To most people, especially dog lovers, our pet dogs are fascinating creatures.
One of the best things about sharing your home with a dog is watching them do funny things and wondering why they behave that way.
In this post, we will answer the question – why do dogs like pets so much?
Then we will share some tips if your dog doesn’t like pets, but you would like them to.
Why Do Dogs Like to Be Petted So Much?
Dogs like pets because they are pack animals, see humans as part of their pack, and love bonding with other pack members.
Petting feels nice to most dogs. This is obvious, but the reason it feels nice is because of the pack mentality and desire to bond.
When looking at domestic dog behavior, it is always worth remembering that your dog’s ancestors were an ancient and now extinct species of wolf called the Late Pleistocene wolf.
Those ancestors would have needed to live as part of a pack to give themselves and their offspring the best chance of survival, so pack bonding would be very important to them.
Then your dog has thousands of years of man-made breeding in its DNA.
All domestic dogs have been bred to work worth, protect and live with humans.
So because of both the natural wolf pack mentality and the instinct to be with humans, your dog has powerful reasons to want to bond with you.
NOTE – You might enjoy reading this post about why dogs rub up against you.
Where Do Dogs Like Being Petted?
Apart from obvious places like the eyes of the genitalia, most dogs like pets on most areas of their body.
However, there are some sweet spots that they love being stroked, tickled, and scratched:
- The ears
- The belly
- On the back at the base of the tail
- The chest
- Under the chin
The ears – This one is best for floppy-eared dogs. They love having their ears stroked and gently pulled.
The belly – Most dogs love having their belly’s stroked and tickled.
On the back at the base of the tail – This one isn’t as well known, but if you stroke and scratch the end of their back near the tail, most dogs will really like it.
The chest – This one is great when they are sitting down. You can get easy access to their chest and give it some serious petting.
Under the chin – The chin and the throat are the favorite petting areas for many dogs.
NOTE – This short but interesting video shares some more tips on the best way to pet your dog so they really enjoy it.
Just click the video, and it will start to play:
How Do Dogs Want to Be Petted?
Unlike some animals, such as cats or horses, that are quite particular about how they like pets, dogs are much less fussy.
As long as you avoid certain areas such as the eyes, the mouth, the genitals, and any areas that might be sore, there isn’t much you can get wrong.
NOTE – You might also be interested to read this post asking – why are pet dogs so nice?
How to Pet, a Dog that Doesn’t Know You
You should be much more careful with a dog you haven’t met before than your dog or a dog you know well.
Even if they seem friendly and express happy body language, this could change quite quickly if you pet them in the wrong place.
So always let them get used to you. Slowly and gently pet them somewhere safe, like along their back or the side of their torso.
As the dog gets used to you, you can start petting them in other areas, just move slowly and observe to see if they like it.
What if Your Dog Doesn’t Like Pets?
This can be heartbreaking for some owners, but sadly some dogs don’t like to be petted.
If you have had your dog from when it was a young puppy, there might not be much you can do about it.
However, dogs change over time, so be patient, and they might come to like it.
But, if your dog came into your life as an older puppy or adult, it might be that they don’t like pets due to an issue that occurred when they were young.
In this case, with patience, it might be that they come to trust you enough to get over their fear and learn how to enjoy being petted and stroked again.
Some Medical Conditions Can Cause Dogs to Not Like Being Petted
If your dog is sick, in pain, or has something wrong with their skin, such as a cut or a rash, they might not want to be petted.
If you try to pet them, they might avoid you or, even worse, react aggressively.
If you notice a sudden change in behavior or any additional signs that the dog might be unwell or in pain, please take them to the vet for a checkup.
If you are in financial difficulty and are worried about vet bills, this site lists helpful resources for charities to help you pay your bills.
(If you don’t live in the US, you can use Google to find similar help in your country, there is a lot of support for dog owners who are in difficulty).
Benefits to Humans of Petting a Dog
There has been science carried out that proves that keeping a dog as a pet is good for its owner’s health.
So, by owning and petting your dog, not only are you looking after them, but you are also looking after your health as well.
Using Pets as a Reward for Good Behaviour in Training
As every dog trainer will tell you, rewarding good behavior is the best way to train them into a new way of behaving.
You can, of course, do this with treats, but as most dogs love being petted, you can also use pets to reward them during training.
Strokes and pets are free, very healthy, and your dog loves them, so why wouldn’t you lavish them?
Stroking Your Dog is a Great Way to Calm Them Down if Stressed or Scared
Because dogs like pets so much, they are beneficial for helping your dog calm down if they are feeling anxious or scared.
The human-to-dog contact and the feeling of petting can work wonders for an upset pooch.
Final Notes On Why Dogs Like Pets So Much
Dogs like pets because they are pack animals who have evolved and been bred to value close bonds with humans and other dogs.
Petting is good for both dogs and humans, so the more of it you can do, the better!
Tim is a proud, vetted, and experienced dog foster carer for a charity helping dog owners escape domestic abuse.
He has years of experience training and caring for dogs, both his own and other people’s.
He is an expert in canine behavior and is highly skilled in dealing with all dogs but specializes in the difficult ones that other people may struggle with.
When he isn’t fostering dogs, he is making friends with other people’s pups!