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Where Do Dogs Like to Be Pet? The Best Spots to Choose

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

petting an old dog

Dogs are curious creatures. They tend to take on our moods and support us when we are feeling down. One way that we can support our dogs is to pet them on a daily basis. Petting your dog helps create a bond and reassures them that you are there for them. But where should a dog be pet? Which spots do dogs like to be pet the most? Why do dogs like to be petted, anyway? Here are the answers to these great questions. Some of the best areas to pet a dog are the chest, neck, shoulders, rump, tail, and behind the ears.

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When to Pet a Dog

Dogs tend to show signs that they are open to being petted, especially when it comes to interacting with strangers or family friends who are visiting the house. A dog that is open to petting usually holds their ears down and back while they wag their tails back and forth. Dogs that are ready for petting may drop their heads in your lap and rub their faces on your body.

Most dogs that want to be petted will have already sniffed you and found out all that they can about you. Dogs that approach you without encouragement and do not back away when you talk are likely ready for petting. Remember, it is always a good idea to get the permission of a dog owner before petting or touching a dog that you meet outside of your home or close social environment.

Not every dog that you come across in public is well trained and easy to interact with. Also, dogs can get out of their yards and off their leashes occasionally. Never approach a lone dog that you do not know, no matter how friendly they seem to be.

When Not to Pet a Dog

Dogs are not always prone to petting. If a dog is agitated, fearful, or even a little questionable about your presence, chances are that petting is the last thing that they want to experience. Sometimes, dogs seem friendly until they are touched, and only their owner can clue you in as to how you should proceed for everyone’s safety.

However, if no owner is in sight and any aggression is perceived, it is best to back up and walk the other way to ensure your own safety. Dogs that are growling, that have their ears upward and/or forward, or that seem unsure of your presence are not good candidates for petting. If you do go to pet a dog and they back away, you should stop because it’s a clue that petting is not welcome.

brown dog scared
Image Credit: Patrick H, Shutterstock

How and Where to Pet a Dog

While it seems natural to pet a dog on the top of their head, this is usually the last place that a pooch wants to be petted unless dealing with a close family member. Most dogs that are open to being petted appreciate a pat or stroke on the chest and around the neck areas. The shoulders, the rump, and the tail areas are also typically welcome petting spots. Many dogs like to be petted behind their ears because it helps them to relax just as much as it relaxes the human doing the petting.

Petting should be slow and deliberate. Fast, hard petting can result in overexcitement and even aggression. Try rubbing a dog in a circular pattern, slowly and with intention. Stroke a dog’s ears from base to end several times to create extra endorphin releases for both you and the pooch. All dogs are a little different, so experimentation is always a good idea.

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What Makes Dogs Like Being Petted?

One of the biggest reasons dogs like to be petted is that they perceive it as a form of affection. Petting can help improve your pooch’s mental health because they feel the camaraderie and support that they would in a natural pack of dogs. Dogs like to be petted because they like the attention. They also happen to want the interaction that comes with petting. It comes down to good feelings, released endorphins, interaction, and bonding when petting is in play.

australian shepherd dog having treats
Image Credit: Christian Mueller, Shutterstock

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Final Thoughts

Dogs love to get petted, but it depends on things such as the time, the place, and the mood. It is important to know how to read a dog before deciding whether to offer a pet. Talk to the owner whenever possible. When an owner is not spotted, it is best to keep your distance from a loose dog that you come across in public. All that said, petting a dog whenever possible can be emotionally beneficial for you and the dog you are petting, so don’t pass up the opportunity for a petting session whenever it arises!

Featured Image Credit: Jean Alves, Pexels

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