How to Approach and Pet a Dog

approch a pet dog

Photo by Adam Griffith on Unsplash

Dogs hold a special place in our hearts and homes, and one of the best ways to show them your love and affection is by petting them. Stroking your dog is generally a relaxing and calming experience for them, but it’s important that you respect their boundaries. By knowing which areas they do and don’t like being petted, and how best to approach them, you can make sure each interaction is a positive one.

Why dogs like to be pet

Petting your pup helps to build a healthy bond between the two of you, establishing trust and comfort in each other’s company. Dogs generally love being petted because they’re social creatures and enjoy your company and attention. They feel your love and care through simple physical gestures, such as a tickle behind the ears or a belly rub. And it’s not just dogs that benefit from these interactions. According to research by Waltham Petcare Science Institute, petting your dog increases both of your oxytocin levels (commonly known as the ‘love hormone’), reducing stress and promoting feelings of calmness.

How to pet a dog

Petting a dog should be enjoyable and carefree for everyone involved, so there are a few things to consider when you go in for a stroke or a cuddle.

How to approach a dog

First and foremost, it's essential to approach a dog slowly and calmly, especially if you don’t know them very well. Avoid sudden movements that could frighten them, causing them to nip, bite or run away. The best way to introduce yourself is to be near the dog and keep your hands by your side. Then allow the dog to come to you - if and when - they feel ready. That way, they have time to take in your scent and decide if they’d like to interact or not. Never force yourself on a dog or extend a hand to sniff over their head, as this is threatening to a dog. If you wait patiently, and the dog approaches you and seems comfortable, then you might give the dog a scratch under their chin or on their side. Avoid reaching over their head or trying to pat their head. Remember that if they lean away from you at any point, it's likely an indication that they're uncomfortable and it’s best to stop.

Where to pet them

Dogs are all different, so you’ll get to know where they enjoy being stroked the most over time. They may even have a ticklish spot, where they love a good scratch! If you’re unsure, good places to start are the chin, ears, chest, and back. And if your pooch rolls over on their back, you can usually take this as an invitation for belly rubs. Start with gentle, circular motions and adjust your pressure according to how your dog responds so you don't hurt them or cause discomfort.


howw to pet a puppy


Areas to avoid

It's important to know what areas to avoid when petting a dog, as some areas can be sensitive and may cause discomfort, regardless of the pressure. For example, the top of their paws is one of the most sensitive parts of their body, so they might find the sensation of having them touched tickly, uncomfortable or just irritating. Their tail and hind legs are other sensitive areas, and having them touched can make them feel vulnerable, so you should avoid these unless prompted by your dog. And contrary to popular belief, lots of dogs don’t really enjoy having their head and face pet, as it feels like an invasion of their personal space. Petting your pup is a fantastic way to spend quality time with them and show your love and affection, but it’s essential to understand the dos and don'ts. By approaching your dog calmly, and avoiding sensitive areas, petting can help build a healthy bond between you. So go ahead and lavish your furry friends with petting, and enjoy the love and affection! For more tips and advice on caring for your dog, check out our pet care blog.

© 2023 Mars or Affiliates.