A lot of dog owners will attest to the joys that come with having a furry companion in the house. Dogs not only give companionship but stroking or petting them are stress-busters for humans. Actually, it’s a two-way stream because in most cases, our dogs love it when we pet them, too.
Dogs like to be petted, all the time, because petting is a form of massage for dogs to feel good and comfortable. In addition, dogs prefer petting over verbal remarks as a form of praise. It is common to see our dogs wanting to be stroked behind their ears and on the belly if they want to be praised.
You may ask, ‘is there a right and a wrong way to pet my dog?’ and under what circumstances should I not pet a dog?’. In this article, we’ll give you the answers to these questions along with the different reasons why dogs love to be petted all the time.
Why Does My Dog Want Me To Pet Him All The Time?
It’s because your dog is a social animal that enjoys human companionship all the time. Each time you stroke your fur baby, it makes him feel good, safe, and accepted. Petting is a love language your dog receives from its human family.
This is why you’d see your dog come to you begging to be stroked behind the ears, on its belly, and on its back. Closing its eyes gently is a great sign that your dog is having a wonderful time while being petted.
Here are the other reasons why your dog likes to be petted…
Petting Is Beneficial For His Health
Stroking a human baby is known to help lower blood pressure and heart rate. But, did you know that these same effects can also be applied to your dog? By gently petting your dog, it becomes calmer, especially during stressful events such as having a new pet in the house or in the midst of a raging thunderstorm.
Petting Increases Oxytocin And Dopamine
A lot of studies concluded that not only do humans benefit from increased levels of “feel-good” hormones but our canine companions, as well. It was observed that dogs, after interacting with their owners through play and petting, have increased neurochemicals that are associated with positive feelings.
Petting As A Sign Of Submission
When your fur baby asks for more belly rubs, it means that it feels good and comforting. If it rolls on its back with its tongue lolling out and begs for more, it also signifies that it accepts you as the alpha. By this, it means that your dog trusts you completely and is ready to obey you all the time.
Sure, petting is always associated with a pleasant feeling, but are there instances when dogs “complain” of too much petting? Let’s talk more about the issue of conflict aggression.
There are some dogs that get tired of being petted too much. They have this “I have had enough syndrome”, and this is the reason why they can turn aggressive all of a sudden.
Not all dogs have the same personalities, some of them may grow up more aloof. These are the ones that are pretty much content with short periods of petting. They prefer to be in charge of their social interactions with humans and other pets.
Dogs that have conflict aggression problems tend to use aggression to stop uncomfortable situations like prolonged petting. Thus, they may be open to petting and then growl the next minute.
Is There A Wrong Way To Pet A Dog?
It depends. Unless you’ve earned their trust, some dogs are not comfortable being petted on the head because in their eyes, this is seen as an aggressive, threatening, and dominant gesture.
So, if it’s your first meeting, you may pet your newly acquainted dog in other safer areas, such as under the chin and the shoulder.
In general, however, most dogs enjoy being petted and cuddled by humans. In this section, we’d explore the sweet spots where dogs like to be touched.
The Base Of The Tail
It’s good to be petted in hard-to-reach areas but apart from that reason, the base of the tail has sensitive nerve endings that make the sensation heavenly for dogs.
Another reason why dogs love to be petted in this area may be due to skin allergies or simply, dry skin. Causes, such as weather, food allergies, and nutrient deficiencies, contribute to itchy skin, thereby making petting or scratching in that area feel so satisfying.
Just like humans, the shoulder is an area that feels relaxing when being petted. It is known to improve blood circulation and the lymphatic system, thereby strengthening a dog’s immunity.
Behind The Ears
We are certain that you’ve seen your dog in a heavenly state every time you pet it behind the ears. The two reasons why this area is one of the sweetest spots for dogs to be petted are reflexology and an increased level of endorphins.
The area behind the ears happens to be one of the sensitive pressure points in canine reflexology. Massaging this area does not only make them feel good but it relaxes them as well. If your dog is feeling angsty, petting behind the ears will calm its nerves down.
Plus, petting behind the ears stimulates both the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus. These glands are known to release a “feel-good” chemical known as endorphins.
The other parts where your dog loves to be petted include under its collar, belly, and upper chest.
Tips On How To Pet Your Dog The Right Way
Petting has calming effects, it is also important to know that each dog differs in touch sensitivity. Most of them love being petted but for some, petting can be stressful or upsetting. If your dog doesn’t like being petted, respect its space.
- Always observe your dog’s body language. Closed eyes, slow breathing, and leaning closer to you are signs that it wants to be petted.
- During petting, one thing to consider is the speed at which you pet your fur baby. The short, vigorous, and fast strokes can overstimulate a dog which can result in aggressive behaviors.
- On the other hand, the long and gentle strokes produce a more calming effect on your dog.
- It is better if you pet it in the direction of its fur. If you do it backwards, it may cause discomfort and stress.
When Should You Not Pet A Dog?
Knowing and understanding when you should not pet your dog is important for your own safety and your dog’s. If your fur baby is sleeping, or if it is showing signs of aggression and anxiety, petting is not recommended at these times.
Here are some of the factors that should warn you to not pet and to back off.
Do Not Pet A Sleeping Dog
Unless you’ve trained your dog for sudden sleep disturbances, we do not recommend that you pet it while sleeping, regardless if your fur baby seems to be having a nightmare.
If you do, do not blame your dog if it becomes aggressive and nips you.
Do Not Pet If You Notice Signs Of Aggression
Sometimes, even the sweetest dog can have some bad moments. It’s normal for a dog to get aggressive if it feels threatened.
For example, hugging your dog too tightly prevents it from moving well. This, in turn, leads to a feeling of being threatened, thus, it can get aggressive.
Teaching your child or young children not to hug a dog is highly recommended.
Do Not Pet An Anxious Dog
An anxious dog looks at himself in a negative way. It will shrink to the ground, lower its head, and place its tail between the legs. If you see these body language, do not pet the dog, lest you risk yourself getting bitten.
Fearful rolling on its back is another indication of an anxious dog. If you are greeted by a neighbor’s dog that immediately rolls on its back, avoid petting it. This gesture is not an invitation to play, rather, it is an indication of fear.
If you attempt to pet it, a fearful dog will growl at you after rolling on its back.
Is It Safe To Pet Service Dogs?
No, it’s because you are distracting them from their jobs. Even though it seems like the dog is not doing anything at all, it is actually busy observing its handlers.
Some service dogs are trained to sense decreasing blood glucose levels, impending seizures, among others. So, even if it appears that the service dog is resting, it is actually still working and you should never disturb it by petting.