8 Signs You're Not Showing Your Dog Enough Affection

September 15, 2023

Dogs crave love and attention from their owners. In fact, affection is a foundational component of the human-dog bond. It’s the element that keeps your furry friend tied to you, making them feel loved and appreciated. It is also crucial for their overall well-being. 

So, when you compromise on that, it doesn’t only lead to emotional distance between you and your furry pal. It could also mean health issues for your furry pal. So much so, it can alter their behavior and change their perception of you.

In this post, we'll share eight signs that indicate your dog is not receiving enough affection — so that you can take action before it’s too late. Let’s get started!

dog needs attention

1. Chewing on Inappropriate Things

Destructive chewing is often a symptom of boredom or anxiety, both of which can result from a lack of mental stimulation and affection. If your dog is gnawing on furniture, shoes, or other inappropriate items, it might be their way of expressing a need for more engagement and attention from you.

Chewing or shredding items is often a clear signal that your dog may be seeking additional attention and stimulation. Dogs, being social animals, have a natural inclination to interact with their human companions. When they feel lonely, bored, or understimulated, they may resort to chewing and destroying as a way to cope with their emotions or release excess energy. This behavior can also indicate a need for mental or physical exercise.

To resolve this, give your dog more attention before you leave. Engage in playtime or take them on a walk before you leave to wear them out. Also, interactive toys can help redirect their instincts in a positive and healthier direction.

2. Barking More than Usual

Barking is a natural means of canine communication, so you’ll hear it often. But to recognize ‘unusual’ barking patterns, you should know what qualifies as normal barking and what doesn’t.

Normal barking includes responses to stimuli such as doorbells, strangers, or other dogs, and it's often brief and contextually appropriate. However, when your dog's barking becomes incessant, disruptive, or out of character, it may be a signal that something is wrong.

Here are some signs to look out for: 

  • Frequency: An increase in the frequency of barking, especially in situations where your dog is typically quiet, may indicate a need for attention.
  • Duration: Unusually prolonged barking spells, far beyond the norm for your dog, can be a red flag.
  • Context: Barking in non-stimulating situations or without an apparent reason may suggest an underlying need for interaction.

Excessive, prolonged, or unusual barking may be indicative of loneliness, boredom, and anxiety. You can easily fix this with increased interaction. Make sure your dog receives ample attention, engaging in activities they enjoy. This can include playtime, walks, or simply sitting together.

Alternatively, you can train your dog to associate quiet behavior with positive rewards (for example, by giving them treats when they’re quiet).

3. Unreasonable Weight Gain or Weight Loss

This is one of the most prominent and most worrying signs of all — because it clearly tells that the lack of affection is taking a toll on your dog’s health. 

The fluctuations in weight are due to signal emotional distress. Keep an eye on your dog's weight and adjust their diet accordingly. Changes may indicate stress-related eating or loss of appetite, requiring attention to emotional needs. 

Here’s how you can tackle it:

  • Arrange regular vet check-ups
  • Even if you’re busy, don’t neglect balanced nutrition for your dog

Plus, when you suspect you’ll be busy for days, arrange a dog sitter beforehand. The dog sitter won’t really substitute your presence and love for the dog — but it’ll prevent the adverse buildup of loneliness for your dog. It will delay the worst of consequences.

4. Following You Around 

While dogs naturally enjoy proximity, consistent shadowing may signal a need for more attention. Analyze the context and offer additional engagement through play, walks, or simple companionship. Make sure you maintain a balance between independence and quality time. This balanced approach will prevent loneliness and reinforce the bond between you and your furry companion.

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5. Howls like a Wolf

Most dog breeds do not howl much. They only howl when they want to communicate with other dogs or when they need to alert you about something. So, if your dog is howling more than usual, it may be a call for attention and companionship. Again, before you take any action, understand the situation thoroughly. Observe your dog’s surroundings and check if they have a legitimate concern. 

If there’s nothing that should incite the unusual high-pitched sound, take it as a sign and consider spending more time with your furry friend. Remember, prompt response to a dog’s pained howl is always the best idea — let them know they can trust you.

6. Rolling on the Back

Typically, rolling on their back can be a sign of submission or an invitation to play. It may also indicate a desire for belly rubs and physical affection. If your dog is frequently rolling on their back in your presence, it's a clear signal that they enjoy and seek the tactile connection that comes with belly rubs.

7. Nudging Your Nose

Dogs often use their noses to explore and interact with the world, but nudging can also be a way for them to seek attention and affection. If your dog is nudging you with their nose, consider it an invitation to engage in physical interaction and offer them the attention they're seeking. 

This is a very gentle sign, so it’s indicative that they’re only beginning to feel neglected. Do not let this feeling compound!

8. Constantly Whining

Whining is one of the most direct ways dogs express their emotional state. If your dog is whining consistently, it may be a plea for more attention and affection.

So, understand the context of the whining, such as whether it occurs during specific situations or times of the day. This will provide you with insights into your dog's emotional needs.

Final Words

Finally, let us highlight another crucial indicator that suggests insufficient affection for your dog: the inability to recall your last play session with them!

If you find it challenging to remember when you last dedicated time to play with your dog, it's a significant concern. Dogs flourish through interaction, play, and shared moments with their owners. The lack of consistent play can foster feelings of neglect and potentially contribute to behavioral challenges. Address this red flag promptly by reintroducing regular play sessions and ensuring your dog's emotional needs are met.

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Thank you to our guest blogger, Arslan Hassan, who provided this great information!