How to Safely Pet a New Dog | The Science Behind Petting

How to Safely Pet a New Dog | The Science Behind Petting

The human-dog bond is an amazing thing, and many of the ways that we show love to our canine companions is through acts of overt physical affection—think head pats, belly rubs, ear scratches, and the like. Not all dogs are keen on such physical displays of fondness, but many are, suggesting that dogs like to be pet just as much as we like to pet them.

Why You Should Pet Your Dog

If you’re a little nervous about feeling overly affectionate with your dog, there’s good reason to keep it light and simple. The stress response that the dog experiences while interacting with a new person makes it even more likely that the dog will bite. Petting stimulates your dog’s brain. We’ve known this for some time. Now, a study published in Current Biology suggests that petting stimulates the release of a protein that reduces stress and pain.

How To Safely Pet a New Dog

There are few things more pleasing to the human psyche than a firm, dry rub on a dog’s ears, so that’s what’s frequently requested when meeting a new canine friend. While ear scratches and head butts seem like great ways to show your dog that he or she is wanted, there are some things that you can do to help ensure that your new dog isn’t unsettled by your affectionate contact. Here are some tips for safely petting a new dog. 1. Watch for signs that your new friend is uncomfortable. If you’re leaning into your new dog’s body and giving a full-body rub, that might be a cause for concern. Sometimes a dog won’t want you to touch them at all, so just watching for warning signs will give you an indication that this type of interaction might be too much for your new friend. 2.

How To Safely Pet a Dog That Isn’t Yours

So, it stands to reason that if you’re about to pet someone else’s pet, you’ll want to ask for permission before you do so. Unfortunately, this isn’t always as clear-cut as it sounds, because many dogs do seem to enjoy being pet, especially when it’s their owner who is initiating the affection. In a new study, published in PLOS One, researchers looked at all the evidence on the subject and came up with a theory on how to know if your pet will enjoy being pet: you need to find out if the dog you’re about to pet has received sufficient physical contact from the owner in the past, and the owner should let you know that they’re comfortable with you touching the dog (preferably before you touch him).

Why Most Dogs Like To Be Petted

Many of our differences between dogs and people have to do with their response to stimulation. On the one hand, dogs are wired for a sensory experience that’s focused on the present, and we prefer to experience things in the past or the future. On the other hand, humans are wired for a sensory experience that’s focused on the future, but our dogs can still respond well to the immediate now. All that sensory input helps produce several of the fundamental needs that have evolved in our companion animals—an ability to feel safe, to experience pleasure, and to establish a relationship with its owner. In short, a dog can feel love from a pat on the head, but the same pat on the head could be interpreted as a threat from a human.

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