You would think that a dog’s main motivation in life is just to please you. It is my assumption however that their motivation in life has more to do with the social interaction it provides them than with providing themselves with physical gratification. This theory actually makes a lot of sense. Dogs crave human contact. In fact dogs will go to great lengths to get human attention. This means that why do dogs like being petted?
The basic idea behind petting a dog is to provide attention and stimulation for the dog. A dog’s natural drive is to please its owner and in return the dog is expected to perform specific tricks in order to please its owner. In most cases this interaction will not be direct and will often take the form of playing with the dog. Dog’s enjoy being petted in this way since the dog feels like it is performing some sort of reward in order to receive the affection.
Another reason as to why do dogs like being petted so much stems from the dog’s need for affirmation. Humans can provide this all day long but for a dog, it is one thing that they can always count on. The simple fact that you are there and are willing to spend time with your dog, that you are not ignoring the dog or ignoring it in some way, sends a message to the dog that you are secure and safe. The dog is then expected to perform some type of trick in order to further reinforce this message.
Why do dogs behave the way they do? Most owners attribute it to their instinctive behavior and how they are “made” to act. For many dogs, petting is the ultimate form of affection so they naturally want to receive it. However, as with humans they might not be able to reciprocate this action 100%. Dogs are social animals and need an opportunity to interact with another animal, human or otherwise, in order to know that the other person is willing and available to take the time to pet them. If the petting experience is one that is forced, then the dog is not receiving any type of assurance that it is being well received.
As a dog owner it is important to remember that you are the one who is making the rules. You will determine whether or not your dog follows them. If you are constantly told that you cannot make the dog do something then perhaps it is time for you to reevaluate your relationship with your dog. Perhaps you have made it clear to the dog that you are the leader and he needs to listen to you.
It is not up to the dog owner to teach his or her dog to do anything. Petting is only an indication that the dog has warmed up to the prospect of being petted. When dogs start doing something automatically the owner of the dog notices this and they will praise the dog for his or her good behavior. If you have a difficult time praising your dog for good behavior then it may be a good idea for you and your dog to go for a walk together. When you and your dog are out walking then you can start talking to him or her in a friendly way. You should also take the opportunity to give your dog the attention that he or she desires when being petted.
The truth of the matter is that it is up to you to make sure that you pet your dog with an affectionate but controlled touch. This is very different than when people pet them and rub their faces with their hands. Dogs are not able to reciprocate this type of affection so they feel the need to keep their distance from this type of physical contact. They also do not want to become entangled with cords that could get caught on things when they are being petted.
Your pet is going to have a more enjoyable petting experience if you understand why he or she does what he or she does. Understanding the reason behind your dog’s choices will allow you to choose better responses for petting. You should not expect your dog to jump on you when you are petting him or her because this is something that is reserved only for close members of your family. You should also not think about how you are going to physically pet your dog because this will probably lead to the petting experience getting completely dismissed. It is up to you to keep your eye on your dog during petting and to make sure that your dog understands that you are the leader of the interaction and that he or she is not required to submit to you completely.