9 signs your dog doesn't like you, even if you think they do

Business Insider US
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  • There are a few ways you can tell if a dog feels uncomfortable around you or just doesn't like you very much.
  • It's not a good sign if your dog is deliberately avoiding you or leaving the room every time you enter it.
  • Sometimes a dog's body will stiffen up if they are uncomfortable in your presence.
  • If you find a dog isn't your biggest fan, you can try to get them to warm up to you by associating your presence with treats and leaving the animal alone.
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If you suspect a dog doesn't like you, don't stress - it's probably something you can fix. Plus, in many cases, it's likely not downright dislike.

Insider spoke with Karen Sueda, a board-certified veterinary behaviorist at VCA West Los Angeles Animal Hospital, who explained that sometimes a dog can appear to dislike someone but they might actually just be nervous or uncomfortable around the person.

Here are a few signs that a dog may not be your biggest fan, along with some tips on what to do to change that.

If a dog doesn't trust you, they may track your movements.

Take notice if a dog seems to be watching your every move - that could mean that they don't trust you or that they feel uncomfortable around you.

"Dogs that are worried about a person may stare at them or visually track their movement from a distance," Sueda told Insider.

It's not a good sign if your dog is not making eye contact with you.

Sometimes a dog that doesn't want to be around you might track you carefully - other times, they might purposely ignore you.

Insider spoke with Wag! Advisory board member and dog behaviourist Robert Cabral, who said you should watch and see if a dog isn't making eye contact with you or seems to move away from you every time you try to get close.

Cabral said if a dog isn't your biggest fan, they will not meet your gaze and will back away "because dogs will most often choose flight as opposed to fight."

If a dog is afraid of you, they might cower or hide.

Remember, a dog that doesn't like you might actually just be kind of scared of you - and this fear can manifest itself in physical ways.

"If the dog is fearful, he may cower or crouch, pull back his ears, tuck his tail, hide, or tremble," Sueda told Insider.

If a dog leaves the room whenever you enter it, they could be purposefully trying to keep their distance.

A dog who isn't thrilled with you isn't going to really stick around when you come by. Aside from avoiding eye contact and ignoring you, they may just straight up leave the room.

As Cabral told Insider, "Dogs will more often disengage than opt for destructive behavior."

If a dog refuses to accept treats from you, they may not like you very much.

Anyone who is familiar with dogs knows how much they appreciate a good treat. So, if a dog is avoiding a special snack just to avoid being near you, that's a sign they may not feel comfortable in your presence.

Sueda said a dog might also show the whites of their eyes when they're avoiding a treat that's being offered by someone they may not trust.

If a dog's fur is standing up, they could be afraid or feel threatened by you.

Cabral said to look out for a dog that's hunching their back or curving its back upwards, as this can be a sign the dog is about to pounce or that they are afraid.

He also said to pay attention to a dog's hackles, the hairs along a dog's shoulders and spine that rise when an animal is alarmed or angry.

"Their hair standing up along their back could mean they're scared or uncomfortable," he told Insider.

If a dog seems nervous around you, that's not a great sign either.

Like humans, dogs can display nervous ticks that come out when they're around someone who makes them a bit uncomfortable.

"Some dogs may exhibit behaviours such as licking their lips or yawning when they aren't tried," said Sueda. "These are the equivalent of a person who plays with their hair or bounces their leg when they are nervous."

Sometimes a dog's body will stiffen up if they feel uncomfortable in your presence.

A dog's body language is very telling, so if the animal begins to stiffen up they may be in the presence of someone or something they don't like.

Sueda told Insider that, in some cases, "they may stiffen and stare at a person they perceive as threatening."

In some more extreme cases, a dog will bite or growl at you if they feel you're threatening them in any way.

Keep in mind that it's not common for a dog to be aggressive toward you just because they are not your biggest fan - they are typically only aggressive if they feel threatened.

"If a dog is biting you, they are acting out of self-preservation, a basic drive that almost all animals have," explained Cabral.

Generally, a dog is only going to get aggressive if they feel you've done something that pressures them into having to protect themselves or their territory.

Fortunately, if a dog isn't your biggest fan, there are a few ways you can try to get them to warm up to you.

The good news is that many dogs will warm up to you even if they're not showing much interest in you at the moment, said Cabral.

"The best way to get a dog to like you is to not try too hard to make the dog like you," Cabral told Insider.

"Give the dog space and time and make them feel safe. Be normal and go about your day-to-day," he added, explaining that you'll probably find that the dog warms up on their own once you start to ignore them a bit.

In addition, Sueda said you'll want to avoid sudden or unexpected movements that might frighten or threaten a dog and you should "associate your presence with things the dog enjoys, such as tossing treats or a toy."

But all in all, sometimes a dog might not like you that much no matter what you do.

"You're not best friends with everyone, so you shouldn't expect your dog to love everyone they meet. It's normal for dogs to have different levels of enthusiasm for different people," said Sueda.

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