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What is Unfriendly?

An unfriendly dog may behave aggressively towards other dogs, animals and/or people. A dog that is shy may also be seen as unfriendly, possibly showing a lack of interest or fear of other animals and/or people. In addition, illness can also lead to a dog being unfriendly as he may be feeling too poorly to socialize. If your dog appears to be unfriendly it may be the result of the following:

  • Aggressive behavior
  • Shyness
  • Not feeling well/is in pain

It is helpful to understand what is causing your dog to be unfriendly so that you can do your best to support his health and well-being and in the case of aggression, the safety of those around him.

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Why Unfriendly Occurs in Dogs

Your dog may be unfriendly as a result of:

Aggressive Behavior

Your dog may show aggression whether on or off of his leash. Aggressive behavior may be the result of misguided excitement, fear and anxiety, pain or frustration. 


Your dog may be shy due to different reasons. For example, he may have experienced abuse in the past and be hesitant around new people or animals. 

Not Feeling Well/Is in Pain

If your dog is ill or is in pain for any reason, it can impact his behavior. Not feeling well can lead to your dog being uninterested in other animals or people, including you. It can also cause him to behave aggressively out of concern that another animal or person can cause him additional pain.

Understanding what is leading to your dog being unfriendly is important as his behavior can indicate a medical condition and in the case of aggression, can result in harm to another animal or person.

What to do if your Dog is Unfriendly

If your dog is unfriendly, you will first want to determine what is causing his behavior. Consider whether he is unfriendly with all people (including you), along with all other animals. You should also think about whether he has always been unfriendly or whether his unfriendliness is recent.

If your dog has previously been friendly towards others, yet suddenly no longer is, this can point to his being unfriendly as a result of his experiencing pain or not feeling well. It is a good idea to contact your veterinarian and schedule an appointment for your dog to be examined so that any condition can be diagnosed and treatment received. Upon meeting with your veterinarian, you will be asked about when you first noticed your dog behaving in an unfriendly manner, as well as whether you have noticed any other changes in your dog. Your veterinarian will conduct a full physical examination and depending upon what is seen, additional tests may be administered. Commonly these will include blood tests and a urinalysis. If your dog displays a possible injury, x-rays will likely be taken. 

Should your veterinarian determine that your dog does not have a medical condition, or if your dog has always been unfriendly, you will have to consider other reasons for his behavior. In the case of a dog who is aggressive as a result of anxiety, you can focus on what it is that is making your dog anxious and leading to the behavior. Once you discover what is causing the behavior, you can work on avoiding it for the time being. 

Behavior modification may be helpful and you can work with your dog on this in both passive and active ways. The intent when seeking to modify your dog’s behavior is to target the underlying cause of it using strategies that will minimize his anxiety, increase his tolerance, help him improve his coping skills and make new positive connections. A veterinary behaviorist or trainer can be of assistance.

Prevention of Unfriendly

Your dog will benefit from regular examinations by his veterinarian so that any health issues can be discovered and treated as soon as possible. Regular exercise is also important for your dog’s physical and mental health. 

When a dog is a puppy there is a critical time in his development where it is important that he be exposed to the myriad of things that he might come across throughout his life. If your dog is not exposed to certain things, he can develop a fear to those things later in his life. Depending on the dog, it may be necessary to provide ongoing exposure to different things in a positive way so that he can continue to be confident when encountering them. 

You will want to keep an eye on your dog’s stress and utilize strategies to reduce it; should your dog struggle with anxiety it is likely that he will be more vulnerable to stress. Working to develop a trusting relationship between you is also important.

Cost of Unfriendly

The cost of your dog’s unfriendliness will vary based on its underlying cause. If his behavior is the result of a health issue, what the issue is will determine the cost of treatment. If your dog’s behavior is not the result of a medical condition, you may choose to work with a behaviorist or trainer in order to help your dog. The cost of that assistance will vary by location as well as the severity of the behavior that your dog displays and can average between $300 and $500.