One of the big joys of owning a dog is petting him or her. While many paint it as a soothing action for the dog, the truth is that it’s a huge stress reliever for humans. It does make one wonder, though, if dogs actually like to be pet by humans. If dogs do enjoy pets, do they always enjoy them? And if so, where do they really like to be pet? These are all questions that definitely require answers.
Well, the truth is that your dog almost certainly likes to be pet, but he or she definitely has a few places that are preferred petting locations. While each dog definitely has his or her own special petting spots, there are at least a few universal areas where dogs tend to like to get a pet and a few zones that are no-go areas for most dogs. Understanding which is which can help you to have a better relationship with almost any dog.
How to Tell if a Dog Likes Being Pet
As odd as it may seem, there are some dogs who don’t like being pets. For some, this is because of past traumas. For others, it’s just because the dog isn’t a fan of being touched. It’s very easy to tell if a dog likes to be pet if you’re around him or her all the time, but it’s not as easy to figure out if it’s a strange dog. Fortunately, there are some telltale signs you can look for to see if the dog would prefer that you don’t pet him or her.
Obviously, the easiest way to tell if a dog doesn’t like to be pet is if he or she growls or snaps at you. It’s not ideal to wait for this sign, of course, so you’ll look for more subtle cues. If the dog tucks his or her tail between his or her legs, turns away from you, or tries to moves when you’re petting him or her, the dog doesn’t like to be pet. If you run into a dog that has any of these behaviors, you can stop petting him or her without any worries.
So, what does it look like when a dog does like to be pet? Generally, he or she will encourage you in whatever ways he or she can. The dog might wag his or her tail, of course, but it’s also likely that he or she will nudge your hand or follow you around to get a few more pets. Dogs who like to be pet aren’t shy about letting you know that they’d like you to keep going.
How to Pet a Dog
You’ve found that perfect dog who just loves being pet. Now it’s up to you to do things correctly. This means learning how to pet a dog without scaring him or her and ensuring that the dog doesn’t take your attempt to be friendly as an attack. Fortunately, there are a few hard and fast rules that can make the process much easier.
The first step in petting a dog is establishing a relationship. Yes, it’s possible that you could just go ahead and start petting the pooch but he or she might get scared when you bend down and just starting touching him or her. Instead, you’re going to need to teach the dog that you are not a threat and that you’re just there to be a friend.
One of the best ways to start this is by squatting or sitting down next to the dog. This puts you on the dog’s level, reducing your threat level. Next, you’ll give the dog your hand so that he or she can sniff you. If the dog sniffs and stays around, you’re in good shape. If not, you’ll want to wait a little longer before you touch the dog.
Let’s next assume that the dog is ready for you to pet him or her. If you want the dog to stay happy, you’re going to do the obvious thing and pet with the dog’s fur rather than up against it. Petting against the fur isn’t terribly comfortable for most dogs, so don’t pet back and forth; instead, you’re going to pet in downward motions and lift your hand up when you get to the end of those motions.
Another major tip is to make sure that you avoid petting a dog’s face. The area behind a dog’s ears and the top of his or her head are fine, but consider the eyes and snout off-limits. This makes a great deal of sense, as most people wouldn’t love you poking at their eyes or mouth either.
Finally, take some time to talk to the dog while petting him or her. Speak in a soft, gentle tone that gets across the idea that you are praising the dog during the action. This will not only help the dog to stay calm, but it will help make him or her much happier during the process.
Where Dogs Like To Be Petted
Let’s start with a few words of warning before we start talking about the best places to pet a dog. It’s important to know that your dog is going to be different than other dogs because you already have an existing relationship. As such, there are probably spots where you can pet your dogs that other dogs just won’t tolerate.
You also need to remember that dogs, like people, have very particular preferences about where they do or do not like to be touched. Your dog’s favorite spot may not be on this list, while another dog might absolutely hate the spots that show up here. As such, you need to gauge each individual dog’s response before you start petting him or her.
As most dog owners might know, one of the best spots to pet a dog is behind his or her ears. This area is full of sensitive nerve endings and petting your dog here can send the signals that help your dog to fall asleep. In fact, studies have shown that petting a dog behind his or her ears causes his or her brain to release plenty of endorphins, leading to a very natural high.
Another spot to safely pet a dog is on his or her upper chest. Petting a dog here is a great idea because it requires relatively little trust on the dog’s part. When you pet a dog on the upper chest, he or she will be able to see your arm the whole time and thus won’t have to wonder what you’re doing. As a bonus, petting a dog on the upper chest allows him or her to sniff you while you are petting him or her.
If you’re around a dog who is wearing a dog collar, you can also pet him or her underneath the collar. This can provide the dog with some relief from an itchy collar and gives the dog some much-needed attention at the same time. As a bonus, it’s also a spot that gives the dog plenty of control over whether or not he or she wants to be pet.
The big spot, at least for most dogs, is definitely the belly. Dogs will roll onto their backs to ask you for a belly rub, and this action is absolutely unmistakable. The jury is out on exactly why dogs like belly rubs so much, but we do know that the rolling action isn’t a solely show of submission – sometimes it can be a blatant demand to get petted!
Finally, you can always pet a dog on his or her back. If the dog trusts you enough to pet him or her without being able to see your hand, this is a safe and controllable space in which to interact with the dog. It’s rarely a dog’s favorite spot, of course, but it still feels nice enough for most dogs.
Where NOT to Pet a Dog
While there are a handful of great spots to pet any dog, there are also some spots that tend to be less favorable. Your dog might tolerate or even like being pet in some of these spots, but some dogs will have a real problem if you try to do so. As such, consider these spots the ones you need to avoid when you’re dealing with a new dog.
As a rule, you’re going to want to avoid petting a dog on his or her feet. Not only do dogs have sensitive feet, but it can make many dogs feel like you’re cutting off their ability to run away. Petting a dog on the tail, on the other hand, can feel like you’re cutting off the dog’s ability to communicate – it’s more or less the equivalent of holding your hand over a human’s mouth.
Despite the fact that many dogs do love being pet on the head, this is also a spot that you might want to avoid with a strange dog. If the dog moves his or her head out of the way or closes his or her eyes, he or she might be afraid that you’re going to hurt his or her eyes or nose. As such, you’re going to want to carefully gauge any dog’s reactions before petting him or her anywhere near the face.
Pay Attention to the Dog’s Body Language
While it’s great to spend the time necessary to learn how to pet a dog properly, the most important thing you can do is to pay attention to a dog when you try to pet him or her. Take some time to look at the dog’s body language and to make sure that you’re not stressing him or her out with your attempts to be friendly. If a dog really wants you to pet him or her, he or she is going to go out of his or her way to remind you that he or she is there.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How do I tell my dog I love him?
Telling your dog that you love him or she is actually pretty simple. For the most part, just spending time with your dog and interacting with him or her in a kind manner is more than enough to let him or her know that you care. You should definitely pet your dog, of course, and praise can help, but your presence can go farther than just about anything else when you want your dog to know how you feel.
2. What does petting feel like to a dog?
In short, petting tends to feel good for dogs. It depends on where you’re petting them, though; if you pet a dog behind the ears, for example, the dog will get a feeling that’s similar to a runner’s high. If you choose to pet a dog’s back, though, it’s a bit more like a human getting a massage. In either case, petting a dog in a preferred area will feel good for him or her.
3. Do dogs like it when you pet them while they sleep?
This largely depends on the dog. Some dogs don’t mind being touched while sleeping, while other dogs will have a huge problem with this kind of action. As a rule, you should let your dog sleep when he or she is tired. A quick pet probably won’t hurt anyone, though, and it’s never a bad idea to let your dog know that you are still around.
4. Do dogs like to be hugged?
It largely depends on the dog. Some bigger dogs like being hugged, while some smaller dogs just like being close to people. You should never assume that a dog likes to be hugged, though, as most dogs don’t like to be held in a way that prevents them from moving. If you’re going to huge a dog, then, you need to make sure that he or she trusts you completely.