Petting Your Furry Friend


How do you know if your dog wants to be petted or not? One of the best things of having a dog or any other pet animal is that we can pet them. Petting and stroking companion animals is one of the most relaxing feelings for us, humans. But does your dog always enjoy it? Here are the basics of petting your furry friend.


  • One of the best ways to figure this out is to see if your dogs comes near you and shows signs that it wants to be petted. You can choose to put your hand down and call out its name and see if they come over to you.
  • You can also get down at their level like sitting on the ground. This is more effective in dealing with fearful and scared dogs. Keep in mind not to look or stare at your dog directly; this could lead your dog to perceive you as a threat. You can sit sideways to your dog without looking at it directly.
  • If your dog comes over to you, sniffs or nudges your hand and hangs around near you, it means that it wants to be petted and you can begin stroking your dog. However, if your dog leaves after coming near, it probably does not want to be petted and it is the best to let it be.


Once you understand if your dog wants to be petted or not the next step is to know where it wants to petted. When it comes to companion animals, they have their own preferences about where they would like to be petted. Here are a few important points to keep in mind to make petting time enjoyable for you and your dog.

Generally, most dogs like to be petted on the sides of their chest and their shoulders. They also like to be petted just under the chin at the top of the chest. However, most dogs do not like it when they are petted on their top of the head or are held on the muzzle. They especially dislike when their collar is held while petting. Dogs like when they are stroked in the direction that their fur grows and not against it. It is also important for dog owners to remember that their dogs are not necessarily asking to be petted on their belly each time they roll over and show it to them. However, this is also important to understand that each dog is different with its own choice of likes and dislikes. Pay attention to how your dog is behaving when you pet it and figure out its favorite areas to be petted.


After you have learnt how to tell if your dog wants to be petted and where it wants to be petted, the next step is to do consent tests to understand if they like it and would want you to do more. Here are a few ways to do so –

  • If you have already initiated petting, simply stop doing so and see how your dog reacts to it. If your dog gets up and moves away from you, it means it had enough and does not want to be petted anymore. However, if they paw at you or nuzzle you it means that they want you to keep petting them.
  • If your dog leans on you it means it is enjoying and wants you to keep petting them.
  • Always pay attention to your dog’s body language while you are petting them. Apart from leaning, look for signs of being happy and relaxed; most commonly you will find your dog’s mouth to be open with a loose tail wag which is good signs of your dog enjoying being petted.
  • A dog that is enjoying being petted may also move the part of their body where they want to be petted near you or your hand.
  • Do not forget to look for signs that indicate that your dog is not happy and is not enjoying being petted. Some of the most common signs for this are panting, sniffing the ground, yawing, licking its nose or the lips, freezing and being still and even growling. An unhappy dog will also have its tail tucked between its legs and will lean away from you.

If your dog is showing happy signs, keep petting them. However, if it is showing signs of displeasure, stop right away and let your dog be. If your growls or barks at you for being petted or stroked never punish them as this may make your dog be afraid of you which i not a good thing.

It is also important for dog owners to know that dogs prefer a low intensity petting session. Hence, keep in mind to not be too harsh with the strokes. Dogs do not like to be hugged as it is of high intensity. Most dogs like to be near their owners while being petted while still having the freedom to move away. Hence, it is advised that owners do not hug their dogs. The same also applies while giving dogs kisses as they are of high intensity and often involves the being held tightly.

Each dog has its own preferences. Your dog’s choices of being petted may differ from your neighbor’s. Hence, take time in understanding what your dog needs and enjoys.


Children love pets especially dogs. We have heard many stories of children and puppies actually growing up together and forming special bonds. However, you must take special care while children are petting dogs. This is because children, who are still growing, do not have full motor control. This can make them be a too harsh accidently while petting and stroking dogs. Here are a few points to remember while children are petting your dog.

  • Keep a close eye on all interactions between children and your dog and make sure none of these interactions go unsupervised.
  • Since children can be accidentally rough on dogs, you can choose to guide their hands making sure they are gentle with their strokes.
  • Children generally like intense interactions like hugging or giving kisses. However, your dog may not like being closely held or being embraced. Make sure children do not do things that your dog might not appreciate as this might even lead to dangerous situations.
  • Teach children to never approach any dog who is still or lying down as this means the dog does not want to be petted. If children try to pet a dog that is not welcoming, they might end up being bitten by it.
  • Teach children to call the dog and let it show if it wants to be petted or not. Teach children the signs that indicates so. Also make them understand that it is important to give dogs their own freedom of choice.
  • Do not ever let your guard down when children are around dogs, irrespective of whether they are familiar to each other or not.
  • If you have a dog which generally does not like being around kids or is a little “unfriendly”, you can put pet gates to keep both of them separate and safe while still allowing visual contact between both.
  • While petting a dog that’s not yours always ask the owner if their dog is friendly with kids and if it is okay to pet it.
  • Never let children pet a dog that is chained or is behind a fence.


Just like us humans, dogs to have their own individuality and their own personal choices. Each dog is different and has its own preferences of where and how it wants to be petted. Spending time with your dog and getting to know it is the only way to learn what your dog likes and dislikes.

If you have multiple pets, you need to understand that each of them is different in their own ways. Do not assume all of your pets to like to be petted in the same way.

A lot of people think that their dogs like to hugged, kissed or rubbed on their tummy. May be they do, however it is important to pay close attention to their behavior and body language while petting it. Just because they do not growl or move away does not mean they are enjoying it. Look out for signs of contentment and joy. If you are having a hard time in understanding what your dog likes, stop and do a consent test. This will help you understand your dog’s preferences better and have a better animal-human relationship.