By Linda Cole
It may not seem that important, but how you pet a dog does matter… to the dog. Because canines are individuals, the “sweet spot” one dog enjoys may be an area you need to avoid with another, especially if you don’t know the dog. It’s important to teach children how to touch a dog to keep interactions between them safe and pleasant. Petting seems like a simple concept, but there are some things to keep in mind.
Wait for an invitation
Our first impulse is to reach down to pet a friendly looking dog, but in his eyes that’s not a proper greeting. How you greet a dog matters. Ignore him while he takes a few minutes to check you out, and remember to ask the dog’s owner for permission to pet him. If the dog doesn’t appear interested in you or is holding back and hiding behind his owner, he may not be in the mood to have someone he doesn’t know petting him. He’ll let you know when he’s ready for you to scratch his head.
Our own pets are comfortable with us because of the trust and bond we’ve built. We can pet them in ways they wouldn’t allow someone else to do, and are much more likely to accept things from us they wouldn’t from someone they aren’t familiar with. Never try to pet an unfamiliar dog who is trying to move away from you, is cornered, eating or lying down.