Dogster is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Can Dogs Feel Rejection? Vet-Approved Canine Emotions Guide

Written by: Hanh Duong

Last Updated on April 9, 2024 by Dogster Team

sad and worried border collie dog lying on a wood floor

Can Dogs Feel Rejection? Vet-Approved Canine Emotions Guide


Dr. Marta Vidal-Abarca Photo


Dr. Marta Vidal-Abarca


The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

Dogs certainly have emotions, as anyone who has spent time with them and truly loves these loyal friends can verify. To name a few, they seem to experience joy, sadness, fear, and even frustration. And our feelings have a significant impact on our dogs—when we are depressed, happy, or anxious, they can sense it.

However, despite being intelligent, complex animals, dogs lack the mental capacity to experience the entire range of “human” emotions. This might make you wonder whether dogs are capable of feeling rejection. The answer is yes, in their very particular way, dogs can certainly feel rejected, and this can affect their behavior and well-being in various ways. Read on below to find out more.

How to Tell if Your Dog Is Feeling Rejected

Since dogs are unable to communicate with us other than through their body language, we may find it difficult to identify their emotions. But there are several warning indicators you can watch for that will let you know if a pup is starting to feel a bit rejected.

A dog will try whatever they can to make up for being rejected or unloved if they feel that way. They can interpret our facial expression and vocal clues and understand how we are feeling towards them. If they don’t feel loved and protected, they may exhibit behaviors such as tucking their tail between their legs. Their ears may also droop. This is because they are trying to make themselves small.

If your pet is experiencing rejection and abandonment, they may also exhibit shaking and cowering behavior. When they experience a lack of motivation, they can act passively by remaining inconspicuous and avoiding interference with others. It’s important to remember that dogs are sensitive beings. If a pup is not acting like their normal self, they might display signs of distress.

Sometimes our furry friends might seem a bit less happy than usual. Keep an eye on them and show them love—that’ll usually perk them right up!

Do Dogs Become Upset if You Refuse Their Affection?

If you tend to dismiss or overlook their efforts to connect with you or display love, your loyal companion certainly may get upset. As the owner, you hold a significant place in your dog’s life. They rely on you for their well-being, including their emotional state and nourishment.

Dogs are sociable creatures and require the company of their group. So, experiencing isolation from their group, which in this case consists of just you, can potentially lead to depression over time.

Beagle dog sad
Image by: CHAIUDON, Shutterstock

How Can I Tell if My Dog Is Feeling Neglected?

If your furry friend exhibits any of these behaviors, it could suggest that they feel neglected and need additional attention and interaction.

  • Increased barking
  • Destructive behaviors, such as chewing
  • Moaning, crying, or howling
  • Nudging and pawing at you
  • Play-biting and nipping you
  • Shifts in body language
  • Potty accidents (even after being taught)

Showing Affection to Your Dog

You can’t train your dog to feel a certain way, but there are ways to ensure they always feel happy and loved. 

Showing love and attention to your furry friend is super important! Even if things get hectic, take the time to hang out one-on-one with your pup. This will help keep them happy and healthy! You may need to wake up half an hour earlier than usual to take them for a pleasant walk or play fetch with them in the backyard. Spending time with your furry friend may appear insignificant to you, but it holds great value to them. This simple act of affection can make them feel appreciated and loved.

If you just got a new pup and they had a rough go of it before you came along, they might still be working through some feelings of rejection from their old home. A great way to help your new pooch feel comfortable is to show them lots of love, give them yummy treats, and let them know that your home is now their special place too.

To demonstrate your love and care for your pet, acquire different toys and a cozy bed to unwind in. Don’t forget to give them the best food and treats you can find, and make sure they have plenty of time outside and things to explore. It’s important to show them how much they mean to you! Dogs yearn for love and affection, and by providing them with the necessary attention, we can ensure that they will never feel rejected again.

Sad tired beagle dog on sofa. Sick dog.
Image by: ALEX_UGALEK, Shutterstock

How Do I Apologize to My Dog?

Essentially, an apology involves expressing kind words and giving your pet attention. It’s important to examine the situation more closely—while it’s uncertain whether they can truly comprehend and forgive apologies, our priority should be identifying the root cause of their distress and taking steps to prevent it from recurring.

It’s okay if you make a mistake with your dog as long as your intentions are good. Just keep showing them love and care, and everything will be alright.



Figuring out what a dog is feeling can be tough since they can’t just tell us in words we understand. But by using different body language, they can communicate how they are feeling and give us an indication of what might be happening to them. It’s important to recognize that dogs can feel rejected, so it’s our duty to make an effort to understand their needs. It’s equally crucial to be aware of how our actions and behaviors can impact our dogs emotionally and we should strive to avoid causing them distress.

Featured Image Credit: Elayne Massaini, Shutterstock

Get Dogster in your inbox!

Stay informed! Get tips and exclusive deals.
Dogster Editors Choice Badge
Shopping Cart


© Pangolia Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved.