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A Dog’s Plea: ‘Don’t Pat My Head If You Don’t Know Me’

A Dog’s Plea: ‘Don’t Pat My Head If You Don’t Know Me’

I recently read a facebook status update written by a friend that read, “Please don’t touch my preggo tummy if you don’t know me.” I assume most pregnant women want to carry around a sign with those words. I also imagine that most dogs want to carry around a sign that reads, “Please don’t pat my head if you don’t know me.”

While most dogs don’t like being pat on the head, my dog, Sanchez, REALLY doesn’t like it. He often ducks and backs up, even from me – and I’m the person that cares for him, lives with him, loves him, trains with him, feeds him, and is his partner in everything dog. I’ve clicker trained him to tolerate it, as I know strangers will do it no matter what. His very large head is just a magnet to a human hand.

When greeting an unfamiliar dog, it is always best to:

1) Ask permission from their person

2) Let the dog make contact first.

3) Make small, slow movements. Rushing up to a dog could make him fearful.

4) Slowly pet him on the chest, underneath his head, instead of reaching over his head (which can be very threatening to a dog).

Does your dog like having his head pat by strangers? How about by you? Thank you for clicking on “comment” below and sharing your experiences.

Have you seen the new Adoptable Pets page on Care2? Check it out here! Please also share with your friends. We’d love your help in finding homes for these adorable animals!

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Read more: Behavior & Communication, Dogs, Pets, Safety, , ,

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Lisa Spector

Lisa Spector is a concert pianist, Juilliard graduate, and canine music expert. She is co-founder of Through a Dog's Ear, the first music clinically demonstrated to calm the canine nervous system. Their new high-tech pet gadget, iCalmDog, is the portable solution to canine anxiety. Lisa shares her home and her heart with her two "career change" Labrador Retrievers from Guide Dogs for the Blind, Sanchez and Gina. Follow Lisa's blog here.


+ add your own
6:18AM PDT on Jul 8, 2013

thank you for the interesting article 8/7

5:15AM PDT on Apr 1, 2013

It reminds me of the person who thought he would get on with me by giving my horse a hefty pat on the nose. No! Hefty pats are OK on the neck, but the sensitive nose of a horse needs stroking gently. He didn't noticew her wincing, but I did.

3:24AM PDT on Mar 20, 2013

Very sensible advice. I'm lucky; my dogs will take any amount of patting, anywhere, any time.

7:28AM PDT on Mar 12, 2013


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12:37PM PST on Mar 9, 2013

Good advice. Didn't know about patting the chest, makes sense.Thanks.

11:37AM PST on Mar 9, 2013

I've never had a problem with this. I think maybe your dog has been hit on the head by someone, I do hope it wasn't you.

I must admit I always offer my hand to the dogs nose first if it's a dog I haven't met before.

8:02AM PST on Mar 9, 2013

I never knew that. I will greet them differently.

12:36AM PST on Mar 9, 2013

Good advice. Not only is it better for the dogs-but it might prevent bites.

2:19PM PST on Mar 8, 2013

I learned this some years ago when my dog (recently adopted at the time) and me participated in a basic training course. I have been amazed by the response I get when I leave unknown dogs alone untill they seek contact themselves, and then stroke their chin instead of petting their head. When thinking about it now, it all seems so obvious. I wouldn`t like if strangers petted my head*!! Keep the awareness growing!!

10:21AM PST on Mar 7, 2013

This is great advice that would serve many people well and save many an animal's life. How many people have been bitten by a dog because they approached a dog they didn't know and that dog ended up being killed because of it?

I'm sick of animals paying the ultimate price for OUR stupidity.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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