A closeup of a dog getting pet.

Do Dogs Like To Be Pet?

5 mins |

The love between a human and a dog is so strong that we often refer to them as our furry best friends. After all, who can resist those puppy-dog eyes filled with love and respect, and the tail wagging while trying to lean on us? And while we want to pet them to show our love and respect for them, do dogs actually like to be pet? 

Yes, dogs like to be pet. The act of petting releases endorphins and activates the love hormone in dogs’ brains, allowing them to feel happy and content but also helping them to cope with anxiety and depression.  

Why Do Dogs Enjoy Getting Pets?

A dog sitting down outside and enjoying being pet by their owner.
This dog’s loving this!

Dogs have been a part of our world longer than any domesticated animal. As such, the human-dog bond has only intensified through the years to the extent that we refer to them as companion dogs and, in many cases, treat them as family members. 

So, as part of our family, we want to create some sort of attachment with our dogs, and it’s only a good thing that dogs like to be pet. It is widely known that dogs enjoy scratches, cuddles, and petting in general, as it makes them feel good. Domesticated dogs often prefer petting over food, in fact.

Moreover, when dogs interact in some physical touch with us, they release endorphins, the same “feel-good” hormones we release when we are happy. 

The release of endorphins makes your dog reduce stress and anxiety and relax, meaning that these interactions are supportive of your dog’s mental health. 

But to make things even cuter, dogs not only release endorphins but, exhibit a surge of oxytocin (the love hormone) when getting belly rubs, as well. That’s why they feel happy when we pet them. The love hormone has many effects, but the main effect is to promote bonding

Benefits Of Petting A Dog

Dogs and humans have a great bond with one another. Nothing is better than coming home after a long day of work, drinking your afternoon coffee, and having your dog on your lap, waiting to be pet. 

Research has shown that human-dog interactions, whether talking or petting, tend to lower human blood pressure. In fact, blood pressure levels were lowest during dog petting

Besides making us feel better, petting your dog might be beneficial to their health as well. While you pet your dog, you may encounter some skin irritations, ticks, or fleas that are impossible to see from all the dense fur and might have been hiding there for quite some time. It’s not fun to think about, but it will help you to help your dog.

Also, petting your dog can help you feel some areas that have been swollen and would require medical attention. 

We know dogs have a high pain tolerance, and the symptoms indicating the dog is in pain are commonly mistaken as something else unless you touch the area that’s hurting. 

Places Where Dogs Love You To Pet Them

Although it’s widely known dogs enjoy petting, not every dog likes to be petted in the same way. So, it’s important to understand a dog’s body language and approach it carefully, and in a way you know for sure that the dog feels comfortable with. 

In general, many dogs enjoy getting pets in these areas:

  • Belly and the underside of the chest 
  • Around the ears (this is the best spot for almost every dog)
  • Under the chin
  • On the sides of the thighs 
  • On the neck and occasionally the top of the head
  • Lower back near the tail

Some dogs might even love grooming as it activates the feel-good sensors, and dogs feel they are being pet. I was confused by this phenomenon until I noticed my dog enjoying the grooming session.

Why Do Dogs Shake Their Legs When You Scratch Them?

Has it ever happened that your dog shakes its leg uncontrollably while petting it? You might think your dog feels ticklish and enjoys being pet there, but contrary to popular belief, your dog might not enjoy the scratches in that particular place that much.

The shaking of its legs, referred to as the scratch reflex, activates the nerves that go up to the spinal cord, triggered when a foreign body is on your dog’s skin. 

It’s the same as when a flea or a tick attaches to the dog’s fur. What does the dog do in that case? It tries to remove the foreign body by scratching it.

So, the next time your dog shakes its legs involuntarily, know that the scratch reflex is just an adapted reaction. Move your hand away from the “spot” and give them that long-awaited belly rub for complete relaxation. 

Final Thoughts: Do Dogs Like To Be Pet?

Dogs love to be pets. But remember, dogs only love to receive pets from familiar people or people they trust. So if you are a stranger, go slow and build that trust first.

So, does your dog love pets too? Or does it not like them so much? Let us know in the comments below!

Sandra is a veterinary undergraduate student based in Macedonia. She combines her two passions: veterinary medicine and writing, and she also tends to raise awareness about animal welfare as much as she can. As a student, she has attended many seminars and conferences related to the veterinary profession, and currently, she is focused on veterinary content writing. Although she owns a cat, she strongly claims that “dogs are her favorite people”.