I’m Sick and Dog is Avoiding Me: Exploring Canine Behavior Changes

Problem Dog avoiding me because I’m sick
Why They Avoid You Dogs may avoid their owners when they are sick or have a change in scent or behavior. This is a natural instinct to protect themselves from potential illness or danger
More Info Give the dog space and time to adjust to the change in scent or behavior, offer treats and positive reinforcement to encourage interaction, seek veterinary care if the dog’s behavior persists or worsens

What Your Dog Is Communicating By Avoiding You

dogs avoid people when sick for a variety of reasons

Perception of Sickness

Dogs have an incredible sense of smell and can detect the slightest changes in their environment. When you’re sick, your body undergoes chemical changes which can alter your scent. Your dog may pick up on these changes and react by avoiding you. This behavior can be influenced by their personality and past experiences around illness.

Communication through Body Language

Dogs rely on body language to communicate with humans and other animals. When you’re sick, your body language and energy levels may be different than usual. Here are some factors that can affect your dog’s behavior:

  • Weakness: If you appear weak or vulnerable, your dog may feel uncertain about how to react.
  • Lethargy: When you’re less energetic than usual, your dog might be less inclined to engage with you.
  • Pain: If you’re experiencing pain or discomfort, your dog might sense it and keep their distance to avoid causing further distress.

Effect of Owner’s Emotions on Dogs

Your emotions can also play a role in your dog’s behavior. When you are sick, it’s not uncommon to experience a variety of emotions, such as:

  • Fear: If you’re afraid of your illness, your dog might pick up on your fear and respond by avoiding you.
  • Sadness: Your dog may sense your sadness and avoid you, as they may not know how to comfort you.
  • Anxiety: Anxiety can cause a change in your scent, making your dog feel uneasy and more likely to avoid you.

Remember that your dog’s behavior can be influenced by their own emotions, experiences, and personality. By understanding the way they perceive sickness and how they communicate through body language, you can better address their behavior and help both you and your dog feel more comfortable during times of illness.

It May Be an Issue With the Dog and a Coincidence

The Dog’s Health

Your dog might be avoiding you due to an underlying health issue. Some common illnesses and conditions that can cause a dog’s change in behavior include:

  • Infections: Bacterial, viral, or fungal infections can make your dog feel sick and avoid you. Examples include kennel cough and Lyme disease.
  • Gastrointestinal issues: Problems like vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite may indicate an underlying issue, such as a stomach infection or gastrointestinal obstruction.
  • Cancer: Certain types of cancer can cause a dog to become lethargic, lose weight, or show other signs of sickness, leading them to avoid you.
  • Diabetes: Symptoms like increased thirst, frequent urination, and weight loss can signal diabetes, which could cause a change in behavior.
  • Other chronic illnesses: Less common illnesses like kidney failure, liver disease, and heartworm can also cause a change in your dog’s behavior.

Dog’s Age and Health

As dogs get older, they may experience changes in their health that can impact their behavior. Here are some age-related factors to consider:

  • Senior dogs: With age, dogs might become less energetic and more prone to a wide range of health issues. This can lead to lethargy and less interest in interacting with you.
  • Arthritis and joint pain: Older dogs may develop joint pain or arthritis, making movement uncomfortable. Your dog might avoid you to minimize the discomfort caused by physical contact.
  • Loss of hearing or vision: Age-related hearing and vision loss can be confusing and disorienting for your dog, causing them to withdraw from interactions.
  • Cognitive decline: Cognitive dysfunction syndrome, similar to Alzheimer’s in humans, can cause changes in a dog’s behavior, including disorientation, anxiety, and avoidance.

Remember to monitor any changes in your dog’s behavior and consult with a veterinarian if you suspect a health issue. By addressing potential problems promptly, you can help your furry friend maintain a happy and healthy life.

Psychological Reasons behind Dog’s Avoidance

Effects of Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety is a common issue in dogs, and it can contribute to their avoidance of you when you’re sick. When dogs with separation anxiety sense that you might be less available due to illness, they can become anxious and distressed. This anxiety can manifest as:

  • Clingy behavior
  • Pacing
  • Whining
  • Destructive behaviors

To help your dog cope with separation anxiety, ensure they have a comfortable and familiar place to relax and provide distractions, such as toys and puzzle feeders.

Impact of Punishments

Dogs are sensitive to your emotions and actions. Punishments or negative reactions towards them can lead to avoidance. If you have unintentionally punished your dog when feeling unwell, they may associate your sickness with these unpleasant experiences. Some common examples of punishments include:

  • Shouting or scolding
  • Physical force
  • Ignoring or isolating them

Instead, employ positive reinforcement and gentle guidance. This approach will help your dog understand that they are not the cause of your discomfort and maintain a positive relationship.

Canine Isolation and Fear

Isolation and fear can also cause your dog to avoid you when you’re sick. Dogs are social animals and may become distressed or even depressed if they feel isolated or fearful of changes in their environment. Some factors that can contribute to canine isolation and fear include:

  • Limited contact with other dogs or humans
  • Insufficient mental stimulation
  • Lack of regular exercise
  • Feeling excluded from family activities

To help your dog overcome these feelings, provide consistent and predictable routines, social interactions, mental stimulation, and exercise. Remember that maintaining your dog’s emotional wellbeing is essential for their overall happiness and health.

Professional Assistance and Dog Training


When you notice that your dog is avoiding you, especially when you are sick, it’s essential to consider the possibility of an underlying health issue. In this case, seeking professional help from a veterinarian becomes crucial. Some common warning signs that your dog might be experiencing a health problem are:

  • Lethargy
  • Change in appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Whining or crying

It is always a good idea to schedule regular check-ups with the vet to rule out any possible health concerns. Additionally, if you have pet insurance, it can help cover the costs of these visits and medications prescribed by the veterinarian.

Dog Trainer

In some instances, your dog might be avoiding you due to a lack of proper training or behavioral issues. This is when enlisting the expertise of a professional dog trainer becomes necessary. A dog trainer can help you:

  • Identify the reasons behind your dog’s avoidance behavior
  • Develop customized training programs to address these issues
  • Teach your dog to perform tasks that may assist you when you’re sick, such as retrieving objects or providing pressure therapy

Investing in professional dog training ensures that your dog understands how to support you during times of illness, and strengthens the bond between you and your furry companion. With the right guidance, you and your dog can navigate any situation together.