a girl petting a dog

How to pet a dog

It is rightly said that “Dogs can be man’s best friend”. However they might not always act in that manner. Just like humans, every dog has a different nature. So you really can’t predict them to behave a certain way. That’s why some precautions are meant to be followed while meeting dogs. It is important to always watch out for their body language and symptoms of aggression. Back off if the dog shows signs of aggression or discomfort. Signs of aggression include barking, a straight up tail, or growling. Signs of discomfort, worry, or tension include lip licking, avoiding eye contact, not wagging their tail, or pulling the ears back. Avoid staring in a dog’s eyes, mostly it gives them an impression that you want to fight or harm them. Lastly, if a dog doesn’t calm down or show some affection towards you within thirty seconds to one minute, drop the idea of petting or even going near it.

Right way of Petting a Dog

Now let’s talk about the right way of petting a dog in case they show good gestures towards you. Encourage the dog to take the first step by taking your time to bend down closer to their level. However, don’t bend immediately, as they may get threatened. Sometimes, you may assist a dog to loosen up by introducing yourself. Just like humans introduce themselves to each other by shaking hands, dogs usually introduce themselves to each other through sniffing. So dog trainers usually suggest a mix of both; try to slowly move your hand towards a dog and if it sniffs the hand, it will eventually calm down. But it is advised to do it, only if the dog’s owner is somewhere near.

Petting an already known Dog

It could be your friend’s dog or your neighbor’s dog who is familiar with your presence around him. It is always better to ask the dog’s parent what its likes and dislikes are. Or you can also discover which sorts of petting it enjoys most. Some dogs like belly rubs, while others like their legs massaged.  Some might growl in case you get near these regions which means they are not liking it. Pay interest to the dog’s body language and focus on areas it enjoys maximum. A wagging tail, relaxed muscular tissues, and whining while you stop or move away are signs that the dog is enjoying petting. 

Petting an Unknown Dog

Unfamiliar dogs can be a little risky to deal with. First check out all the signs of discomfort, we have listed above. If you don’t find any signs of aggression or tension, then gently approach the dogs from the side. Start rubbing/scratching the base of his ears. Don’t touch the above part of his face at the start. If he doesn’t mind you rubbing the area around his ears, slowly move to other parts of his body. Don’t rush and be gentle while rubbing the back, legs and especially the neck area.

Lastly, it’s important to keep an eye on the dog’s body language. Be gentle while rubbing and don’t rush or make sudden moves. Your presence around any dog should be as non-threatening as possible. And you will surely end up being friends with the dog.

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