How to pet your dog (with pictures)

Dogs may be man’s best friends, but in fact, they do not behave exactly like this. To approach an unfamiliar dog, follow the instructions below, pay attention to signs of aggressive behavior, and pet him in a non-threatening manner. The following are suggestions for petting your own dog or other dogs that are close to you, please refer to the corresponding section.

Approach the dog cautiously

How to pet your dog (with pictures)

Ask the dog’s owner if he can pet him. Maybe the dog looks friendly, but if you don’t know it, you won’t know how it will react to strangers. When it comes to petting a dog, if the dog’s owner’s advice is different from that described in this article, please follow the dog’s advice. If he allows you to pet his dog, please ask him where he likes to be petted.

When a dog has no owner, please be careful. If you see a dog walking in the street without an owner, please proceed carefully and stay where necessary to protect your own safety. Dogs that are chained or left in yards and other places with limited space are more likely to bite people, even when they eat or chew. Please be careful when approaching these dogs, and when they show any signs of aggressiveness described below, give up the idea of ​​petting them.

When the dog shows any signs of aggression or discomfort, step back immediately. Signs of aggressiveness include a low growl, loud barking, an erect tail, or body stiffness. The signs of discomfort, fear, and anxiety include licking the lips and exposing the whites of the eyes. If the dog does not calm down or approach you within thirty seconds, please stop trying to pet it.

How to pet your dog (with pictures)

Bend over or squat down and let the dog approach you. By squatting down and pulling in the height difference between you and it, it makes its first step towards getting closer to you. The more daring dogs only need you to bend down a little to lean over, but please be careful not to put the bent body directly above them, because this will make them feel threatened.

How to pet your dog (with pictures)

Coax the shy dog ​​closer. If after squatting down, the dog still can’t attract the dog’s attention, and it behaves very shy or easily frightened (such as running away or hiding), please look away, because eye contact will make it feel threatened. Please make some gentle, quiet coaxing noises; it doesn’t matter what these noises are, but be sure to avoid making sounds that are too loud or that might frighten the dog. You can turn your body to the side, which will make you seem less threatening.

Stretch out his fist. After the above steps, if the dog seems to accept your touch, or at least behaves relaxed and shows no signs of aggression or discomfort, you can put out your fist to test it. Place your fist on the outside of its nose, but don’t point it directly at its face. Let it come closer, and let it sniff the back of your hand, no matter how long it sniffs.

  •   Face an unfamiliar dog, do not spread your hand in front of it, because it may bite your fingers.
  •   When a dog sniffs you, it is not waiting for you to touch it, but evaluating you. Before it finishes sniffing, please wait patiently and don’t act rashly.
  •   If a dog licks you, don’t worry. This is a way for a dog to trust you and show you closeness, just like a human kiss.

Pay attention to whether the dog feels comfortable. If its muscles are loose (not stiff or tight), or if it makes short eye contact with you, or if it wags its tail, this may mean that it feels more comfortable getting along with you. In this case, you can proceed to the next step, but when it tries to leave, please stop petting and extend your still fist in front of it again.

How to pet your dog (with pictures)

Petting a strange dog

Stroking around the dog’s ears. After the above steps, if the dog still shows no signs of attack, you can slowly stroke or gently scratch its ears. Please approach the ears from the back of the dog’s head, not from the top of its face.

Turn to other parts to stroke. So far, if you have completed the above points and the dog has not tried to avoid you, you can continue to stroke other parts. You can let your hand across the dog’s back, or move it to the top of its head, and then gently scratch the place with your fingers.

  •   Many dogs like to be scratched on both sides of the spine at the top of their back. Compared with the parts of the dog’s back near the tail and hind legs, being scratched at the front of the neck and shoulders will not make it anxious.
  •   A docile dog might like others to touch under the chin or chest, while other dogs don’t like strangers close to their chin.

When your dog is unwell, stop petting. Please remember that some dogs have very sensitive heads and they don’t like being touched on top of their heads. Some dogs don’t like being stroked butt or touching other parts. Any low growl, drooping tail, or sudden movement of the dog should make you realize that you need to stop your current movement immediately and stay still. If it calms down again and re-closes to you, then you can switch to another area and continue to stroke.

How to pet your dog (with pictures)

Don’t make any sudden movements. Don’t grab it suddenly or vigorously, don’t pat or slap the sides of the dog’s body, and don’t change the area you touch too quickly. If you make your dog feel enjoyable when you touch a part of the dog, then you can change the stroke to lightly scratching, or from one hand to two hands. In any case, please keep your movements gentle, because you don’t know how this strange dog will react to harder strokes. Stroking quickly or hard may even make a docile dog get too excited, causing it to jump up or bite your hand violently.

Petting a dog that is familiar to you

Learn all the information that makes this dog feel comfortable. To understand a dog, first, find out how he likes to be petted. Some dogs like to be massaged on their abdomen, while others like to be massaged on their legs. When other dogs are approached by people, they will growl low. Please pay attention to the dog’s body language and focus on the parts that the dog likes to be touched most. When you stop stroking and take your hands away, the dog starts to wag its tail, relax its muscles, and whimper, which means it likes this kind of stroking. Drooling may be a sign of excitement, but it does not necessarily mean that it feels relaxed.

Please be careful when massaging the dog’s abdomen. When the dog lies down on its back, it may feel scared, or it may be just trying to comfort you, not seeking petting. Even docile dogs who like abdominal massage sometimes do this for other reasons. When your dog is upset, nervous, or unhappy, please don’t touch its abdomen.

Teach children how to get along with dogs. When around a child, a dog is often upset, even around those who grew up with it, because the child may be clumsy in the process of petting. Please make sure that every child in the house knows that you cannot hug, scratch, or kiss your dog because if these actions are too clumsy, they may make the dog feel anxious and even cause them to bite the child. Children must be taught not to pull the dog’s tail or throw things at it.

How to pet your dog (with pictures)

Give the dog a thorough massage every once in a while. You can occasionally massage your dog from head to tail for 10 or 15 minutes. First use circular motions to massage the dog’s face, under the chin, and chest. Then move your hands to the top of the neck, shoulders, and back, and then massage all the way to the tail. Some dogs will let you massage the underside of each leg.

  •   In addition to allowing the dog to enjoy a comfortable massage, this method can also help you confirm which lumps on the dog are normal and have been present, and which are new. This may be a sign that the dog has a health problem.

Massage the dog’s paw. Some dogs may not let you touch their paws, but if you can safely lift their paws, please use a gentle massage to promote blood circulation and fine sand or sharp objects that make them feel uncomfortable. If the pads on the dog’s feet appear dry and cracked, please consult the veterinarian about the appropriate moisturizer and rub it on the dog’s feet.

  •   Massage the puppies’ feet can make it easier to trim their nails in the future because they are used to being touched.

Massage the puppy’s mouth. If puppies are very close to you, they will let you massage their mouths and feet. It is very good to massage the mouth of a puppy during the period of teething, and this can also make it accustomed to the various problems that are dealt with in this area. In this way, it can also make the future work of the dentist more convenient.

  •   When massaging a puppy’s mouth, rub its cheeks and chin in circular motions. Of course, you also need to massage the gums. To massage this area, you can use a “finger toothbrush” purchased from a pet store or a veterinarian.


  •   Before feeding any dog, ask its owner if it is okay. Some dogs are allergic to gluten, and gluten is found in lower-cost foods.
  •   The best way to increase your dog’s trust is to feed it.
  •   When others are petting your dog, please pay attention to its condition. When it feels uncomfortable, please politely ask someone to change the way of touching, or ask him to stop.


  •   Never touch your dog while it is eating or chewing. Some dogs have a strong sense of protection for their bones or toys and may attack people to prevent others from taking their things away.
  •   Even a very docile dog can feel overwhelmed when more than one stranger touches it at the same time.
  •   Be careful when the dog seems to bite you! At this time, you should walk away calmly and slowly while looking at it.

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