Just like people, dogs are individuals that have different likes and dislikes. They have times they want to be touched and times they don’t. But all that said, they’re generally very social animals that enjoy spending time with people. This means that getting a good scratch or massage is something they’re waiting for. Keeping this in mind, it’s important to know how to approach a dog and where to touch him or her, especially on your first meeting.
#1 – Chest
One of the best places to pet a dog is on their chest. This is because you don’t want to be reaching over the dog, especially if you’re a stranger, and it gives the dog time to smell you and see you coming. Surprising a dog is a good way to frighten them and even make them aggressive, so make sure you greet the dog before reaching down. A good chest scratch is something most dogs absolutely love. Take your time here and enjoy the sloppy kisses if you’re offered any!
#2 – Base of Neck
Not only is the base of the neck a spot most dogs enjoy being massaged, it’s usually right where their collar sits. This, like your clothes, can cause some mild irritation and makes the area more itchy. You might notice that a good enough scratch at the base of the neck brings your dog to kick their feet in joy!
#3 – Shoulders
Rather than going down the back of a dog, stick to the shoulder area. Dogs are powerful animals and the shoulders do a lot of work getting your pooch around. A good massage is likely to be much appreciated. In fact, this area might even get your dog to lie down and take a nice nap.
Wherever you plan on petting a dog, make sure you pet them the way they like it. Hard, fast and rough petting is likely to be uncomfortable. Think about yourself getting a massage, wouldn’t you want something a little softer? Use your finger tips to gently scratch or massage your dog’s skin and muscles and watch their body language to determine whether or not it’s something they enjoy. While a dog rolling over might look like an invitation to rub their belly, think before you touch. This is generally a submissive behavior that dogs display when they feel somewhat uncomfortable or frightened. If you know the dog well, go right ahead. But if you’ve just met or are only lightly acquainted, try to let the dog get to know you a little better before you move on to the belly rubs.
Cover photo: Maja Dumat via Flickr