Petting Your Dog: Doing It Properly

Do you know how to pet your dog?

Well, of course you do. After all, you’ve been doing so for years, and Fido is ecstatic every time you stroke his head and scratch his ears. Petting mutually benefits both parties, as it releases stress-relieving hormones and makes you feel extremely relaxed.

Touch is underrated, and dogs value it more as a reward than verbal cues and even treats. That being said though, knowing the right places and ways to pet your dog is a must since doing it wrong can result to an attack – especially in children.

Petting an Unfamiliar Dog

Whether you’re in a park or in someone else’s home, you’ll meet and likely pet a dog. This happens often, and at times, it doesn’t go well. Some dogs are not open to meeting and being petted by strangers, and such instances could lead to horrific dog bite incidents. Whether it’s a bored pitbull or a jolly-looking Golden retriever, here are the rules in petting a dog you just met:

• Golden rule: wait for it to initiate contact. Be sure to teach your children the same, especially if the dog in question is trying to avoid contact, especially if it’s scared or visibly lost.

• Squat down and invite him to come over. It’s also recommended to turn sideways, especially if you’re dealing with a shy dog. If he comes over, do not make sudden movements or put your hand above his head – this can seem menacing to it.

• Make minimal eye contact. Bear in mind that maintaining eye contact with dogs is a sign of dominance and is perceived as a threat.

• When he approaches and sniffs you, he’s not giving you the green light to pet him. He’s simply trying to gather information about you, taking your scent, and learning what you ate for lunch that day.

• If he backs away while doing so, do not force the issue.

• If his posture and eyes are relaxed as he approaches towards you, he’s indicating that he desires your touch and attention, you’re free to pet him.

• Once he attempts to go away, let him, rather than deal with an animal with no intention to stay with you any longer.

It’s best to touch it slowly while applying gentle pressure. Doing it roughly will give it a bad impression of you, causing it to avoid you altogether.

How to Touch and Places to Stroke

Once you’ve started petting, you’ve already established a bond with the dog in question. However, you’re still not in the clear yet: if you do something improperly, you might end up breaking those fragile bonds you’ve just formed. Here are some cardinal rules in touching and stroking:

• The best places to touch and stroke are the chest, shoulders, and the base of the neck.

• It’s a popular misconception that dogs want to be petted on top of the head. However, hovering your hand over it is a threatening gesture, and it will likely make it nervous.

• Other areas you should avoid caressing include the muzzle, ears, paws, legs, and tail. A dog lying on its back isn’t actually inviting you to rub its belly, it’s simply a form of submission.

• Be sure to stroke your hands and fingers on the same direction on where the fur lies. Do not ruffle its fur or put it in complete disarray.

Overall, petting your dog is a therapeutic experience, both for you and him, and is a way on showing how you care for him. Just remember the above mentioned facts and you’ll be doing it smoothly!

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