Why Do Dogs Like to Be Petted?

pure love girl and dog 1

There is no question that dogs love being petted, but there are actually a number of reasons for this. 

It might surprise you to learn about some of the explanations behind your dog’s positive and sometimes humorous reactions to being petted. The more you understand about your pet, the easier it is to care for them.

Common Reasons Dogs Like to Be Petted

Some dogs enjoy being petted more than others, but all of these animals enjoy receiving physical affection from their owners.

1. It Feels Good On a Physical Level

Being petted feels good for dogs on a purely physical level. It provides them with a pleasurable sensation that they don’t get from anything else. There are probably certain areas of your dog that feel better than others to have petted. For example, a lot of dogs really love being pet behind their ears.

2. They Enjoy the Affection

While dogs are happy to give their unconditional love, they still enjoy being petted, as it is a sign of affection. These animals understand what this means, and they typically can’t get enough of it. Petting your dog basically lets it know that you care for and accept it.

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3. It’s Good for Their Health

Dogs may not understand that being petted is good for their health on a conscious level, but that doesn’t change the facts. Petting your dog can lower its blood pressure significantly, which makes it feel more at ease than usual. It also slows down their heart rate a little bit, producing a calm sensation that relaxes them.

Petting can actually be very helpful for dogs that have problems with anxiety. If your dog has these issues, petting it in the right spots can do wonders for their condition. This is just one of the many things that you can try before jumping to medication.

owner and a beagle

Tips for Petting Dogs

There are a number of tips that you’ll want to keep in mind before petting any dogs that aren’t yours. This will help you avoid a variety of issues.

1. Ask the Owner

It is important that you ask the dog’s owner before petting it. This is a basic sign of respect, and it will allow you to find out if the animal is receptive to petting. The fact is that some dogs are more aggressive than others. Regardless of the reason, you shouldn’t pet the dog if the owner tells you not to.

2. Move Slowly and Deliberately

You’ll also want to make a point of using slow and deliberate movements when petting a strange dog for the first time. This will drastically reduce the chances of getting bitten or scaring the dog, which can be a problem for numerous reasons.

Before you actually start petting the dog, you should make a point of letting it sniff your hand. If they don’t recoil after doing this, you can slowly move in to pet them. This is the best way to ensure positive interaction between you and the dog.

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3. Stay Away From the Dog’s Face

If you are petting a dog that you don’t know well, you should avoid touching its face. This too will reduce the chances of getting bitten or aggravating the dog. While it might be tempting, this is simply not a good idea. A lot of dogs actually get pretty annoyed by having their faces touched.

4. Stop Petting Them If They Seem Agitated

Another good tip that you can use for pretty much any dog, including your own, is to watch out for agitated behavior. If your dog starts pulling away from you, growling or exhibiting any other signs of irritation, you should stop petting them. This is your dog’s way of telling you to stop, and you should respect that. If you choose to continue doing it despite these warning signs, you could get bit or nip at.

girl loves her dog

Where Do Dogs Enjoy Being Pet?

As we mentioned above, there are certain areas of a dog’s body that they enjoy having petted more than others. It is important that you get this information so you can make your dog as happy as possible.

1. The Chest

A lot of people instinctually start petting a dog in the upper chest area. This is something that a vast majority of dogs enjoy. 

2. Belly

What dog doesn’t absolutely love belly rubs? Pretty much any breed is sure to enjoy being petted in this area. In fact, a lot of dogs will start kicking their foot when you rub their belly. The faster your hand goes back and forth, the faster their leg moves. This is a sign that the dog is really enjoying it.

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3. Under Their Chin

You should also try petting your dog under its chin. This seems to be yet another area that dogs love to have been petted. It helps relax them in a big way.

4. Behind the Ears

Dogs also usually enjoy being petted or scratched right behind the ears. You might notice your dog closes its eyes and even “smile” as you are doing this. They seem to find it more satisfying than just about anything else.


  • Pretty much all dogs love being petted because it feels good on a purely physical level.
  • Your dog understands at least on some level that your petting it means that you care, which feels good for them.
  • Petting a dog is actually good for its physical health, as it can help with lowering blood pressure and keeping them calm.
  • If your dog struggles with anxiety, petting it can serve as an effective way of making it more relaxed.
  • You should always make a point of asking the owner of a dog before petting it.
  • Start off slowly and let a strange dog sniff your hand before going into pet it.
  • If the dog seems agitated while you are petting it, you’ll want to stop right away.
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