Does your dog really like being petted?

enrichment fearful dogs reactive dogs Mar 24, 2020

By Kelly Lee

Most of us assume that dogs like petting.  But how do we know? 

Dogs are individuals just like people are. Some love cuddling, and some don’t.  And even the cuddliest dogs don’t want to be touched all the time. 

Here are some signs that a dog isn’t craving human contact:

  • Turning to look at your hand as you pet the dog, and possibly licking the hand. This can be the polite canine version of “Please stop.”;
  • Ducking the head or moving away;
  • Puppy biting.  Most puppy biting is chalked up to, well, being a puppy. But if your puppy gets extra squirmy and bitey when you hold him, he could be trying to tell you that he doesn’t want to be held;
  • Failure to approach. This is a big one. It’s common for many of us to walk up to dogs, even unfamiliar dogs, and reach out to pet them. This is a risky habit. If a dog has not approached you on his own, assume that was a deliberate choice and respect the dog’s personal space. 


Check out this video to learn 4 simple steps for asking a dog if they want to be petted. There are many examples showing “yes” and “no thank you” answers from different dogs.