Why do Dogs Like Being Petted?

It’s been said that dog is man’s best friend, and most dog owners would agree. From laying beside you on the couch when you’re sick to greeting you with an enthusiastic tail wag when you come home from work, dogs are always there when you need a little pick-me-up. Perhaps one of the most enjoyable things about having a dog is getting to pet them, and most dogs love this too. Why do dogs like being petted? The simple answer is because it feels good and they pick up on your energy that says that you’re happy with them at that moment.

Benefits of Petting a Dog

For humans, petting a dog is a relaxing and comforting experience. Whether you’re feeling the silky hair of a pittie pup or sinking your fingers into the deep fur of a malamute, it activates your tactile senses through texture and temperature, and petting your pooch has been shown to lower blood pressure and decrease feelings of stress.

Petting your dog on a regular basis can also make it easier for you to find any skin irritations or cuts that their fur may be hiding. Insects like fleas and ticks can be especially tricky to see through dense fur, but giving your dog a good once over through a massage can ensure you’re aware of anything that needs to be taken care of. As you’re petting your dog, also be aware of any signs that a certain area is painful or swollen. Dogs don’t usually show their pain unless it’s extreme, but they may yelp or try to get away quickly if you hit on a sensitive spot.

Why Do Dogs Like Being Petted?

From your dog’s perspective, it’s less about the touch itself — although those ear scratches and belly rubs are pretty great — and more about the energy you’re conveying through that touch. You’re more likely to pet your dog when you’re giving them praise, trying to convey love or seeking comfort, and they respond to that.

How Do Dogs Like to Be Petted?

Unlike with cats and other small animals like rabbits or guinea pigs, there aren’t a lot of wrong ways to pet a dog. Your own family pet may enjoy being petted along the back and sides, having the area under the ears scratched, having the top of their head rubbed or getting a good belly scratch. However, if you’re petting a dog that you’re not familiar with, it’s best to stay away from the belly, paws and head until they get to know you as dogs can be protective over these areas.

Before you pet any dog that you’re not familiar with — such as when you see one taking a walk with its owner at the park or go to meet a friend’s dog at their house — it’s important to approach slowly and ask both the dog and the owner if it’s OK.

Many dogs are protective of their owners on leash and don’t respond well to meeting new people like that, and you may need to avoid certain areas — such as the ears of a dog who has an ear infection. Coming up to the dog slowly with the back of your hand out shows that you’re not a threat and gives them a chance to smell you and give you a sign that they’re OK with petting, such as a low wagging tail or a friendly lick.

— Update: 22-02-2023 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article 6 Places Where Dogs Like to Be Pet from the website www.thesprucepets.com for the keyword do dog like being pet.

Dog lovers enjoy petting dogs, and most dogs enjoy just as much or even more. Some dogs like gentle pets while others prefer more pressure. Many dogs enjoy being scratched as well. In general, there are certain areas where dogs like to be pet and other areas to avoid. A dog's personal preference depends on the dog's personality, history, and relationship with you.

Why Dogs Like To Be Pet

Most dogs enjoy petting from people for several reasons. As dogs evolved from wolves, they learned about human communication. One way humans communicate is through touch, and dogs have learned not only to tolerate this; they often enjoy it. Dogs form close bonds with humans. They bond with us emotionally, physically, and chemically. This chemical bond occurs due to oxytocin, also called the love hormone, which increases in humans and dogs through affectionate interaction.

Perhaps the simplest reason why dogs like to be pet is that it feels good. Imagine how it may feel to have your hair gently stroked by someone you trust. Not all people would like this, but others love it. Similarly, not all dogs enjoy petting. Possible reasons for this include lack of human socialization, fear, history of abuse, pain, or simply personal preference. Some dogs enjoy being pet on certain areas of their bodies and dislike being touched in other areas. Additionally, some dogs enjoy being pet by trusted humans but not by strangers.

How to Pet a Dog

There are several places where most dogs enjoy petting. If you do not know the dog well, it's best to start slowly so you can assess the dog's reaction.

  • Ask the owner if it’s okay to pet the dog. Not all dogs are friendly and may become fearful or aggressive. Some dogs have areas that are sensitive or painful and should be avoided. Other dogs are fearful of strangers.
  • Avoid direct eye contact with the dog as this may be perceived as a threat.
  • Give the dog a chance to approach you first.
  • If you do approach the dog, do so slowly from the side. Coming at the dog quickly or directly may feel threatening or intimidating to the dog.
  • Do not move your hands towards the dog’s face or over the top of the head. This may make the dog fearful or defensive.
  • Begin to gently pet the dog in areas like the front of the chest, the upper and middle back, sides of the chest, and behind the ears.
  • Stop petting the dog if you notice resistance. Watch their body language for signs of fear or aggression. If you notice apprehension from the dog, slowly walk sideways away from her and avoid eye contact.

Some dogs enjoy petting in other areas, especially once they begin to trust you. If the dog is enjoying being pet, they may offer you another area to pet. They may lean their back or rump on you, push their head under your hand, or roll over to expose their belly. Note that exposing the abdomen is not always a request for belly rubs; it may be an invitation to play or an act of submission.

Continue to move slowly and pet the dog gently to see how they respond. If the dog still seems to be enjoying themselves, gradually pet them with more pressure but without roughness. Try scratching them lightly to see if they enjoy that as well. Some dogs love a good scratch, especially if you have long fingernails.

Many dogs enjoy petting from trusted people in the following areas:

  • Lower back near the base of the tail
  • Belly and underside of the chest
  • Top of the head and neck
  • Under the chin
  • On the front of the neck
  • On the sides of the thighs

Areas to Avoid

No two dogs are exactly alike, so you may be surprised at the places a dog likes to be pet. However, there are certain areas to avoid. The genitals and anus are obvious areas to stay away from; dogs are protective of these areas just like humans.

In general, other areas to avoid petting include the face, tail, feet, and legs. Hugging a dog should also be avoided unless you are certain the dog likes it. Many dogs dislike hugging and merely tolerate it. Of course, you may find that your own dog enjoys hugs or petting in one or more of these areas. Just remember not to do it to someone else’s dog.

— Update: 24-02-2023 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article Does Your Dog Like Being Petted – Dog Body Language from the website avodermnatural.com for the keyword do dog like being pet.

You may be thinking to yourself, “What kind of dog doesn’t like being petted?” However, the truth is, not all dogs want to be rubbed or petted. While some dog owners may already know whether their dog enjoys being petted, others may be in the process of figuring out their dog’s preferences. Regardless, all dog owners should pay attention to a dog’s body language.

Picking up on a dog’s body language will not only help you react appropriately to an uncomfortable or nervous dog, but it will also help you determine what your dog likes and dislikes.

Understanding Dog Body Language

While dogs can’t use words to talk to us, they can communicate with us using physical signals. Dogs use a variety of cues to let us know how they are feeling and what they are thinking. By paying attention to these signs, you may be able to determine a dog’s intent and emotional state.

Dogs have a variety of ways to signify what they are feeling. However, some of these signals are more noticeable than others. In order to read the signs, you need to know where to look. Dogs will use their eyes, mouth, ears, tail, hair and posture to convey their emotional state (ASPCA).


Not only are eyes the windows to the soul, but they can tell you how a dog is feeling as well. When it comes to the eyes, you should pay attention to the sclera, or white of the eye. If a dog is feeling tense, you will typically see a lot of white (ASPCA).


If a dog is relaxed, its mouth will be too. A dog that is nervous or frightened may pull its lip back at the corners or wrinkle the top of its muzzle to expose its teeth (ASPCA). In addition to this physical sign, the dog may use a verbal sign and growl.

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According to the ASPCA, “When a dog is relaxed, his ears may be slightly back or out to the sides. As a dog becomes more aroused, the ears will move forward, pointing toward a subject of interest. When their ears are most forward their foreheads often wrinkle” (ASPCA). It should be noted that this will be easier to detect depending on the dog’s ear type.


In order to read a dog’s tail, you should pay attention to the base and the tail movement. If a dog tucks its tail between its legs, he or she is feeling fearful. A relaxed dog will wag its tail loosely in a neutral position (ASPCA).


The biggest indicator of an upset or agitated dog is raised hackles. Raised hackles occur when the hair on a dog’s back stands up. If this happens when you are trying to pet your dog, you should stop and try to redirect his or her attention to something else (Breitner, 2017).


Is your dog stiff or relaxed? Is your dog moving away from you or leaning into you? Paying attention to your dog’s positioning will tell you whether they are uncomfortable or at ease (ASPCA).

Signs a Dog Likes Being Petted

While context is always important to understanding a dog’s body language, there are some common signs to look out for. These include:

  • Nudging his or head into your lap or hand
  • Leaning into you
  • Pawing at your hand in order to get you to pet them more
  • Relaxed posture

Signs a Dog Doesn’t Like Being Petted

Just as a dog will show you that they enjoy being petted, dogs will show you that they don’t like being petted as well. If this is the case, you should look for the following signs:

  • Moving or leaning away from you
  • Ducking his or her head away from your hand
  • Tail tucking and tense
  • Drawn back lips
  • Growling
  • Snapping
  • Trying to bite

What to do if Your Dog Doesn’t Like Being Petted

If you have a dog that doesn’t like being petted, it is important to not force petting upon your dog. Instead, you should find other ways to enjoy each other’s company such as going for walks, playing, or just sitting near one another without physical contact. Furthermore, sometimes it’s not the actual act of petting, but the type of petting a dog doesn’t like. In other words, a dog may find one form of petting preferable to another form.

Consider head petting. “Often, owners resort to petting their dog on the head to reward them for a job well-done. However, often owners do not realize that in some cases, the dog perceives the pat on the head as something aversive, versus something rewarding” (Farricelli, 2018). If your dog doesn’t like being pet on the head, try petting him or her somewhere else, such as on the side of the neck or chest (Gormly). Instead of making contact first, you should always let your dog make the first move. “To pet your dog the right way, allow him to initiate contact. Avoid reaching over or across your dog to pet him, and don’t hug or otherwise constrain him (Becker).

Having a dog that doesn’t enjoy being petted may not be what you envisioned when you decided to adopt a puppy or adult dog. However, with a little patience and the right dog training resources, your dog may learn to love getting petted. By paying attention to your dog’s reaction to petting, and picking up on any behavioral cues, you can enrich the bond you have with him or her.

  1. ASPCA. “7 Tips on Canine Body Language.” ASPCA Professional, 21 June 2017, www.aspcapro.org/resource/7-tips-canine-body-language.
  2. Becker, Karen. “If Your Dog Could Talk, He’d Say ‘Don’t Pet Me Here.’” Mercola.com, healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2016/03/07/dog-petting-tips.aspx.
  3. Breitner, Jill. “What Does It Mean When My Dog’s Hair Stands Up?” Dogster, 1 Feb. 2017, www.dogster.com/lifestyle/what-does-it-mean-when-my-dogs-hair-stands-up.
  4. Farricelli, Adri. “Signs a Dog Is Not Enjoying Petting and Is About to Bite.” PetHelpful, PetHelpful, 2018, pethelpful.com/dogs/Dog-Behavior-Signs-a-Dog-is-About-to-Bite.
  5. Gormly, Kellie. “The Best Places to Pet Your Dog.” PetMD, www.petmd.com/dog/wellness/evr_dg_the-best-places-to-pet-your-dog.

— Update: 25-02-2023 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article Does My Dog Like to be Petted? from the website www.hillspet.com for the keyword do dog like being pet.

It seems like a dog’s head and a person’s hand were meant to go together. But why do dogs like to be pet so much, and what are the best places to pet a dog? To answer these questions, it’s important to understand the signs dogs give before, during and after petting. Get ready — we’re about to explore the science behind dog petting.

Do dog like being pet

Prepping to Be Pet

Have you ever heard the saying, “Let sleeping dogs lie?” Although all dogs like a good hand massage, they should be the ones to initiate the petting. Whether they’re a new puppy, your long-time fur kid or a dog you’ve never met before, you should always look for the mutual agreement that the dog wants you to pet them. If a dog wants to be petted, they will sniff you, and then their ears, tail and other parts of their body will become relaxed. Watch for loose shoulders, a soft gaze and an open mouth. When they start to wiggle a little bit or nuzzle up against you, that’s your sign that they’re ready for a good round of petting.

You should first pet the dog on the chest, shoulder or base of the neck rather than moving your hand over the top of their head. Make the initial petting slow and a little bit like a light massage. Avoid the base of the tail, under the chin and the back of the neck. Definitely don’t grab at the dog’s face or pet their ears roughly, since most dogs do not like that type of petting. Once you get to know a dog well, you can try to pet other areas and see what they like. When you’re done petting, be sure to use a consistent response like “all done” so that your dog doesn’t keep jumping up or try to nuzzle into you and knock you over for more pets.

How Will I Know If They Really Love Me?

Do dogs like to be pet all the time once they know you? For the most part, dogs do like to use petting as a way to bond with their owner. According to Paws for People, “It’s well-known (and scientifically proven) that interaction with a gentle, friendly pet has significant benefits” for both the human and the dog. However, petting should be done in a way that pleases your dog and helps them feel calm, loved and safe. It’s important to make time to pet your dog every day and allow others to pet them in the way they like.

When you get a new puppy, it is important to get to know them and their preferences before you take them to socialize with other dogs and people. This will allow you to recommend the best way for people to approach and pet your dog to reduce their anxiety around strangers. Keep in mind that some dogs make connections with certain people more than others. While your puppy might like being pet on the belly at home with you, they may not like that when they’re out and about with new people.

Finding “The Spot”

Have you ever petted a dog and noticed their leg moving rapidly? This scratch reflex is an involuntary movement. Although it can seem funny to see your dog kicking their leg, it actually activates nerves that go to the spinal cord and may be irritating to them. Some people think rubbing this spot on a dog’s belly is what they want, but in most cases, dogs would prefer to lie next to you and get petted on the chest instead. Very similar to arm or leg spasms in humans, a massage should evoke relaxation and not involuntary, rapid movements.

So, the next time you see a dog, remember to let them initiate the contact, start by petting their chest and shoulder areas and let them take the lead on how much and how often they want to be petted.

— Update: 27-02-2023 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article 11 Things Humans Do That Dogs Hate from the website www.treehugger.com for the keyword do dog like being pet.

Dogs try to be our best friends, but we don't always make it easy for them. Every now and then, we all do things dogs hate. Here are some of the common human actions that push dogs away by making them upset, nervous, stressed, or confused.

1. Using Words More Than Body Language

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

Dogs might be able to deduce the meaning of a few key words (e.g., walk, treat, toy, off), but they can't understand human language. What they rely on to figure out what we mean is our body language. Unfortunately, we can easily send mixed signals if we're only paying attention to what our mouths are saying and not what our bodies are saying.

If you go to any beginner dog training class, you’ll often see people saying one thing but doing another, and a confused dog trying to discern what is being asked of them. For instance, telling a dog to “stay” while leaning forward toward the dog and holding out a hand like a traffic cop is, in body language, actually inviting the dog to come toward you. But when the dog does, she gets reprimanded for breaking her stay command, which is confusing.

A great experiment is to spend a whole day not saying a word to your dog, but communicating only with your body. You'll see just how much you “talk” with your body without realizing it and learn how to use your movements and body positions to get the response you need from your dog.

2. Hugging Your Dog

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

While you might love wrapping your arms around a furry canine friend, most dogs hate hugs. Rather than the camaraderie and support this action communicates among primates, it is considered an act of dominance if a dog places a foreleg or paw on the back of another dog.

Many dogs will tolerate it with grace, but some dogs will feel threatened, fearful, or angry. And keep in mind that the same dog that enjoys one person's hug might react entirely differently with another family member who tries the same thing.

If you're wondering if your dog hates your hugs, pay attention to her body language when you go in for a cuddle. Does she tense up? Lean her head away from you? Avoid eye contact? Lick her lips? Keep her mouth closed? Pull her ears back against her head? All of these are signs that a dog is uncomfortable. So next time you want to go in for a hug, use these signals to learn whether or not the dog is OK with it.

3. Petting a Dog’s Face or Patting Her Head

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

If someone were to reach their hand toward your face, your reaction would likely be to pull your head back and lean away, and then get a little tense about the invasion of personal space. Yet most humans think that dogs like being patted on the head.

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The reality is that while many dogs will put up with this if it's being done by someone they know and trust, most dogs don't enjoy it. You may notice that even the loving family dog might lean away slightly when you reach for her face to pet her. It's a personal space issue for dogs just as much as it is for us.

Interact with your dog by gently petting her back or rear, but don't pat, and definitely don't go for the dog's face. If you really want to reward your dog, give them a rub on their rear end right by the tail; that's their favorite place to get petted. A belly rub, a little ear massage, and a scratch on the underside of the chin, front of the neck, or sides of the thighs are sure to make your dog happy.

Petting releases the feel-good hormone oxytocin in both dogs and humans, so be sure to do it—just do it in the right places, with the right approach. It is also a form of bonding and it reassures the dog that you are his or her beloved owner.

4. Walking Up to a Strange Dog While Looking Her in the Eye

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

While we humans view steady eye contact as an important sign of trustworthiness or focus, it is part of establishing dominance for many species, including dogs.

When you look a strange dog right in the eye, unblinking, you might be smiling and trying to warm up to them. However, the dog is probably reading it as an act of dominance or even aggression. They might display a submissive response—looking away, doing a little wiggle for pets, rolling over onto their backs—or they might start backing up and barking. Either way, for most dogs, a stranger looking it right in the eye while approaching is not a comfortable situation.

If you want to say hello to a new dog in a way that is comfortable for both of you, approach with your body angled slightly (not with your shoulders squared toward the dog), your eyes slightly averted, and speak quietly with a gentle voice. All these body language cues of friendship will help a dog understand you mean no harm. The dog might still want nothing to do with you, but at least you didn't approach in a scary way that could cause a defensive or aggressive reaction.

5. Not Providing Structure and Rules

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

You might think having strict rules makes life boring or unhappy for your dog, but dogs really want to know what's right and wrong according to their leader. This comes in the form of rules. It's similar to how children thrive when they have structure and boundaries. Rules make life a lot more predictable, a lot less confusing, and a lot less stressful.

When establishing those boundaries, it's important to be consistent; dogs don't understand exceptions to rules. They don't understand that they're allowed to jump on you when you have leisure clothes on but not when you have work clothes on. They don't understand that they're allowed on the couch after a bath but not after coming in from a romp in the mud.

Additionally, saying “no” for breaking a rule but not actually doing something to help the dog stop the behavior and learn the rule is not effective enforcement. Dogs thrive when they know where the boundaries are, and when you spend time enforcing consistent boundaries with positive rewards, you also are building up their trust in you as a leader.

6. Forcing Your Dog to Interact With Dogs or People She Clearly Doesn’t Like

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

Like other social species, dogs have their favorite friends and their enemies, it’s easy to tell what other dogs (and people) a dog wants to hang out with and those with whom she’d rather not associate. Yet, many dog owners ignore this or simply fail to read the cues their dog is giving them. It is common for enthusiastic owners to push their dogs into social situations at dog parks or allow strangers to give them pets despite the dog clear signs of wanting to be left alone.

True, there is value in encouraging shy, fearful, and reactive dogs out of their comfort zones so that they can develop necessary social skills, However, knowing the difference between gentle boundary-pushing and forcing an interaction is vital to your dog's safety and sanity.

When dogs are pushed too far in social situations, they're more likely to lash out; after giving multiple cues, their last resort for sending a clear message is to use their teeth. What's worse is that their trust in you as a protective leader is weakened, and they have an even more negative association with a park, a certain dog or person, or a general social setting. So take care to read the body language she gives you when she doesn't want to be around certain other individuals, and don't force it.

7. Going for Walks Without Giving an Opportunity to Explore and Smell

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

It's important to allow a dog to have some time to explore her surroundings while walking. Dogs see with their noses, and they place as much importance on their sense of smell for interpreting the world as we humans place on our sense of vision. Too often, we deprive them of that experience by treating walks only as rushed, required potty breaks and exercise, trudging along the same old route without any variety or sense of leisure.

Dedicate one of your daily walks to having a “smell walk”—going slow and letting your dog take in the world with her nose. Go somewhere entirely new, explore a different neighborhood or trail, let your dog sniff at a spot until she gets her fill before moving forward, even if it's for minutes at a time.

To help your dog know the difference between a walk where she should obediently stay beside you and a walk where she is free to explore, dedicate a special backpack or harness for smell walks; make sure it is clearly different from your usual collar and leash setup so the different purpose of the walk is obvious to your dog. These walks are a wonderful opportunity for your dog to get some of the mental and sensory stimulation that keeps life interesting for her.

8. Keeping a Tight Leash, Literally

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

Just as dogs are amazing at reading our body language, they're amazing at reading our tension levels through the leash. By keeping a slack leash, you're letting your dog know that there's no reason to be worried or tense—that you are calm and in control so your dog is free to be calm as well.

On the other hand, keeping a tight leash sends a message to your dog that you're tense, nervous, and on alert, and your dog responds in kind; their levels of stress, frustration, and excitement rise. Plus, it doesn't feel good for your dog to constantly be pulled and thus cued to be on alert, and they're also well aware that they can't get away from you even if they think they need to.

This is why it is so important to teach a dog how to walk on a slack leash. It is a difficult skill to master, and something the majority of dog owners can commiserate about, but it's essential to having pleasant walks with a relaxed dog.

9. Being Tense

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

Tension on the leash isn't the only way a dog can pick up how you're feeling. You can tell when a person you're around is feeling tense, even if you don't realize it. Dogs have the same ability. The more stressed and wound-up you are, the more stressed and wound-up your dog is. And dogs, just like us, don't like stress.

You might roll your eyes, but the next time your dog is acting frustrated and tense, check in with yourself—have you been feeling that way for the last few minutes, for the last few hours, or the last few days? Your dog might just be acting as your mirror. If you need a reason to meditate, helping your dog calm down is a great one.

10. Being Boring

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

Just like children can be bored while running errands with their parents, dogs abhor when their owners are boring. You may be busy with obligations or simply tired, but remember that your dog waits all day for you to come play with them. If your dog is making trouble—getting into boxes or closets, eating shoes or chewing on table legs—she's basically showing you just how incredibly bored she is.

Luckily, there is a quick and easy solution to this: training games. Teaching your dog a new trick, working on old tricks, playing a game of “find it” with a favorite toy, or going out and using a walk as a chance to work on urban agility are all ways to stimulate both your dog’s mind and body. An hour of training is worth a couple of hours playing a repetitive game of fetch in terms of wearing a dog out. While of course exercise and walks are important, adding in some brain work will make your dog happy-tired. Even just 15-30 minutes of trick training a day will make a big difference.

11. Teasing

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

Many people think it's funny to tease dogs: barking at one as you pass it on the street, waving or talking to one that is barking at them from behind a window, pulling on a dog's tail. The list can go on, but the important thing is that you shouldn't do something you know makes a dog mad for the sake of a laugh; the dog won't find it funny. And, it can lead to some serious behavioral problems.

— Update: 27-02-2023 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article Where Do Dogs Like To Be Pet? from the website petcube.com for the keyword do dog like being pet.

Shared affection between humans and dogs is such a beautiful thing, don’t you agree? Petting just feels so natural for humans and dogs that have formed a bond, regardless of species. In this scenario, dog lovers know too well how openly dogs are able to express their satisfaction when they are being petted the right way and in the right spots.

Likewise, the affection brought about by petting our dogs brings us much joy. In fact, serotonin and dopamine levels have been found to increase in human-animal bonds.

Smiling, lying down for belly rubs, and looking so relaxed with their eyes closed are some of the obvious signs that our dog loves being petted. But what makes it so appealing for them? Why do dogs like to be pet? Also, where do dogs like to be petted or scratched?

Why Do Dogs Like to be Pet?

Petting a dog is a great way to relieve stress and anxiety, whether of your own or that of your furry friend. When you pet a dog, their chemical reactions can be soothing to you and to your dog. For example, when you pet a dog, you’re stimulating their parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for “rest and digest” functions like blood pressure and heart rate.

Read more  Why Do Dogs Like to Be Pet?

It also helps their body relax. Petting a dog can also help to relieve anxiety in dogs by reducing their cortisol levels. Cortisol is the stress hormone, and it’s linked to all sorts of adverse health effects. If you’re wondering how to reduce your dog’s stress levels, consider petting them more often, as it’s a low-cost and low-effort way to provide comfort and support.

Where Do Dogs Like To Be Scratched?

On several occasions, you might have noticed rapid leg kicking when you scratch or pet your dog and wondered: Why do dogs kick their legs when you scratch them? This kind of scratch reflex in dogs is involuntary. So you might ask: Is dog scratch reflex bad?

The answer depends on the situation. Think of it this way: in general, when we, humans, get a massage, our body doesn’t respond in rapid and involuntary movements (like when someone tickles us too much), rather, our body feels relaxed and at ease. It might be entertaining to see your dog showing the scratch reflex.

However, this may be actually triggering your dog’s nerves that lead to their spinal cord, causing them irritation. Yes, many of us might have had the notion that belly rubs that trigger the scratch reflex always mean that they’re begging for more, but this isn’t always the case and may actually indicate medical issues. Also, some dogs might prefer that you pet them on the chest rather than the belly.

On the contrary, however, many dogs like belly rubs. This becomes quite obvious when they start lying down with their bellies exposed, begging us to scratch them. It’s quite common for the scratch reflex to manifest in some way during this time.

If your dog doesn’t show signs of distress and shows that they feel good while you do it, it’s likely that it’s just part of them enjoying the way your rub their bellies. If you’re unsure, observing your dog’s body language really helps in determining how your dog likes to be scratched.

However, if your dog seems to be stressed, it’s best to consult with a veterinarian to determine what is causing their reaction.

Where To Pet A Dog To Make Them Happy?

● Chest

For dogs that have already developed trust towards their owners, the chest (particularly, the section in the middle of their front legs) is a good spot that many dogs like for a good old scratch. This is best done when you wrap your arms around your dog’s body while petting or scratching their chest area.

However, you should note that since this form of petting involves intimacy and your dog’s sensitive areas being exposed, it is only recommended if you’ve already gained their trust.

● Belly

If you’ve done belly rubs on your dog or if you’ve seen other pet owners do it on their furry friend, you have probably witnessed how happy dogs can get whenever they get their share. But what makes belly rubs so good that some dogs literally beg for it?

If your dog has formed a deep connection with you and fully trusts you, they may go towards you and lie down next to you with their bellies exposed. This is an invitation for you to pet, rub, or lightly scratch their bellies.

● Ears

Do dogs like their ears rubbed? Of course! If you want to develop trust with a new dog, rubbing their ears is a good spot, specifically, the part with the most cartilage is located. Stroking this area gently and lovingly, including the jaw and neck, will contribute to relieving anxieties or worries your dog may have.

● Below the Chin

If trust is already built, the area under the chin is a spot that many dogs also enjoy. This is best done when your dog is relaxed. For best results, you can gently stroke their chin and then down towards their neck area.

● Around the Hips and Butt

This is another spot that many dogs love to be petted which can trigger the scratch reflex due to excitement. In particular, many dogs like the area near the base of their tail.

How To Pet A Dog

While dogs in general like to be pet, each dog is unique and so they may have individual preferences. With this, it is essential to know how to pet your dog the right way in order to establish a good foundation for showing affection towards each other. Below are some tips to strengthen your bond with your canine companion through petting:

  1. Wait for your dog to approach you
    Go slow at first. If your dog doesn’t show signs that they want to be petted, be patient with them and wait it out. When your dog starts signaling that they want to be petted, slowly motion your relaxed hand with palms facing down a couple of inches below your dog’s head. When they begin to sniff or lick your hand, gently start to pet them.

  2. Avoid heading over your dog at first
    When you’re standing up as you move your hands towards their heads, this may come off as intimidating. New to you dogs may react either in fear or aggression when they feel intimidated. So for them not to feel this way, it is best for you to kneel or sit so that your eyes are at the same level.

This act would help them feel that you’re not a threat to them. Upon signaling that they want to be petted, start slowly at the side of their face or below their chin. Once they’ve become accustomed to it, you can move towards their chest, shoulders, and sides.


A dog’s body language is a good indication of how to pet a dog. For example, if dog’s ears are up and their tail is downward and relaxed, it is likely that they can be approached. For dogs who already trust their owners, knowing the right places and spots where to pet them will help strengthen the bond and make both of you happy.

— Update: 17-03-2023 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article Why Do Dogs Like to Be Pet? from the website forevervets.com for the keyword do dog like being pet.

Petting dogs is so commonplace that many dog-lovers may have never questioned where this habit came from—or whether dogs even like being pet. But while many other animals—including humans—don’t like to be touched by other individuals or species, dogs are unique in their desire for physical contact and displays of affection.

But that physical contact does come with some important rules to follow—especially when interacting with new or unfamiliar dogs. Read on for answers to common questions about petting dogs, as well as tips on how to pet a dog properly.

Do dog like being pet

Why Do Dogs Like to be Pet?

Dogs are social creatures, and they’re particularly bonded with their human companions. Many dogs experience petting as a form of affection from humans, which makes these interactions not only pleasant, but even supportive of your dog’s mental health. In fact, research shows that dog brains release the love hormone Oxytocin when they’re petted and given attention from a human.

For what it’s worth, the reverse is also true: Petting a dog can release Oxytocin in humans.

Where Do Dogs Like to be Scratched?

While every dog is different, and some dogs may not want to be petted in certain situations, or by certain people, dogs generally enjoy being scratched on their chest, neck, and shoulders. Dogs may also enjoy scratches around their ears or along their back, and if a dog rolls onto its back to show its belly, it might be asking you to scratch its stomach.

If you’re unfamiliar with a dog, it’s best to start scratching in the more generally preferred locations of the chest, neck, and shoulders. As you become comfortable and familiar with a dog, you can expand your scratching to other parts of their body, especially if they show preferences for a certain location.

Why Do Dogs Like Their Ears Rubbed?

A dog’s ears are rich with nerve-endings, which makes the ears an easy location to scratch or rub and trigger the release of Oxytocin and other pleasing hormones. However, because a dog’s ears are so dense with nerves, they can be sensitive to being touched in this location and may be nervous that someone might hurt them.

For this reason, always approach ear-rubbing carefully, moving slowly and paying attention to the dog’s behavioral cues. If the dog seems nervous, it’s best to back off.

Why Do Dogs Shake Their Leg When You Scratch Them?

Dog-lovers can’t help but enjoy the sight of a dog shaking or kicking their leg while being scratched. But if you’ve ever wondered why dogs do this, the answer is simple: The shaking leg is an involuntary reaction, just like when your leg or arm jumps when getting hit in the knee or elbow.

When you scratch in the right spot, you hit a nerve that then sends a message to the dog’s leg to kick. And while we may all love to watch that leg kick, the reflex can startle a dog that doesn’t understand why it can’t control its body.

Do Dogs Like Being Pet on the Head?

Most dogs don’t want you touching their head—at least not the top of it. This is usually because dogs feel vulnerable in that spot, and if they don’t trust you, they may be worried that you will hurt them by touching their head.

Unless you’re familiar with a dog and know they’re comfortable with you touching the top of their head, it’s better to pet other parts of their body where they’ll feel more at ease.

Do Dogs Like Being Pet While Sleeping?

While some dogs may not appear unhappy to be pet while they’re sleeping, dogs are just like humans when it comes to having their sleep interrupted. In other words, they typically don’t like it. And, if you catch some dogs off-guard, they may be scared and become aggressive in response to what they might perceive as a threat.

Again, you may be able to pet a sleeping dog—and even offer it comfort—if you’re familiar with that dog. In most cases, though, let sleeping dogs lie—and avoid situations where you sneak up on them.

Where to Pet a Dog to Calm Them

If your dog is anxious, stressed, or upset for any other reason, petting may be an effective strategy to calm them down and alleviate the intensity of whatever they’re feeling. Take a conservative approach to petting any upset dog and stick to the zones of the dog’s body where they are most receptive to being pet. For most dogs, this includes the chest, shoulders, and neck.

Be aware that petting a dog may not be enough to completely calm them, depending on how upset they are. While petting might be a great preliminary soothing option, you should also seek to remove the source of your dog’s stress, if possible. This may mean moving to a different location, turning on white noise, or finding other ways to create separation and distraction.

When you pay attention to the dog’s behavior and take a careful approach to interacting with new or unfamiliar dogs, petting can be a great way to forge and deepen a connection with man’s best friend. Respect each dog’s boundaries and both you and the dog will be better off for it.


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About the Author: Tung Chi