Why Does My Dog Prefer My Boyfriend?

Dachsund
Dogs associate people with the things they bring to the table in the relationship.
credit: Image by Erin Vey/Moment/GettyImages

You take good care of your dog. You feed her, bathe her, walk her, and make sure she has everything she needs to live the good life. So why does your dog cuddle with everyone but you? There are many possible reasons that you're not her favorite, and none of them are personal.

Who brings the love

Dogs associate people with the things they bring to the table in the relationship. Food is, of course, a highly valued resource. As such, many dogs bond with the person who feeds them and generally takes care of them. Not all dogs value everything the same, however.

Some dogs absolutely love toys and bond with the person who most often plays with them or brings them new things to play with. Other dogs crave attention and bond with the person who pets them and gushes over them the most. If your dog is attached to someone else, that person may simply offer a benefit that the dog highly values.

While dogs bond when they make positive associations, negative associations also occur. If you're the one constantly telling the dog to get off the couch, for instance, he may associate you with trouble and gravitate towards those who invite him up for a snuggle.

Early associations matter

The associations your dog makes with you and your family members matter, but so do associations she may have made before she met you. The best time to socialize puppies is between birth and six months of age. Experiences during this time in the puppy's life can have a lifelong impact.

Dogs who spend a lot of time with women during this important time, for instance, may always prefer women to men. If a person in a baseball hat frightens the puppy during this time, he may always fear people in hats. This means that if your dog bonds more closely with someone else rather than you, it's possibly due to experiences he had early on in his life that have nothing to do with you.

The nose knows

Humans have an impressive 5 million nerve cells in our noses to pick up and process scents, but dogs have up to an astounding 300 million. Clearly, this enables dogs to pick up on subtle scents that no human will ever smell. Even though you smell just fine other people, your dog may prefer someone else's scent over yours.

Aside from lining your pockets with bacon, you probably can't do much to make yourself smell more appealing to your dog. Try not to take it personally if your dog would rather sniff someone else's butt.

You've got personality

Just like people, dogs all have their own unique personalities. How well you and your dog bond may depend on how similar your personalities are or aren't. Shy, quiet dogs are more likely to bond with a calm person rather than someone who is always on the move. Conversely, active and outgoing dogs may prefer an energetic person who's always up for a game of fetch or a hike in the woods.

Dog breeds that attach to one person

Any dog can choose one person to be the light of their lives, but there are some breeds with a reputation for picking a favorite. These breeds include the German Shepherd, Chihuahua, Dachshund, Great Dane, and Pit Bull. Because these breeds tend to pick a single person, it's very important to socialize them often so they don't become overly attached.

If you share your home with a one-person breed, you'll need to spend time with your dog and work with him through both training and play. If you don't form some bond between the dog and other family members, he may suffer from separation anxiety and become hard to handle when his favorite person leaves the house. You may never be the chosen one, but your dog can still love and respect you.