Petting a dog may seem so simple for most pet owners, but it’s not the case with some.
While certain petting tactics will have a dog shoving his body against the owner eager for affection, other petting strategies send most dogs running in the other direction. Not all breeds start out eagerly seeking affection. Some dogs may not welcome demonstrative displays of affection.
Fortunately, there is an ideal and wrong way to pet a dog. Sadly, most people always dive right into touching a dog they just met or don’t even know. Some pet owners also fail to read their dog’s body language when they are trying to tell them to “stop.”
Here is everything you need to know about petting your dog correctly, including petting styles to avoid and those to employ.
Successful petting is greatly determined by how you approach a dog. Always remember not to pet the dog until he hints you to go ahead. Despite what a lot of people were taught, it’s not always a good idea to offer a dog your hand to sniff. Follow the steps below for a successful first impression with a dog.
• Inquire from the owner if you can handle the dog- Most dogs always look friendly from the outside, but you may not be able to tell how the dog reacts to strangers if you don’t really know him. Follow the owner’s instructions. You are also free to inquire the owner about the dog petting preferences.
• Be very careful when approaching a dog that has no owner- This often happens when you come across a stray dog on the street. You need to approach such a dog cautiously and stay in a position where you can be able to defend yourself just in case. Always remember that chained dogs are more likely to bite. The same applies to dogs that are busy eating or chewing on something.
• Draw back from action if the pup displays any signs of discomfort or aggression- Signs of discomfort consist of pulling the ears back, holding the tail low, lip licking, and displaying the whites of its eyes. Signs of aggression include holding the body in a rigid position, growling, raising the tail, and barking. Abandon the petting attempt if the dog does not calm down within half a minute.
• Invite the dog to approach you by bending over closer to their level- Remember not to bend down directly over the dog because it could make him feel under threat. Relax, squat down, extend your hand, and let the dog come to you. Having treats in handy is one of the best tactics that usually works out for many people.
• Persuade the dog to come closer to you- Some dogs may feel shy or even hide from you. It’s better if you could ask about the dog’s name. Use the name to gently and persistently persuade the dog to come close to you. Most dogs become less aggressive or shy at the mention of their names.
• Offer your fist for the dog to examine- You can only hold out your fist for the dog to investigate if he appears relaxed and doesn’t show signs of discomfort or aggression. Your fist should be directed towards the dog’s nose and not the face. By sniffing you, the dog will be evaluating whether you’re a threat or not. Wait until the dog is satisfied with sniffing you before you start petting him. It’s even better when he starts licking you because it’s a way of letting you know that he has an affection for you and he already trusts you.
• Evaluate whether the dog is comfortable and ready for petting- A comfortable dog will loosen its muscles, wag its tail, and make a brief eye contact. Wagging tails may also insinuate that a dog is tense and ready to bite. Make sure you can differentiate between the two. Stop petting the dog and hold your fist out again if he tries to move away.
2. Petting an Unfamiliar Dog
When you see an unknown or stray dog, it’s important not to spook him as you approach. Most people often make a mistake of running after a stray dog trying to catch him. Even the nicest dogs will panic if you approach them instantly.
Here is what you should do when you want to pet an unfamiliar dog:
• Pet the dog around the ears if he doesn’t show signs of aggression- Do not approach the dog from above its face. It’s advisable that you approach the dog from the side of his head.
• Proceed to other areas- Continue to other areas if you have succeeded in petting the dog around the ears. Try moving your hand across the crown or the back, while gently scratching with your fingers. Don’t pet the dog’s legs, private parts, and the tail.
• Stop petting if the dog reacts weirdly- Dogs have different petting preferences. Any sudden moves, including lowering the tail and growling should signal that you need to stop whatever you are doing and stay still. You may pet different spots if the dog calms down.
• Avoid sudden movements- Maintain gentle scratching because moving rapidly to a different area may cause unwanted reactions.
3. Petting a Familiar Dog
Pet owners should teach their dogs to tolerate being touched and petted by strangers and children in places they don’t like. The following are some ideal ways you can employ to ease your dog into petting.
• Learn which types of petting your dog adores- Identify your dog’s sweet spots. Most dogs prefer belly rubs, while others like being stroked on the back. Avoid rubbing the dog’s belly if he seems tense. Concentrate more on areas the dog enjoys being petted most.
• Teach children and strangers how to pet dogs- Dogs are often nervous around strangers and kids. It doesn’t matter whether a dog has grown up with children since kids tend to be clumsy when handling dogs. Teach kids in the house to know how to kiss, grab, or hug a dog. Make sure that children understand the negative impact of pulling a dog’s tail.
• Massage your dog thoroughly once in a while- Give your dog an enjoyable massage by rubbing him from head to tail for about 10 to 15 minutes. This will also help you identify any bumps on your dog’s skin that requires veterinary checkup.
Petting a dog reduces stress and anxiety, encourages deeper breathing, and strengthens his immune system. Furthermore, petting also strengthens the bond between you and your dog. Aside from petting, pet owners can also play and bond with their dogs to increase circulation and decrease pain. Below are some of the best dog toys that provide lots of comfort to your dog and are also important to your furry friend’s welfare.
Zippypaws NomNomz- Boba Milk Tea – Plush Dog is great for small and medium dogs. It has 2 round squeakers that your dog will probably enjoy playing with.
Planet Dog Orbee Tuff Artichoke Treat Dispenser Dog Toy is suitable for dogs of all sizes and breeds. You can take dog training to a whole new level with the treat dispensing Orbee-Tuff Artichoke.
KONG Squeakair Ball Dog Toy combines two classic toys; the squeaker toy and the tenni ball, making it perfect for games of fetch. It’s made with non-abrasive felt, which will not wear down your dog’s teeth.
Furball Collective Ang Ku Kueh Squeakie Dog Toy contains fun squeakers that will entice and excite your dog. It also comes in a soft plush with cotton filling.
Kong Classic Dog Toy is a mentally stimulating toy that offers enrichment by helping satisfy a dog’s instinctual needs. The red natural rubber is ideal for dogs that like to chew.