Dogs are much easier to please than cats. Rub them for a few minutes, and they’ll turn into furry heaps of Jell-O—then roll over and sleep for 14 hours.
Actually, it’s more complex than this. Dogs interpret and respond to touching quite differently than people do. Unlike cats, who evolved as solitary creatures, dogs used to spend their days in the company of other dogs. They were very physical with one another, and they sent a lot of messages with touch. Many of the messages were loving, but some were assertive or aggressive. Dogs understand that people aren’t dogs, of course, and they accept touches from us that they’d never accept from their peers. But rubbing them the wrong way can still be a source of tension, so it’s worth understanding what they do and don’t like.
Scratch under the chin.
Rub the chest and back.
Dogs enjoy long strokes just as much as cats do, and they adore having their chests rubbed.
The base of a dog’s tail is often a source of great enjoyment for them when it comes to receiving affection. It’s an area that, when gently rubbed or scratched, can elicit a strong, positive response. Although dogs don’t arch their hind ends as prominently as cats often do, attentive observers might notice them performing a sort of joyful, side-to-side wiggle with their rear ends. This ‘happy dance’ is a sign of their pleasure and contentment.
However, it’s important to remember that not all forms of contact in this area are appreciated by dogs. Tugging on a dog’s tail, even if done lightly, can cause discomfort or even pain. Their tails contain many sensitive nerve endings, and pulling on them can be unpleasant, akin to someone yanking on a part of your body.
Therefore, it’s essential to interact with this part of a dog’s body in a considerate manner that respects their comfort and well-being. Always aim to provide a positive and pleasurable experience for them, being mindful of your actions and their potential impacts. This not only promotes a strong, respectful relationship but also ensures the dog’s overall happiness and welfare.
Stay off the top.
It’s natural for people to rub the tops of dogs’ heads, if only because it’s the easiest spot for them to reach when standing up. Most dogs have learned to accept top-of-the-head rubs as a sign of human affection, but their natural instinct is to dislike it because that’s the way dominant or aggressive dogs show their superiority. When you have a new dog in the family or are greeting a dog on the street, rubbing the top of the head sends an unmistakable signal of authority, and that’s not the best way to start a relationship.
Spend time on the belly.
Unlike many cats who often exhibit a hesitancy towards belly rubs and generally establish boundaries on the extent of physical touch they’ll accept, dogs typically show an opposite reaction. Dogs absolutely love having their bellies rubbed. This is a universally acknowledged truth in the world of pet companionship.
Once a dog feels comfortable with you, belly rubs become more than just a pleasurable experience for them – they turn into a sort of ritual. Dogs, entranced by the soothing sensation and the affectionate attention you’re giving them, won’t just permit you to continue the belly rubs, they’ll actively encourage it. In fact, they’ll often even demand it, presenting their belly to you in a clear invitation for more rubs.
And when you’ve successfully cast this ‘spell’ of affection on them, they’ll be more than willing to let you continue the rubs for as long as you’re able and willing. Their love for belly rubs knows no bounds, and they relish in these moments of warmth and bonding. This distinct contrast between cats and dogs further emphasizes the unique, individualistic ways in which different species express their comfort, trust, and joy.