8 ways of petting your dog and how they respond

I discuss seven ways that humans pet and interact with their dog and how they respond to these interactions.

Cuddling a dog is pleasureable for dog and person
Cuddling a dog is pleasureable for dog and person as it reminds a dog of when they were a puppy with litter mates. Photo by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels

Scratching a male dog’s chest

The first is scratching a male dog’s chest. They like it a lot. This is because it reminds them of having sex with a female! When they are having sex with a female dog and they make their pelvic thrusts their chest rubs against her back in a rhythmic way. When you rub your male dog’s chest with your hand you remind him of that pleasurable experience.

Tickling the ear

Another way you can remind your dog of a pleasurable sexual experience is when you tickle or scratch him behind the ears. Ear-licking, sniffing and nibbling are preliminaries to dog lovemaking.

Pushing away

Another dog-human interaction is gently pushing a playful dog away. The dog might become excited because it’s as if you are joining in play. He or she will come forward again to be pushed away again. It may lead to gentle biting by the dog and their human companion grabbing the dog by its jaws which is in effect a return bite. This strengthens the bond between human and their dog companion.


When you pat a dog on his or her back you are doing what humans do to each other as a friendly gesture. How does a dog relate to this? They don’t pat each other on their backs. It seems that they treat this as if they are being nudged, as when puppies nudge the bellies of their mothers. Also subordinate dogs do it to dominant ones. So if humans pat a dog the dog is pleased because humans are dominant to them and therefore it is an indication that they have become submissive. This means that the human is trying to reassure the dog.


If you stroke a dog with a long coat as if you are stroking a cat this has less impact than if you pat a dog but it probably reminds them of how they were licked by their mother when they were puppies. Therefore it is pleasurable for them.


If you cuddle your dog this will bring up memories of the days when they were a puppy and part of a litter of puppies; close together warming each other. Their mother may have wrapped their large bodies and paws around them in the nest. Definitely a pleasant memory.

Rubbling the side of a dog’s face

Dogs also enjoy having the sides of their heads rubbed along the jaw line. This is a comfort action by the human but it is also performed by dogs naturally when trying to alleviate irritations in the mouth region. They rub the sides of their heads against hard objects.

Heavy pre-competition grooming

Show dogs who are groomed to an extreme to improve their appearance in competition tolerate the grooming experience. It goes beyond what they would normally like but they have to endure it stoically as if they are being “bullied by a dominant dog”. These are the words of Dr Desmond Morris who provided information for this article. Thank you.

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