Knowing how to pet a
dog can mean the difference between being his favorite human or being the human he avoids at all costs. The wrong method could have your pooch running for the hills, but the right strategy will make him putty in your hands.
Whether you’re old friends or have just met, we’ve put together a few do’s and don’ts below on how to properly pet your
The Do’s and Don’ts of Dog Petting
DO Let the Dog Initiate Contact
Instead of reaching out to the dog and touching him, allow him to make first contact. Don’t hover over him, as this can be perceived as threatening — instead, turn your body slightly to the side and kneel or squat down next to him, allowing him to approach you first.
DO Be Aware of the Dog’s Body Language
A dog who is ready to be petted should appear relaxed and/or eager to engage. He may have slightly turned-back ears, and his tail will be at medium height, wagging in wide sweeps. If he appears leery or jumpy, avoid petting him.
DO Proceed Slowly
Slow and relaxed petting, much like a gentle massage, will be calming and soothing to a dog. Pet him in the direction in which his fur lies. If he enjoys it, he will likely lean into you or actively seek more contact if you stop petting him.
DO Know the Best Spots to Pet
DON’T Be Overly Affectionate
Avoid hugging the dog, as this prevents him from moving and can seem threatening. Teach children never to hug dogs, even if they spend time with a dog who tolerates them. Kissing a dog or putting your face close to his is also not a good idea, as this could lead to a bite.
DON’T Pet a Dog Who Is Chained Up or Behind a Barrier
Never try to pet a dog who is chained up, in a car or behind a fence. Feeling trapped may lead the dog to bite as a means of self-protection. Always ask permission before petting a dog on a leash.
More from Vetstreet
7 Signs of Submissive Behavior in Dogs
10 Reasons to Fall in Love With a Mutt
10 Ways Your Cat Shows You Love
Walking the Dog: Tips to Make It Safe and Fun
More on Vetstreet:
- 5 Dog Owner Mistakes to Avoid
- The Do’s and Don’ts of Picking Up Dogs
- How Petting a Dog Benefits the Pooch — and You!
- 6 Signs Your Dog Has You Trained