Why Does My Dog Avoid Me When I Cry?


Of all the animals on this planet, nothing comes even close to the special bond we have with our dogs. Dog owners know how their furry friends seem to just know what is going on with them, but they don’t always act in the way you expect them to.

If you went through a rough patch recently and suddenly found your dog seemingly staying away on purpose, you may be asking why, and it’s a good question, actually.

So why does my dog avoid me when I cry? Your dog may avoid you when you cry because they’re confused, intimidated, anxious, or think you’re doing fine on your own. Other uncommon reasons can be due to how you handled their comfort before and whether you showed signs of disliking it.

It might be heart-wrenching to think that your dog doesn’t care whether you’re sad or not, that’s why you need to keep reading this article to know what is really going on, and why your dog is acting the way they are.

How Do Dogs React To Our Crying? 

golden retriever laying on the couch to illustrate why does my dog avoid me when I cry

So, how do dogs react to our crying? Dogs can sense our crying and understand that something isn’t right. They experience something called emotional contagion which happens when your emotions trigger your dog’s similar emotions and make them respond to what you’re feeling. They don’t understand the emotion but they show empathy.

Previous studies showed that dogs respond to human emotions even if they don’t understand them. It’s proven that dogs can also detect when someone is distressed and they feel the same way, even if they have no emotional connection with this person.

According to a new study published in the Learning and Behavior journal in July 2018, not only your dog can feel what you feel, but they’ll also try to help you feel better. 

In the study, dogs who saw their owners cry or sensed they were upset, rushed towards them and tried to make them feel better in various ways such as using physical contact or touching, using distraction by drawing their attention to something, or giving them a nudge to play outside, or simply giving them the space you need to feel okay again.

If your dog doesn’t do anything from what’s mentioned above to comfort you, don’t think it doesn’t take care of you.

Every dog is different, and your dog may have its unique way to show empathy and you just need to pay closer attention to your relationship to figure it out.

There are more various reasons why your dog may avoid you when you cry and “not caring” isn’t one of them. Keep reading to know more in the next section.

Why Your Dog Avoids You When You Cry

So, why does your dog avoid you when you cry? Your dog avoids you when you cry because it may feel confused about what’s going on, they may be anxious and don’t know how to properly react, or they feel they’re in some kind of trouble. It may also have shown empathy in the past that wasn’t well-received.

No need to feel bad about your dog not comforting you when you cry, there are various reasons why they don’t. You may want to check this list of reasons why your dog may avoid you when you cry to know more:

  • Confusion. This is the strongest one, your dog may be confused and can’t fully comprehend what’s happening around it. This could be the case if your dog stands in front of you giving you its attention with no further action. 
  • Giving you the space you need. That’s actually a common way of how your dog comforts you but it can be wrongly translated. Your dog may want to give you your space until you feel better. This could be the case if they sit nearby looking silently at you.
  • Anxiety. This is a common reason why your dog may not try to comfort you while you cry. It’s simply because your tears are making it anxious and it doesn’t know how to make it better. This could be the case if you see your dog looking stressed, moving rapidly around the room, or whining.
  • Past affection wasn’t well received. While you’re worrying about your dog not showing affection, your dog could be thinking that you don’t want it in the first place. This could be the case if your dog used to comfort you in the past and you showed signs of irritation while crying or possibly punished it for that.
  • Intimidation. Your dog can feel intimidated by you if you suddenly start to cry. They may think they’re in trouble as well so they avoid you till the coast is clear. This could be the case if you’re likely to get mad at it then cry, or you usually punish it while crying.
  • You look okay. This sounds obvious but your dog won’t comfort you if it thinks you’re ok. Maybe your body language and facial expressions aren’t alarming enough for your dog to react. After all, they translate and respond to our body language and facial expressions without understanding what we feel.

Does Your Dog Care When You Cry? 

Does your dog care when you cry? Yes, your dog cares when you cry. It may not understand the reason why you’re crying but they know that something is bothering you and this feeling transfers to them so they feel it as well. Your dog will even try to make you feel better and stop you from crying.

Dogs are sympathetic and empathetic creatures by nature. They experience emotional contagion where they respond to whatever you’re feeling. Not only that but they’ll also try to make you feel better.

There is an article in Psychology Today titled “Your Dog Really Does Care If You Are Unhappy” that discusses how your dog is capable of feeling empathy even though it’s a very complex emotion. 

Researchers also found that dogs not only approach and comfort their owner when they cry but also approach strangers who show the same emotions, seeming to offer emotional support in much the way that humans show empathy to each other.

Some dogs are, of course, more emotional than others. Since I have lived all my life with mostly golden retrievers, I have written a post on how emotional are golden retrievers here so that you can learn how your dog will react in different emotional situations, so make sure to check it out when you can.

Related Questions 

Why Doesn’t My Dog Care When I Cry? 

Your dog may not care when you cry due to various reasons like anxiety, confusion, intimidation, thinking it is in trouble, thinking you’re okay, or simply it wants to give you your space. Researches showed that dogs care when you cry no matter what, but they show their affection in different ways.

Can dogs sense when you’re crying? 

Yes, dogs can sense when we’re crying. They Can sense distress around them due to something called emotional contagion when they respond to human emotions without fully understanding them. Dogs can also translate your facial expressions and body language so they know you’re upset or crying. 

Why does my dog lick my tears when I cry? 

Your dog licks your tears when you cry because they learned that licking themselves gives them a soothing feeling that can make them feel better and they want you to experience the same thing. Some experts say that they enjoy the salty taste but others confirm that it’s mainly a comforting gesture.

Helpful Resources 

Canine Empathy: Your Dog Really Does Care If You Are Unhappy

The Cues Dogs Pick Up On to Comfort Their Owners

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