If you're like most people, your first instinct when seeing a dog is to provide loving pets. There's no better way to bond with your dog than through petting. Physical touch is important to dogs. It's a way to communicate with humans and share affection.
Furthermore, petting is therapeutic for canines. It can relieve stress and anxiety, lower their heart rate, and help them reach a calm place. Biologically, petting also stimulates the parasympathetic to reduce a dog's blood pressure and heart rate.
Dogs love petting so much that it also serves as a reward. For some pups, it's even better than a tasty treat!
Finding Those Sweetspots
You might not give how you pet your dog a second thought. But there is a right and wrong way to share that physical connection.
Every dog is different. Canines can react in unique ways based on their preferences and past experiences. Most people automatically go for the head or back. But have you ever wondered what your dog likes the most?
Contrary to popular belief, involuntary movements don't necessarily mean that a dog is enjoying your pets. We've all seen a dog's leg move uncontrollably as a response to petting or scratching.
Most people assume that the dog is in canine bliss! However, the reality could be much different.
When this occurs, something in your dog's nervous system triggers a reflex. Generally, it's no cause for concern, and it could mean your dog is having the time of its life. But sometimes, it could indicate an underlying medical problem!
As a result, you can't rely on seeing that involuntary movement alone to understand where your dog likes to be petted.
To get a better idea of where your dog likes to be petted you have to read your dog's body language. and pay close attention to how your dog reacts.
You may have to experiment to find the right spot.
While there are plenty of spots on the body dogs love, there are also many no-touch zones. If you ignore your dog's negative response, your touch could lead to aggression or irritation.
You want to see a calm and peaceful response. If a dog isn't reacting negatively, it usually means where you're touching is great.
Don't forget to be mindful of speed. Generally, long and gentle pets are better than aggressive scratches or fast zips of your hand. Your dog could mistake more powerful pets as punishment, turning an otherwise peaceful pet session into a moment of stress.
Where Do Dogs Like to Be Pet?
As mentioned earlier, all dogs are different. There are no guarantees that one dog's favorite spot is the same as another. The key is to try a few several areas and observe your pup's response to ensure they enjoy the experience.
Here are some of the most common sweet spots you should try first!
1. Underneath the Chin
Here's a great spot to touch if you have a strong bond with your dog. However, you should never go straight to this spot if you're meeting a new dog for the first time!
Some pups are uncomfortable with strangers touching their faces. Because it's right below the mouth, you could get a nasty bite.
But if your dog trusts you, this sweet spot can be one of the most calming. It's best to pet this area once your dog is calm and settled. Use your hand to gently caress the chin without moving it. Work your hand down to the neck, and you might see your pup slowly falling asleep.
2. Outer Thighs
Here's an often-overlooked spot. Many people don't gravitate towards the sides of the thigh, but it can be a fantastic sweet spot for your dog.
Your furry friend's rear legs get a lot of action. They play a big part in your dog's strength and mobility. Petting that area is like receiving a massage. If there's any soreness, petting can help soothe discomfort and encourage rest.
Some dogs love it when you sink your fingers into their fur and scratch their thigh. Experiment to see what your pup enjoys.
The neck is another area you should only pet if you have a good bond with your dog. Like the chin, the neck is vulnerable. Wild canines typically go for the neck when taking down prey, so you don't want to send the wrong message.
If your dog is already lying down or comes up to you for cuddles, apply light pressure to the neck. If your dog has longer fur, you can use your fingers to get in there and massage the skin.
Be wary of applying too much pressure. Harder pets could cause discomfort in your dog's throat.
4. Near the Tail Base
The base of the tail on the lower back is a common trigger response for those involuntary leg movements. As we mentioned earlier, those reflexes could be good or bad. Generally, if your dog seems like they genuinely enjoy physical contact in that area, you're good to go.
Some dogs love it so much that they will automatically turn their bodies whenever you lower your hand to pet them, hoping you'll go for the base of their tail!
Don't be afraid to get in there and scratch this spot if your dog likes stronger pets. Many dogs have difficulty reaching the base of their tail, so your pets could provide some great itch relief.
If your dog lays down and exposes their belly, pat yourself on the back! Belly exposure is the ultimate sign of trust in canines.
It's one of the most vulnerable parts of their body, so many dogs don't like getting pets there. But if yours does, belly rubs are a fantastic way to strengthen your already-amazing bond.
The chest can be hit or miss. Some dogs hate it. But dogs who love physical contact will go crazy when you stroke their chest.
Focus on the lower part of the chest. Usually, the sweet spot is towards the underside of the chest. Be gentle and experiment with deeper scratches to see how your pup reacts.
Petting behind your dog's ears is like nirvana for these animals. Like other spots around the face, you must build trust with your dog before going in for a pet.
When stroking this spot, focus on the area behind the ears where the cartilage starts. Try gentle pets before moving on to deeper scratches. Most dogs love more aggressive contact in this area. You'll know your dog loves it when they calm down and sit still the entire time you touch them.
Finally, we have the armpit. Here's another hit-or-miss spot. The armpit refers to the area between your dog's front legs and the lower part of its chest.
If you notice your dog trying to lick or chew this spot, they'll likely enjoy receiving a good scratch from you. In many dogs, it triggers those reflexes and provides much-needed relief.
A Final Word
What works for one dog doesn't always work for another. It's all about experimentation! Try these common sweet spots and see how your pup responds. Once you find what they love, you can treat your dog to all the physical contact they want!