Petting Lessons: How to Pet your Dog

One day you are walking down the road and see a bunch of paws against the display case of a pet shop’s window. It’s hard to resist not reaching out to the little puppies with their puppy dog eyes. And then you get yourself one of the puppies so that you can pet the dog or cuddle them all the way you want. But you know what? You need to think twice before you even can pet your dog. 

A dog lover always gets excited to see a pup but being one also means you need to know how to pet your dog the right way.  Your touch may become greedy or too rough for the dog, and if your dog starts to resist you then it’s the only validation you need that your “unconditional love” is not what a dog wants. 

So what’s the best possible way to pet your dog?

Get your Dog to Like You in Most Easy Ways 

If you think there’s no right or wrong way to pet your dog, then you have another thing coming. It’s true, canines can actually come to hate how you pet them. Much like humans, dogs also show complex behavior. Did you ever think about why your dog looks gloomy even though you are feeding him right and doing all sorts of things that a dog owner must? 

What makes your Dog Growl at you?

It can be for a number of reasons like;

  • Medical conditions, he may find the physical touch painful for some reason
  • Weak nerves, in case your dog may be nervous around unfamiliar faces 
  • The fear of a new situation something the dog is not used to can make him aggressive and so on

Here’s what you need to do;

1. Minimum Eye Contact

Regardless of what you may have heard, how looking them in the eyes make the animals know you are fearless is a myth. It doesn’t work with dogs. Maybe your dog stares at you at all times but if you make direct eye contact with your canine it might have an opposite effect. 

Dogs can get confuses, which may raise the anxiety in them at some ground level. If a dog feels uncomfortable because you look directly into his eyes he may become outright aggressive too. So, you need to make sure to have a gentle approach towards your dog even with your eyes. 

Keep your eyes slightly averted, and always keep your body slightly angled away too. This way the dog has much room to respond. Don’t approach your dog too fast either it can eventually spook them. 

2. Invite your Dog to Greet and Meet 

Why not let the dog approach you? this turns out pretty well especially if you have a friendly dog. a retriever will approach you, the moment you are at the door because of the love the idea of welcoming. Similarly, some dog breeds are wanted more attention than others, and perhaps you approaching them petting on their heads or rubbing behind their ears can soften or ease them up right away. 

If your dog sniffs at your hands and walks away, the signal is quite clear: not interested!

If the dog sticks around nudges your knees or elbows he wants to play with you. So if you adopt an adult dog let him get used to people around him. Restrict the communication with the family members at first, once he feels comfortable take him out gradually and let him become aware of the strangers and other faces around him. 

3. Know Where to Touch!

This one is the most misinterpreted concept. Usually, people believe that dogs love being petted on their heads or muzzles. You can’t even imagine how wrong you are! 

One approach you may want to use is to just sit beside your dog. Direct contact can result in aggressive behavior easily. Get a familiar routine with your dog where you just sit with him. Once he does, you can pet him on the back (the most favorable spot) you can move fingers through the dog’s fur and they dig it. Eventually, it will put a dog to sleep too! 

Some dogs feel comfortable when petted on their chest, shoulder, or the base of the neck. You can try experimenting on it one by one. Try gentle scratching or rubbing slowly. Petting experience must be calming and therapeutic for your dog. 

4. Keep an Eye for Signs of Stress

Is your dog not eating properly? Fortunately, it was one of the most common signs that your dog is under duress. If you are thinking about how to get your dog to eat a proper meal, then stop petting him all the time. 

It may sound weird like you want to do the complete opposite of it. But a lot more petting (than usual) can cause stress too. According to the veterinarian, Karen Becker, you need to first observe whether you like physical contact or not. You need time to bond with your dog towards a positive relationship. This is only possible if you do not hover above him all the time. 

You can give him the reward treats, or often give a snack that he will come to love eventually. But let this be a product of good behavior. This way the dog will behave himself and he will become familiar with the petting notion as well that he might get a tummy rub or back rub if he remains a good boy. 

5. Avoid the Hugs

Humans may love hugging and cuddling but it’s not the same with dogs. Even a small dog breed is easy to scoop up in your arms but it doesn’t mean they need a bear crushing hug either. Instead, let them be. 

Hugs do make dogs uncomfortable for a lot of reasons. If you had your dog for a long time now, you already know his behavior. Although dogs crave companionship you still need to set the physical boundaries in terms of petting.  It doesn’t mean your dog doesn’t love you; they just need a space to not be intimidated.  For instance, if you have a retriever they might actually come to love it because they love the fondness being directed towards them instead of a hound or a German shepherd. So the response to hugs may vary from one dog breed to another. 

Common Petting Signs to Remember

  • Pet your dog gently on the shoulder 
  • You can also pet them on the lateral side of the chest 
  • The ventral part of the neck is considered a soothing gesture for the dog 
  • Slightly hold your dog on your lap (if he wants to) and pet him while he lies there
  • Hold the forepaw of your dog and rub slowly in circles 
  • Pet the dog but slightly on the side 

Love Comes in all Ways

You need to relax and let your dog breathe too. The companionship with your dog must be friendly and naturally borne, try avoiding being forceful. A good decent meal plan with the right petting tricks wills the job i.e. make your dog love you more. 

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Summra is a dog enthusiast fully committed to helping train fellow dog owners. She enlightens them to solve their furry friend’s behavioral issues and to focus on the dog’s needs in optimistic ways.