like something they do.
So those cuddles your dog gives happen because your dog knows that it makes you happy.
The first time they did it you may have responded by:
- Giving pets.
- Speaking in a high-pitched voice.
These give a signal to your dog:
“Alert! Hooman likes it when we snuggle on her neck!”
Research has proved many times how sensitive dogs are to our emotions.
In the study, dogs were shown faces expressing:
They showed more brain activity and faster heart rates when viewing fear, anger, and happiness.
The research also found that doggos turned their heads to the right when viewing the 3 emotions above while their heads turned left when viewing the “surprised face”.
#7: Your doggo’s growing old
Do you have a senior pooch?
If so, their want for cuddles may be a sign of aging.
Older dogs can get doggy dementia or Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD).
It happens to 15% of senior dogs and it’s a fast-acting disease.
Vets use the DISHAA acronym to determine the presence of CCD:
- Interaction changes.
- Sleep or wake cycles altered.
- House soiling.
- Activity altered.
Dogs with CCD often get anxious because they don’t know what’s going on.
And they want some comfort and reassurance in a world that doesn’t make sense to them anymore.
“How do I treat dog dementia?”
There is no guaranteed cure and you have to be vigilant in watching out for the signs.
The treatments and medications the vet will prescribe will treat the signs but not the disease itself:
- Daily exercise and play.
- A diet rich in antioxidants.
- Brain boosting medications.
- Behavioral enrichment training.
The AKC recommends starting your dog on an antioxidant-rich diet and behavioral enrichment training early on.
The training exercises their mind and gives them the needed stimulation.
Antioxidants prevent damage to your dog’s body cells and strengthen their immune system.
Slowly add these to your dog’s food and see how your dog tolerates them:
|– Yellow squash.|
– Sweet potatoes.
– Green beans.
#8: Pooch pregnancy signs
Is your dog preggo?
Behavioral changes are one of the tell-tale signs of dog pregnancy.
If your dog gets cuddly all of the sudden, then you’re in luck!
Some dogs get irritable during this period and they may even snap at friendly people.
My friend’s dog, Hela, was a cuddle bug to people when she was carrying. But she snapped at her doggo brothers and sisters if they got too close.
She’d find some way to squeeze in a cuddle session in some way or another.
Sat on the floor? Hela would lay her head on your lap.
On the bed? She’d snuggle in the crook of your arm.
Not all dogs have the same emotional reactions but here are some signs to look out for in pregnant dogs:
- Less energy.
- Bigger nipples.
- Gaining weight.
- Nesting behaviors
- Increased appetite.
#9: They’re adjusting to changes
Has your family gone through big changes?
Did you move to a different house?
Have some members moved to other places for work or school?
Remember dogs like routine. And if that routine changes it can make them anxious and unsure.
A suddenly cuddly dog might mean that they haven’t adjusted yet.
Help your dog by establishing a new routine right away.
Take them out on regular walks. Follow a set feeding schedule.
And be as consistent as possible.
#10: “Hooman, I’m bored.”
Cuddles might be your dog’s way of letting you know,
“There’s nothing to do around here.”
“Play with me, hooman or I’ll start chewing the chairs.”
Boredom is dangerous for pooches.
Help your dog learn how to be alone by providing them with toys.
Not to destroy because of boredom, but to exercise their mind.
Kong toys are a great way to help your dog learn.
Veterinarian, Dr. Siracusa says that it does the following to your doggo:
- Enriches their environment.
- Provides mental stimulation.
- Promotes balanced temperaments.
Watch this video for great ideas on using Kongs to train your pooch:
Learn more: 11 reasons why your dog yawns when you pet him
#11: Separation anxiety
This is a severe condition for a dog to have.
Its effects are seen when the human isn’t beside the dog.
These dogs are so stressed they become destructive.
You can come back to a house with chewed furniture, broken windows, and wrecked doors.
Boredom vs. separation anxiety
Boredom can lead to separation anxiety if it’s not managed properly.
But what makes them different is your dog’s reaction.
Dog Trainer, Victoria Stillwell says you can determine which your pooch experiences.
Put a video camera in your house and record your dog’s behavior when you aren’t there.
There is a possibility of separation anxiety if your dog does these within the first 30 minutes:
- Excessive barking.
- Continuous whining.
- Actively trying to escape.
- Destroying household items (doors, windows, furniture, etc.).
And here are the things bored dogs do after you leave:
- Be calm after you leave.
- Go to sleep in their bed.
- Start chewing or scratching after waking up.
A dog like this is fine with being alone but not without something to do.
“What’s the best thing to do for dogs with separation anxiety?”
Desensitization and counter-conditioning techniques can help your dog conquer their anxiety.
In the meantime, use enrichment toys to ease their stress.
Kong toys help dogs with separation anxiety.
Giving a filled Kong toy before leaving gives dogs a distraction that keeps them occupied.
They won’t focus much on the fact that you’re leaving.
#12: It’s genetic
Certain dog breeds are more cuddly than others.
Reader’s Digest lists the most affectionate breeds who want cuddles all the time:
- Pit Bulls.
- Great Dane.
- Bichon Frise.
- Golden Retriever.
- Alaskan Klee Kai.
- Jack Russell Terrier.
Don’t be surprised at their affection if your doggo belongs to one of the breeds above.
But be careful.
According to PetMD, these dog breeds can develop separation anxiety. Although it depends on how their fur parents handle their “velcro” personality.
They recommend socialization with other dogs and people.
Exercise and lots of enrichment toys also help.
And most important is training. It provides mental stimulation.
And it helps them establish the correct behaviors.
#13: They decided to trust you
It’s a magical moment, isn’t it?
When your standoffish dog leans in for cuddles.
This can happen with dogs who have been rescued from bad situations and adopted into loving homes.
At first, they won’t know what to do.
But with time and patience, they will open up to you.
To illustrate, let me tell you the story of Joko.
One of my friends adopted an 8-year old Terrier-Dachshund mix from a relative moving out of state.
He was an outside dog who didn’t receive much love and attention from his previous owner.
My friend’s family was very affectionate to their dogs and Joko didn’t know how to respond.
For 6 months he shied away from pets and would always hide under the living room daybed.
But as my friend put it, “It was like something clicked in him.”
Joko started asking for affection. He’d lean into people with big adoring eyes. Or lay his head on their laps.
The family discovered that he liked head pats a lot. Plus points if you held his head and massaged from his nose to the top of his head.
It took some time but Joko was actually a big cuddlebug.
Editor’s pick: Quiz: Does My Dog Trust Me? Test It With These 17 Signs
#14: Hormonal changes
Has your dog been spayed or neutered?
These procedures result in hormonal changes. And you may see less of their unwanted behaviors.
|Spaying (Females)||Neutering (Males)|
|A better-behaved dog|
|Less of the following:|
– Always urinating.
– Aggressive guarding.
|Less of the following:|
– Urine marking.
– Territorial aggression.
– Ovary tumors.
– Breast cancer.
– Unwanted pregnancies.
– Testicular cancer.
– Prostate diseases.
There’s not a specific age where dogs have to be spayed or neutered. The AKC says that the decision has to consider the following:
- Purpose of dog.
- Home environment.
Warning: The decision to do the procedures should be done with the help of a veterinarian. Some dogs may not be suitable to go through neutering or spaying.
#15: There’s something wrong with you
Dogs have such amazing senses. They can notice even the smallest changes in your body.
For years now dogs have been used to detect diseases.
And they’re very good at it:
- Malaria: 70% accuracy.
- Seizures: 95% – 100% specificity.
- Blood sugar changes: up to 97.9% specificity.
- Breast cancer: 100% sensitivity and specificity.
And in a recent study, scientists found that trained dogs have an average COVID-19 detection rate of 94%.
For a week, 8 detection dogs were trained using saliva and mucus samples of positive patients.
The dogs detected 157 instances of positive. They had 792 correct rejections of negative samples.
But they only had 33 incorrect detections of negative, with 30 incorrect rejections of positive.
Note: The dogs in the studies above are trained dogs. If you want a dog who will help you manage a health condition, check with organizations that train service dogs.
Here is a list of AKC-recognized organizations that can help you find the best dog for you.