Did you know that the way you pet your dog can make or break the relationship/bond you have with them? Yes, it’s that hard and simple at the same time. If your dog likes and approves the way you pet them, they will come close and want to be pet themselves and if they dislike the way you pet them, they will always try to turn away from you.
Why? Well, the right and wrong kind of petting can make the dog feel comfortable or uncomfortable. You might end up hurting or tickling the dog if you pet them the wrong way. Then the question is, how to pet a dog?
This might come as a shock, but your dog most probably won’t like to be pet right away if you are new to them. Many people think that being petted calms them and makes them comfortable, while it is true, they would want to be introduced and have a trustful relationship with you first or else you will end up scaring them.
With the information below, learn how to pet a dog the right way and make a calm experience out of it for the both of you:
- When can you pet the dog? After you make them trust you and be comfortable with you, you can try petting the dog.
- The first and most important guide to petting a dog is never to force it. Try gently petting them, but if they step back or jump, don’t forcefully pet them.
- Try to find out your dog’s favourite spot to be petted. Yes, this is true! Different dogs prefer different areas to be petted. The most common areas are the chest, shoulders, under the chin, around the ears and back of the neck.
- Be gentle. Even if your dog loves petting, they are not going to like it severely. And, as weird as it sounds, while petting, move the fingers in the direction of their fur because if you run your fingers in the opposite direction, you will detangle the fur and this can hurt them too.
- Wait for the dog to approach you first. Bend down and come at their level. Make them feel harmless about your presence and they will most likely come forward to be pet themselves. If they bark or show any aggressive behaviour, step back.
- Try approaching with your hand. This is almost like humans shaking hands. When you come to the dog, you convey to them that you want to be close and if they approve of it, they will approach back.
- If a dog is wagging its tail, they are most probably comfortable but this is not a fact and just an observational behaviour.
- Do not try to pet them on their tail. Most dogs feel very uncomfortable about this as they cannot see and control that area.
- Please do not pet the dog while eating or sleeping, as this causes discomfort and disturbs them. Remember, petting the dog is not about you but about how it makes them feel. So, they decide the timing.
Why do dogs need to be pet?
There is not much reasoning behind this but dogs indeed enjoy being petted on their sweet spots. It calms them, makes them feel loved, relaxed and secure that they have their owner’s attention. It gives them a sense of belonging to a particular human. It’s just like humans enjoy an expression of love, pets feel good about it the same way. It is also said that proper petting balances the heart rate in animals/dogs. If they have sensed some alarming situation or felt the danger of increasing their heart rate, petting them can relax them.
It is also believed that petting a dog makes the animal feel good and can also lower the blood pressure of humans and make them feel calm. Of course, all this will only work if you and your pet pass on that positive energy to each other. It’s all in the bond and connection that you share with your dog. If you are forcing it on them and if any of you does not seem to enjoy it, the experience is worth nothing in that case.
Some people also assume that if their dogs enjoy being pet by them, they will enjoy and be comfortable being pet by others too. While some dogs are very friendly, some are shy and introverts. They need to trust the person first. So, if you notice that your dog feels uncomfortable being pet by a friend or relative of yours, ask them to stop. The house that you share with your pet is not only supposed to be a comfortable and safe space for you but equally for your dog as well.
Does petting a dog relieve stress?
This is true and backed by research. In an experiment, some people were given the task of petting a dog for some time and it was noticed that the stress hormone; cortisol was lowered in their body. The participants said that it was a therapeutic experience for them.
Can a child pet a dog?
Many times children have enjoyed the company of dogs and like to play with them. But, when it comes to dog petting, make sure that the child is trained and educated about not doing it harshly and on the wrong spots.
There is countless information on the web regarding dog petting and other concerns. But, the only accurate way is to understand your dog. No website or information on the internet is precisely best for your dog. When it comes to petting, you as their owner need to build a trusted bond and then learn about their sweet spots.
In the current situation of the covid-19 pandemic, you should avoid other people petting your dog, increasing the risk of contamination. There have been cases of animals being positive of the virus.