If you’ve ever felt that your pets just aren’t “feeling it” when it comes to how much you care about them (or at least their version of caring), then we get why.
It can be difficult for animals to understand what makes us tick. After all, they wouldn’t know if our feelings were similar to those of another person, and dogs in particular often don’t know exactly what motivates people. So here are some common reasons — both logical and emotional — why your pup might not fully grasp your unconditional devotion.
- 1. They’re too young
- 2. You don’t spend enough time with them
- 3. Your dog doesn’t have the same interests as you
- 4. It’s a phase
- 5. There is no one to compare you with
- 6. Dogs aren’t really meant for humans
- 7. They’ve been abandoned before
- 8. Your dog has a hard life
- 9. Your pet doesn’t think like a human
- 10. You love them unconditionally, but they may not feel the same way back
1. They’re too young
Dogs grow up so fast! While puppies definitely enjoy spending quality cuddle time with their owners, sometimes pups simply haven’t had many opportunities to learn what it means to truly love someone yet. If you’ve got an adolescent or adult dog who hasn’t experienced this kind of affection early on, there’s nothing wrong with giving them a little extra TLC now and again. Just make sure to give them lots of attention and praise once their puppy-like behavior begins to wane.
2. You don’t spend enough time with them
While loving ourselves isn’t something that most animals do naturally, we still need to take better care of ourselves than we usually would for others around us. This goes double for our furry friends. Spending more time together will provide ample opportunity for your pooch to learn what it feels like to have its every whim indulged by you. When you show them affection, treat them kindly, and respond to their needs, they’ll start to see how important you are and what a great thing it is to have you in their lives. And even though you won’t be able to read each other’s minds, they’ll probably soon figure out that you’re happy to grant them whatever they want since doing so brings a smile to your face.
3. Your dog doesn’t have the same interests as you
This reason could also fall under the category of “too young.” Since you likely started showing your canine companion affection long before they developed any sort of personality, chances are good that they didn’t pick up on the fact that you adore them the exact same way that they do. Take things slowly, and try to bond over shared activities first. Once you two hit that sweet spot where you genuinely share a connection through playtime or food consumption, your dog should be well aware of how lucky they are to have you.
4. It’s a phase
Just because your pup grows into adulthood without understanding what true love entails, that doesn’t mean they never experience this feeling. In fact, I’d argue that they eventually go through a very brief period of having absolutely zero clue. For example, my current cat Lola was adopted from her previous home when she was only eight weeks old, meaning she spent less than three months living inside the house. She wasn’t given anything resembling proper socialization, which means she didn’t know how to interact with other cats or kittens until her new family put forth effort to teach her. Now, at age six, she loves being surrounded by kitties 24/7, and she’ll occasionally attempt to adopt a kitten of her own right after me. But I’m convinced that her initial cluelessness stemmed from her lack of familiarity with the world outside her litter box.
I believe that everyone goes through moments in their lifetime when they wonder whether they actually possess what it takes to create deep connections with loved ones. Like babies, adolescents, elderly parents, etc., dogs require a lot of patience and support to develop healthy relationships with humans. We must remember that they’re learning everything about themselves, including how to relate to us, while simultaneously trying to adapt to our strange ways. So while you shouldn’t expect your pup to suddenly begin appreciating you in midlife crisis, you should always strive to help them become comfortable with change whenever possible.
5. There is no one to compare you with
Although some animal lovers insist that dogs inherently understand emotions such as love and compassion, it’s highly unlikely that they feel these feelings based solely upon observation alone. Instead, they rely heavily on cues from the people closest to them. As aforementioned, they observe humans interacting closely with one another, and then extrapolate onto their relationship with themselves. The best thing we can do to show them that we truly care for them is to demonstrate genuine emotion toward them regularly. Even if they can’t tell precisely what you’re thinking, they should recognize that you love them.
6. Dogs aren’t really meant for humans
In order to maintain control over their environment, dogs evolved to work effectively alongside humans. Because of their natural inclination to form pack structures, however, they need guidance from us regarding acceptable behaviors. Without this information, they tend to behave erratically and unpredictably, causing stress among the members of their household. On top of that, domesticated dogs have been bred to perform certain tasks repeatedly, making them somewhat inflexible creatures. What’s worse, they can exhibit aggression against anyone who threatens their perceived hierarchy within the pack structure. Although dogs certainly deserve plenty of appreciation from us, it seems unfair to ask them to live up to standards set by wolves.
7. They’ve been abandoned before
When dogs are taken away from their original homes due to neglect or abuse, it’s typically because they weren’t provided with sufficient leadership skills. Or perhaps they were abused physically or emotionally during their stay. Regardless of the circumstances behind their separation, abandonment leaves them feeling insecure and distressed. Thus, instead of trying to establish meaningful ties with their former caregivers, they look elsewhere for comfort. Unfortunately, they end up forming unhealthy attachments to strangers whose intentions aren’t entirely clear. Ultimately, they suffer greatly because they miss the warmth and security of their families.
8. Your dog has a hard life
The worst part about owning a pet is taking responsibility for his health. Not only do we worry about ensuring that he gets adequate nutrition and shelter, we also have to deal with vet bills and preventative medication costs. All the while, we consider the fact that he’ll probably die someday anyway, leaving us heartbroken. If we could talk to our beloved furballs, however, they surely would thank us for helping them avoid pain and suffering throughout their lives.
9. Your pet doesn’t think like a human
Another reason why pets fail to comprehend what love means to us is their inability to predict the future accurately. Unlike humans, dogs cannot visualize abstract concepts such as tomorrow or next year. Their short-term memories are limited to hours, days, and weeks, whereas ours extend far beyond that range. Plus, unlike humans, they cannot process past events logically. Humans use logic to determine cause-and-effect relationships between present situations and prior experiences. However, dogs are subject to instinctual impulses rather than conscious thought processes. Consequently, they frequently misjudge our actions based on faulty assumptions.
10. You love them unconditionally, but they may not feel the same way back
We know that dogs have complex personalities and inner worlds. Therefore, it’s easy to assume that they can understand what unconditional love means, especially considering all the positive interactions they receive from us daily. Yet, they may find it challenging to reciprocate our affection. One potential explanation is that they haven’t learned yet how to communicate verbally. Another possibility is that they view our displays of adoration differently than we intend. Perhaps they interpret them as attempts to dominate them, thereby sparking negative reactions. Whatever the case may be, we should avoid letting our pets off the hook too easily when it comes to demonstrating affection. By responding positively to them unconditionally, we should help them discover their unique talents and abilities and encourage them to explore the world around them. Then maybe, just maybe, they’ll come to realize how special they are to us.
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