“Can I Pet Your Puppy?”

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Ryder at 10 weeks

Not many people realize that there are some dogs who truly do not want to be pet. Just like people, some dogs are either uncomfortable with strangers touching them, or just don’t like it. Did you know that even a puppy sometimes would rather not be pet? Yes, that sweet cuddly puppy that you just want to pick up and cuddle, may actually prefer that you don’t!

My dog Ryder has always been one of those dogs. From the time he was a puppy, he was always a bit wary of people he didn’t know. Not hide behind my leg sort of wary, but rather pee submissively nearly every time someone he didn’t know tried to pet him kind of wary. As a dog owner, its embarrassing and frustrating to have a dog that pees every time someone wants to pet your adorably fluffy dog. As a puppy, its just simply frightening.

Not every dog or puppy wants to be pet and cuddled. Can you imagine groups of people surrounding YOU at the pet store. It’s like the paparazzi snapping photos, except they are touching you and picking you up. Small dogs and puppies have to tolerate this all the time and not every dog owner recognizes that this makes the dog uncomfortable until their sweet puppy starts growling or barking at people. What happened? He used to love being pet and picked up? Or did he?

Paying attention to your dogs body language is very important to his social health, not just in puppy hood but through adolescence and adulthood as well. Do you know how to tell if your dog is uncomfortable with being greeted? Here are a few behaviors that under the right circumstances may mean that your dog is uncomfortable.

  • Slight cowering/leaning away
  • Ears flattened or furrowed brow
  • Licking lips when no food is near by
  • Moving away or not approaching
  • Submissive peeing/rolling over submissively
  • Wide eyes/seeing whites of eye (aka: whale eye)

With Ryder, I had to put my embarrassment aside and become an advocate for my puppy because his fear was only getting worse. Since Ryder loved to play, we started bringing his ball everywhere we went. When someone asked to pet him, I’d explain that he is shy, but they could help him gain confidence by throwing his ball for him. Over time, Ryder came to anticipate that people meant it was time to play and he could trust that I wouldn’t let them invade his space. Ryder now accepts strangers and even allows petting too without peeing. Had I continued allowing people to pet him, Ryder may have resorted to saying “I don’t want to be pet” in a more firm manner which for a dog looks like growling, barking or even biting. Preventing aggression is much easier than treating it!

Check out this video, then watch your dog while they are greeting someone. What do you think? Do they REALLY want to be touched?

Do you have a shy or fearful dog or puppy? We can help your dog learn to feel comfortable with how humans like to greet dogs. Give us a call (612-388-9656) or send us an email to tell us about your dog.

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