Do dogs want to be petted? Their answer will surprise you!


Did you ask yourself. Do dogs want to be petted?

Unfortunately, the answer to this question is, NO.

Not all the time, to be exact. Because not all dogs want to be petted.

Many videos you see on the Internet show dogs seemingly enjoying the things that their owners do. However, we all know that not everything that you watch on the web is true. Right?

There are moments when pet owners try to pet their dogs, and these furballs do not appreciate what is being done to them. This only shows that communication disconnection is actually one of the main problems of pet owners.

Humans, as we are, cannot communicate with our pets directly, (of course, they can’t talk, right?). So, sometimes we assume that most of the things we do are actually good for them. So how do we know if they like what we do?

The answer to this question is: learn the dog language. Learn to understand the signs dogs give before, during, and after petting.

Get ready — we are about to explore the science behind dog petting.

The Before Petting Signs

Have you 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 it’s 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 him.

If a dog wants to be petted, he will sniff you. Then his ears and other parts of his body become relaxed. When the dog starts to wiggle a little bit or nuzzle up against you, that is your cue that he’s ready for a good round of petting.

Now, how should I do the petting?

If you think that petting is just the same as rubbing your dog, then you’re definitely wrong. There are simple guidelines that will help you do the petting more fun and accurate.

First pet the dog on the chest, shoulder, or base of the neck. But, do not move your hand over the top of the dog’s head. Always remember to make the initial petting slow and a little bit like a light massage.

While you’re at it, do not touch the base of the tail, under the chin and the back of the neck, yet. Definitely don’t grab the dog’s face and pet both ears roughly. 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 he likes.

What to do when it’s done?

When you’re done petting, give your dog a cue that you’re done. Make sure to use a consistent cue like “all done”. When your dog hears you say the cue, he is informed that you are actually done with the petting session and must move on with the day.

This will also help you to train your dog that petting will not last for a whole day. And it has a specific duration too. Above all, it will prevent incidents where your dog keeps jumping up or try to nuzzle into you and knock you over for more petting.

Now, do you think you’re ready to make meeting more fun and accurate?

We have compiled some extra useful tips to help you identify if your dog want to be petted or not.

Here is a list of body language indicators that give you tips if your dog is “yeay” or “nay” for petting. Of course, all of them vary with individual dogs, and context is very important. These are generally accepted observations but not set in stone.


  • Move into your space
  • Put their head or body under your hand
  • Pull your hand toward them with their paw
  • Face muscles are relaxed
  • Droopy eyes
  • Flop their body down like a rag doll
  • Flop their body onto you


  • Duck their heads when you reach for them
  • Move away
  • Look away
  • Leave the area
  • They yawn
  • Scratch themselves
  • Lick their lips
  • Lift a paw
  • Show “whale eye”

And of course some more obvious signs such as growling and snapping.

Now you know the basics of dog petting, you are now equipped to make sure that your petting session is more fun and accurate.

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

If you have more tips about petting, let us know and share it with us in the comments below. 😉

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