where do dogs like to be petted

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Pet parents enjoy petting their dogs whenever they meet but where do dogs like to be petted the most? They equally love being petted in the right areas and in the correct way.

Some dogs enjoy more gentle touches while other pups like being petted with a deeper stroke.

Whichever the case, you need to know how best you can achieve this without upsetting your furry friend. Petting your dog might seem to be a straightforward task until you touch him in the wrong area. So, where do dogs love to be petted?

This is a question that perhaps should attract the attention of dog owners who would want to share the love with their furry friends in the right manner.

Petting your dog wrongly might make him nervous and he might run away from you or try to be aggressive.

When this is done continuously, your dog might develop unwanted behavior such as avoiding you and showing aggression to people.

If you have ever petted your dog, you will immediately notice that there are some sweet spots where they love to be touched while there are some other places where they avoid.

It is therefore very important to know the most appropriate place to touch your dog. This will make your bonding time lovely and your dog will love you more for the friendship you show him.

Why Do Dogs Like to Be Petted?

Pet parents certainly love bonding with their dogs through petting, feeding, and playing together. But the question that we need to ask ourselves now is do dogs enjoy being petted?

Similar to humans, dogs are social creatures, and they always want to receive affection from those they love. For this reason, most dogs would only enjoy it when petted by people they know and trust.

Petting dog on a couch

Dogs love to be petted because it is a way in which they receive love and affection from humans. Research has shown that when dogs are petted properly, they release Oxytocin, the love hormone.

This hormone is responsible for creating the chemical bond between dogs and humans hence the adage that a dog is man’s best friend.

Petting a dog is not only good for our bonding but also helps to stabilize his mental health. Dogs love to be petted because it feels very good to them. They always enjoy receiving gentle strokes on their nice coats and it makes them very relaxed.

Aside from giving him a nice treat as a reward, petting your dog is also a good way to show appreciation/reward him for good behavior.

Dogs will therefore associate petting with something nice they have done and they feel fulfilled when they make their pet parents happy.

Should You Pet a Sleeping Dog?

It is always a good idea to allow your dog to have a night of uninterrupted sleep. You should let sleeping dogs lie, and allow them to get the much-needed rest.

Petting a sleeping dog may wake him up abruptly and he might show some levels of aggression towards you.

Sleeping dog

You can however gently stroke your dog into his sleep, to encourage him to rest more. When you do this, you need to keenly observe and find out if he has slept and leave him to peacefully rest.

Where Do Dogs Like to Be Petted the Most

Every dog has that specific place where he loves to be gently petted. Even though the specific spot might be different for some dogs, we are going to highlight the 5 best spots to pet a dog.

1.      Under The Chin

This is perhaps the sweetest spot for most dogs. If you are approaching your dog to pet him, you can always extend your hand below his chin and give him a gentle caress around the area.

Petting dog under his chin

2.      The Chest

Your dog’s area between the front legs is a great spot to pet him gently. You can reach out to this area as your dog sits or even lies down.

When petting your dog on his chest, it is recommended to extend your hand from the side as opposed to his head. Let him feel the affection without necessarily seeing your hand.

petting dog on his chest

If your dog has trusted you enough, you can pet his chest by wrapping your arms around his body and gently stroking his chest as you hug him.

3.      The Belly

If your dog badly feels like he needs some petting, then he will show up in your personal space and lie upside down, and expose his belly for you to touch.

Petting dog on his belly

When he does this, you need to pet his belly gently and carefully stroke him to continue finding the sweetest spot.

4.      The Side of The Neck

Gently holding your dog by the sides of his neck is an effective way of arousing his attention and interest in you. You can hold this area of his body and gently stroke him to make him relaxed and enjoy your companionship.

Petting dog's neck

Dogs who love barking will find a pet on the neck’s side as a soothing way to relieve their muscles, especially after barking for quite some time.

5.      The Shoulder

Most dogs find it soothing to be caressed carefully around the shoulder. If you have an active dog, then this might seem like a massage session for him to relieve the muscle pain he has had from jumping up and down.

Petting dog on his shoulders

6.      The Back

The back is another sweet spot for most dogs and you need to be careful when petting him in this area.

You should pet him by stroking his coat gently in one direction (preferably from front to back). This feeling will soothe your dog and increase the bonding that you have with him.

How To Pet Your Dog Properly

Before knowing the best spots to pet your dog, you first need to know how dogs like to be pet. Petting your dog perfectly will make him more comfortable, and relaxed, and he will certainly enjoy your bond. Some dogs are sensitive to touches and they might feel intimidated when petted in the wrong way.

Dog being petted on his head

If you are visiting your friends and their dog approaches you, always enquire from them if it is appropriate for you to pet him.

Do not quickly move your hands around his coat without knowing from his pet parents if he has any touch sensitivity issues.

It is always best to pet a dog that has come into your personal space willingly. Avoid invading your dog abruptly in his space for petting.

If you need to gently stroke your dog in his space, then you need to approach him quietly and gently. Do not make him nervous with an abrupt appearance.

You can also pet your dog when he is playing with his favorite dog toys. This can also be used as a way to encourage and train your dog on how to interact with his toys effectively.

A dog playing with his chew toy

When petting your dog, avoid looking at him directly into his eye because he might feel threatened and might move away from you.

Most dogs have associated direct eye contact with behavior correction, he might think that you want to yell at him to discourage bad behavior.

After your dog has approached you in your personal space, avoid moving your hand over his face and head. This will make your dog defensive and he might leave immediately.

Petting dog on his head

If you notice that your dog is resisting your petting, you need to stop immediately and let him be. Allow him to do the things he loves at that particular time, maybe he just wanted to come to sit next to you, to take an undisturbed nap.

You can know that your dog is not in the mood for petting by observing his body language and looking out for any signs of fear, aggression, or anxiety.

Teaching Your Kids to Pet Dogs Properly

Many dogs that have bitten children have always done so when the adults are not around monitoring them. Children are innocent about handling pets and sometimes they can cross the red line and completely provoke your dog.

Supervising kids with dogs

You need to teach your child to never pull the dog’s tail under any circumstances. Children are curious, and when they look at a dog’s tail, they may be tempted to pull it and see how it feels.

Unfortunately, tail pulling can make your dog aggrieved and he may respond by biting your child.

Most children also have the habit of tapping dogs on the back. This is so common to them apparently because it is much easier especially when the dog’s height matches his own.

Discourage your children from tapping the back of your dog because this action always provokes most dogs.

Infor your children to always seek consent from you before petting your dog. You are in a better position to understand the mood of your dog and assess whether it is appropriate for anyone to touch them at that particular time.

It is important to also inform your children to never engage with strange dogs at all times. Make them understand that their play partners are the dogs in your house and that all others might be a danger to them.

The last thing you may never want is for your beloved child to be chased, bitten, and even injured by a strange dog whose medical history you may never get.

This is a guide I wrote on how kids should interact with dogs, that you might find helpful.

Places To Avoid When Petting Your Dog

The reason we all need to learn how to pet dogs properly is mainly that there are some areas where you are not required to touch them.

It is therefore important that you familiarize yourself with these areas and always keep them off your hands whenever you are gently stroking your furry friend.

When it comes to the sweet spots to pet your lovely dog, there is no general rule because every dog has his preference for where he loves to be gently scratched.

However, there are some areas where ALL dogs would love you to avoid petting them.

These areas include the face, tail, genitals, and legs. Dogs are sensitive to these body parts and when you touch them, you will notice that they would want to move away from your hand.

If you continuously touch your dog in these areas, then he might start avoiding you and he may become aggressive the subsequent times you extend your hand to him wrongly.

Why Do Some Dogs Hate Being Petted?

You may have tried to pet your dog on all the possible sweet spots but he still shows unwillingness. Your furry friend may be one of the rare dogs that don’t take petting kindly anymore.

The following might be some of the reasons why your pup does not like any touch on his body.

Sleeping dog

1.      The Way He Was Brought Up

Some dogs have been raised with very minimal human interactions and they have grown up knowing the close affection of humans. Most of these dogs are already adults and it is not much you can do to revert how they perceive humans.

Lonely puppy

2.      History Of Abuse and Pain

Some dogs have experienced a painful history related to petting or other sorts of abuse.

Such abuses might be continuous petting in the wrong area for a prolonged period. For such a dog, it might be difficult to extend your arm to him without receiving some sort of backlash.

3.      Medical Condition

Your dog might suddenly refuse to accept your gentle hands on his body because he is sick and might be undergoing some form of pain.

Lonely golden retriever

If you had been petting your furbaby previously without much resistance and he suddenly doesn’t want any touches, you need to examine him for any medical condition.

If you are not able to immediately recognize any sign of disease then it is recommended to proceed to the vet immediately for a checkup.

4.      Wrong Petting

It is possible that your dog no longer lets you get hold of him because he has realized how wrong you pet him continuously.

Wrong petting can be painful to dogs because it exerts pressure on some sensitive body parts over and above touching them in the wrong areas.

5.      He Might Be Nervous

If your dog is new to your home, likely, he is still scared and fearful of his new surroundings.

As such he may avoid getting close to you and even keep away any attempts to be petted because he is yet to establish any close relationship with you.

In this case, you need to allow your dog to familiarize himself with his new surroundings and thereby create affection with his newly found family members.

To Conclude

Now that you know the top 6 areas where dogs like to be petted, you can try it out with your furbabies and see how it goes.

Remember to pet your dog only when he wants to be petted, otherwise, you might be disturbing him when he needs to rest.

Finally, petting your dog can also be a good opportunity to examine him for possible skin bumps or other things like ticks and fleas. As you soothingly stroke his coat, ensure you pay attention to the skin’s smoothness and check for anything unusual.

You can in this case use a good dog brush when petting your dog, I’m sure he will love it.

Always consult with your vet if you notice any strange behavior or unusual skin bump while petting.

Thank you for reading through this informative article. If you have any concerns or questions, please leave a comment below and I will get back to you.

Written By

Laura is the founder of Furs'n'Paws. She is a also a pet writer and expert with more than 20 years of experience of working with dogs and cats. She developed a very strong love for animals at a young age. Her passion led her to establish a thriving pet sitting and dog walking business in Dubai. As an expert in pet training, behavior, and nutrition, Laura is committed to helping pet owners and pet lovers by offering high-quality information on a wide range of topics.

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