These Are The Best Places To Pet A Dog, According To A Dog

Your pup will always tell you what’s up 🐶

Some dogs love all the pets from all the people, while others can definitely be more finicky.

When it comes to where she’s petted (and who’s petting her), your dog probably has some personal preferences —so it’s important that you learn her boundaries.

Typically, most dogs share safe zones that are OK to pet — as well as areas on their bodies that are totally off-limits.

To help, The Dodo reached out to Dr. Stephanie Austin, a veterinarian at Bond Vet in New York City, who explained the best places to pet a dog — and where to avoid.

Where do dogs love to be petted?

As a general rule of thumb, the neck, chest and shoulders are places that many dogs like to be petted.

But it’s important to keep in mind that not all dogs are created equal when it comes to where they like to be touched. “For example, some pups love belly scratches or petting on the rump area, while others may be more guarded about those parts of their body,” Dr. Austin told The Dodo.

How to pet a dog the right way

If you’re not sure what a dog likes or doesn’t like when you first meet her, your best strategy is to let her come to you and sniff your hand.

“If the dog is friendly and relaxed, try gently petting the neck, chest or shoulders. Don’t reach for their head from above, as this could appear threatening to a dog,” Dr. Austin suggested.

You can usually tell if a dog is enjoying being petted because she’ll get closer to you, act relaxed and happy and even lean into your hand where you are petting.

“If a dog becomes tense or standoffish, this may be a warning that they aren’t comfortable with the petting,” Dr. Austin said.

Where to not pet a dog

According to Dr. Austin, there are some places — in general — where dogs might be uncomfortable with someone touching.

Questionable spots include:

  • Paws
  • Legs
  • Tail
  • Face

“And even though many pups appreciate a good belly rub, they may also be protective of their belly and the underside of their body,” Dr. Austin said.

And be wary of any areas on the body that might be particularly sensitive.

“Some dogs may have areas of the body that are sensitive due to underlying health conditions — for example, if a dog’s hips are painful due to arthritis, they might not like someone pressing on or near their hips,” Dr. Austin said.

It’s also important to keep in mind that some dogs just don’t like to be touched by strangers. So if your dog prefers to warm up to people, advocate for her and let others know that she just needs time. Don’t force her to be uncomfortable by accepting unwanted interactions from other pets!

Of course, the best thing you can do when getting to know a dog is to start off slow and check in with her body language. She’ll usually tell you exactly what she’s comfortable with.

And once you figure it out together, your bond will be even stronger!