3 places where you shouldn’t pet your dog: one of them is still a common mistake

László Enikő

2023. July 28 - Photos: Getty Images Hungary

Although dogs generally like to be pet almost anywhere, there are places they enjoy less and can be uncomfortable to touch. Below we take a look at what these are.


If you pet your dog at the base of his ears, under his chin, on his chest, under his collar, at the base of his tail, or even on his belly, he’ll more than likely love it. But there are some areas you should avoid, because he may not enjoy it. Here are some of them!

The tail

A dog’s tail is an important part of how it communicates with each other and with people. Our furry friends don’t necessarily take kindly to people touching their tails. They use this part of their body to communicate and don’t like it being interfered with. A clear sign of tail-taboo is also seen in dog grooming, where dogs instinctively tuck their tails under themselves when the groomer wants to trim the hair.

The paws and feet

Dogs are usually uncomfortable when their paws are petted or scratched. This is mainly because they have to use them to escape from danger. So, instinctively, they don’t want anything to obstruct their escape. Most dogs will automatically pull away and lift their paws when you touch them, giving you a clear signal that they don’t necessarily like it. And have you ever tried to cut the hair off a dog’s paw? It’s not a difficult task for nothing…

The head

Where do you go when you want to pet someone’s dog? Their head. Some dogs don’t mind having the top of their head scratched, but many don’t like it and just tolerate. So watch your dog’s reaction when you try to touch its head. If he pulls away, closes his eyes, maybe pushes his head back as you reach towards him, then neglect him and don’t force him. Many dogs will often let someone pet their head, but even if they don’t necessarily mind, there are many more ideal areas for that. For a strange dog, for example, petting the ear or the mar or neck is more expedient and less threatening than reaching for the top of the head.

Another reason dogs don’t like their heads scratched is that they don’t want their eyes and noses touched. They rely on the latter to explore the world around them, so it’s not pleasant for them to have someone poke them with their fingers. And it can be painful if they touch their eyes by mistake.

Okay, but where do you pet him?

If you want to know which is the best place for your dog to be touched, simply pay more attention to his body language. If your dog starts poking your hand when you stop petting or wags his tail, you’ve probably found the ideal place to scratch. But if he pulls his ears in, turns away, swerves or blinks, stop what you’re doing and give him some space. And remember, if the dog is showing its belly (especially if it’s a stranger), it’s not necessarily asking for a belly scratch!

dog and human relationship dog body language dog communication dog habits grooming pet petting the dog tail

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