Why Do Dogs Like to Be Pet? All the Adorable Reasons!

why do dogs like to be pet

One of the best ways to show your dog how much you love and care for them is by petting them. Petting makes many dogs feel good, and it’s an easy way for you to show love for these social animals. It’s a great way for dog lovers to connect with their pooch and creates a non-verbal understanding between them. 

But why do dogs like to be pet? Is petting healthy for your canine? Should you pet an unfamiliar dog? What if your pup doesn’t want a belly rub or stroke on the chin? Here’s some canine education on petting your furry friend.

What Is Dog Petting?

Petting your pup means showing affection through a caress, pat, touch, stroke, brush, or soothing massage. Dog petting is however a mutually relaxing and healing experience. Many (but not all) dogs like to be petted by their humans and tend to make eye contact when they need a good rub. But before you start, you should understand their body language. Typically, when dogs like to be petted, they will sniff you first, lean in, and curl up close to you.

Petting your dog’s face or body offers reassurance in stressful situations. The hormones released in the process make puppies feel secure and comfortable with you. This helps your dog cope with routines and training. It also eases symptoms of loneliness when you’re away. 

Do All Dogs Love Being Petted?

The simple answer is no! Petting may be one of the most enjoyable things for some pups, but it can be stressful for others. Certain dog breeds can react aggressively if they are not fond of human relationships or if they are still under training with pet owners. Luckily, for a friendly dog and pups that love a belly rub, there are several ways to enhance the experience.

A dislike for petting may be due to a history of abuse, personal preference, fear, or anxiety. Age and breed also play an important role. Some breeds are more independent and hostile than others. Most dogs with a dominant personality may be averse to petting.

Petting dog

Is Petting Healthy For You And Your Pooch?

Absolutely yes! Luckily, science has data to back this on. Studies have shown that petting a dog helps pet owners lower blood pressure and relax muscles. Scientists from Washington State University found that even 10 minutes of petting a dog could help humans significantly lower cortisol, a stress hormone.

Lowered Stress And Anxiety

Petting doesn’t just show your commitment to this human-dog relationship, but it’s also good for your dog’s mental health. Research substantially supports the fact that a confirmation of the owner keeps dogs in a good mood. A study published in 2015, in the journal “Behavioural Processes” informs that dogs associate their owner’s unique smell with joy. And petting your pup releases bursts of dopamine. Just like playing with cute toys, petting your pup is good for both of you!

So keep up the good work pet parent! And they will reward you with positive behavior, cute smiles, heavy licks, and a tail that never stops wagging.

Calmness And Satisfaction

One of the most obvious benefits of petting is its ability to help many dogs relax. Most mammals have skin-sensitive nerve cells, and petting your canine releases endorphins, boosts Oxytocin levels, and stimulates hair follicles. Your furball will find this exercise satisfying. Pet parents can notice how this physical contact calms puppies, boosts immunity, and increases longevity for their pup.

What If Your Dog Doesn’t Like Petting Or Belly Rubs?

Your pup may not like being petted due to an emotional or physical problem, a previous trauma, or a dislike of being touched. A veterinarian can check your dog for a physical injury or agitation.

There’s no reason to be alarmed if some dogs don’t like being pet. Sometimes, it’s better to give your dog some time to relax and unwind. Otherwise, it may bite or strike you if it’s anxious. Nevertheless, even if your dog disapproves of petting, you can show your love and affection through play. And treats may encourage them to come near you.

You could consider some treatment options if your pup has stopped enjoying the process and become less interested. Counter-conditioning or CCD is a treatment that reprograms the message your dog receives when touched. However, seeking expert veterinary advice should always be your priority.

Dachshund being stroked

So Why Do Dogs Like To Be Pet?

Perhaps, the best reply to that is, “because it feels incredible”! But here are a few solid reasons why dogs love to be pet.

Petting Makes Dogs Feel Good

Dogs like being petted because it triggers the release of oxytocin, the brain chemical that makes them happy. It also helps in relaxing their muscles. Petting triggers the release of endorphins and dopamine.

Petting Helps Dogs Feel Safe

Petting creates a strong bond between humans and canines. Their emotional link is deep, and petting sends them a message that you take care of them. Some dogs may feel sad if their owner doesn’t pet them.

Positive Reinforcement

Petting helps dogs in understanding their owner’s cues. When a dog is well-behaved, stable, and calm, you can start scratching or stroking them to reinforce this good behavior. 

Tactile Communication

Puppies first learn to communicate with their mom and dad through touch. This is known as tactile communication. Common forms include nipping, pawing, and nosing another dog’s head, ears, or paws. These are ways that dogs express themselves. Over time, dogs also learned to communicate with humans in a similar manner. 

How To Get The Most Out Of Petting?

Look For A Response 

If petting triggers a negative reaction, it’s your sign to stop. It’s also crucial to make contact as slowly as possible at the start. Generally, dogs respond best to petting on their sides. If all goes well, you can continue with what your dog likes such as long strokes, scratches, and rubs.

Overstimulation may cause your happy canine to get the zoomies. So keep the petting session short and sweet so that your puppy doesn’t slip, fall, or bruise itself. Some dogs also become fearful and aggressive if you pet them during sleep. 

Gauge Intensity and Pressure

Petting your canine doesn’t mean that you should touch them too lightly or too hard. Slowly gauge the best intensity and pressure. Avoid pinching your dog and try to let them initiate petting.

Find The Sweetest Spot

Different dogs may have a specific spot they prefer to be petted. Some dogs enjoy being petted on their chest, shoulders, or under their collar. Others may not remain calm but feel offended if petted on the head or muzzle. 

Maintain a Healthy Balance Between Treats & Petting

To avoid spoiling, give your pooch a gentle stroke after they show good behavior. Studies show that a dog responds to stroking more than verbal praise. And some dogs trade petting for treats. So it’s essential to maintain a healthy balance between the two. After all, your pup is most well behaved when they are well-trained. It’s worth thinking about giving them healthier treats such as cucumber or raspberries.

Having a petting schedule is another good idea. It gives promising results when you welcome a new dog or get busy with other family members.

woman stroking dog

Conclusion: Why Do Dogs Like To Be Pet?

Petting is a valuable and soothing experience for your canine. It is healthy and cardinal to their social behavior. There are several reasons why dogs like to be petted. It makes them feel good, safe and loved. Petting also gives dogs the reassurance they need to develop a stronger trusting relationship with their owners. The positive sensations from petting are a result of stimulation from the release of “feel good” hormones.

While petting has plenty of benefits, not all dogs enjoy being petted. It’s important to avoid petting unfamiliar dogs without their owner’s permission. Naturally, it’s good to be considerate and cautious about your pup’s response to petting. Some dogs will regularly hug and cuddle with their pet parents to feel that soothing touch. And other dogs might only prefer an occasional pat on the head. But those who love being petted will usually let you know right away!

Want to understand more doggie behavior? Check out why dogs sigh!