Petting A Dog The Right Way

June 17, 2019

© Sergey Lavrentev | Dreamstime

Seems simple enough.  You see a dog and along with a few high-pitched words and phrases, you reach over to give it a nice pet. But think twice before you do. Even though you've likely been petting dogs your whole life, you may not be doing it the best way. A study was done on 28 dog breeds on their reactions in being touched. The dogs wore heart rate monitors and were observed when a stranger was brought into the room while their owners were present, but ignoring them. The strangers were told to pet the dog in nine different ways, including on the top of the head, the chest, shoulder, neck, base of tail and holding a paw and researchers observed their responses. When the dogs were petted on the head or paw, they showed what are known as "appeasement gestures" such as lip licking and yawning to indicate they were stressed. They also had elevated heart rates. Touching a dog's face and patting them on the top of the head can be seen as a threatening gesture and an invasion of personal space. Dogs seemed less stressed when they were stroked on the chest, shoulders, base of the neck or on the base of the tail. Avoid reaching over the top of the dog to pet him. And don't touch a strange dog's belly, which is a vulnerable area. A dog could be on his back to show he's being submissive or fearful, not because he wants his stomach scratched. Be calm and slow with your petting, rubbing in the direction that the fur grows. Don't get all rough and tumble unless you know the dog and that's the way you know he likes to play. Experts also offer some advice in making the dog feel comfortable around you. Avoid eye contact. Although a dog may stare at you, direct eye contact can make dogs feel uncomfortable and can come across as aggressive and domineering. It's something that humans tend to do all the time that dogs really hate. Instead of being the one to make first contact, squat down to the dog's level and see if the dog is interested in greeting you first. Put out your hand. If the dog sniffs it and walks away, that's a pretty clear sign it's not interested in any interaction.

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SOURCE: Mother Nature Network

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