If you have ever wondered why your dog likes to be petted and scratched so much, you are not alone. While giving a dog a good pet is one of the most enjoyable things about pet ownership, there is actually more to it than you would think. To help you get to the bottom of this question and learn more about bonding with your furry friend, we have written this complete guide to petting and bonding with your canine companion!
Table of Contents
- So, Why Do Dogs Like to Be Pet?
- Does Petting Your Dog Offer the Dog Any Benefits?
- Where Do Dogs Like to Be Pet?
- What Are Some Other Ways You Can Bond with Your Pup?
So, Why Do Dogs Like to Be Pet?
As you likely know, dogs are extremely social animals. Through thousands of years of conditioning and selective breeding, humans and dogs have formed a unique bond.
Not only do dogs find physical contact with humans soothing, but it can also help support the dog’s mental health. Studies have shown that a dog’s brain will release the hormones oxytocin and serotonin when they are petted by their owners and given other forms of attention and physical contact from their owners and other humans.
As a bonus, stroking and petting a dog can help us feel calm and relaxed, too!
Does Petting Your Dog Offer the Dog Any Benefits?
Aside from helping the dog relax, petting your dog can offer a wide range of benefits for your pooch.
For starters, the sensation of having a human’s hands run through their fur has been shown to help lower a dog’s blood pressure, which can greatly reduce feelings of anxiety in a stressful situation. In other words, it can be a truly comforting experience for your pooch to have you run your hands through the fur.
As a secondary benefit, petting your dog daily can also help you locate any skin irritations, injuries, tick bites, and much more. Not only will petting your dog help your canine companion feel less anxious, but it can also act as an opportunity for you to inspect your dog’s body, which can be of critical importance as the dog ages.
Dogs can display pain in unusual ways, so inspecting your dog’s body can be a great way for you to locate sensitivities. If your dog yelps or recoils when you pet a specific area of their body, it can help you discover some form of injury or illness. From there, you can take your dog to a veterinarian for inspection.
For more information, PURINA has published a useful article that explains Why do Dogs Like Being Pet?
Where Do Dogs Like to Be Pet?
While each dog will have slightly different preferences, there are certain areas that most dogs like to be pet and scratched.
For the most part, dogs enjoy being petted and scratched on their chests, neck, the tops of their heads, and between their shoulder blades. You may also notice that your pooch likes a good scratch above the tail or a belly rub. Usually, they enjoy being pet and scratched where they cannot scratch and nibble themselves.
While you will quickly learn the body parts your dog likes to be pet and scratched, it can be a good idea to stick to the above-mentioned areas if you are looking to pet an unfamiliar dog. As you become more comfortable with the dog, you can expand your petting to other areas of the body. They will quickly let you know what they like with tail wags, movements of their back legs, and even raising their head and rolling their eyes.
What Are Some Other Ways You Can Bond with Your Pup?
In addition to frequent petting sessions, you can also bond with your dog in the following ways:
Scratch Your Dog
You can also help bond with your pup by scratching their body, especially in difficult-to-reach areas. Just like a good pet, a lengthy scratch can help your dog relax and feel more connected to you.
Try Rubbing the Dog’s Ears
Dogs also really enjoy having their ears rubbed. The ears have sensitive nerve endings, so rubbing and massaging them can also help release oxytocin and other hormones that can help your pooch relax. Just make sure that you do not pinch the ears or use too much pressure, as it can be somewhat painful for your dog. Pay attention to behavioral cues, as certain dogs may be a little bit more guarded about having their ears touched.
Let Your Dog Nap and Sleep in the Same Room as You
While some dogs prefer solitude, more social breeds will feel more connected to you if you allow them to sleep in the same room. While you can always let your dog sleep in your bed, this can be difficult if you own a larger breed. Investing in a dog bed is a good idea.
Simply placing your pet dog’s bed in your bedroom can be a great way to bond. Dogs are natural pack animals, so sleeping close to a family member they consider to be in their pack is a way they feel connected to others.
Play Games Together and Go on Plenty of Walks
Most dog breeds are active and have plenty of energy. By playing games with your pet dog and taking regular walks together, you can really form a strong bond with your pooch.
Simple games like fetch help your dog get exercise as well as mental stimulation, which can help prevent them from feeling bored and anxious. As you would expect, they are also a great way for your dog to feel more attached to you.
Taking your fur baby on lengthy walks to new locations is also an incredibly effective way to bond with them. Consider taking your pooch to some dog-friendly hiking trails or even a dog-friendly off-leash beach. These new adventures are also great for mental stimulation and exercise, but, more importantly, they are a great way for you and your pooch to connect.