Pawing our Pets

Why do we humans find it so hard to just let our dogs be?

Must tickle that fluff-ball! Can’t resist scrunching that sleek black coat. Ooooh, kiss that soft muzzle. Coochy-coo…squeeze that little pug-face.

Why do I, like so many humans, feel like this? The feel, the smell, the everything... cries out “Touch Me!”.

Why is it we humans so get off on stroking, ruffling, tickling, ruffling and roughing-up canine fur?

Fortunately for our sakes, many dogs love it – but not all. Do we even consider if Archie likes being approached and touched in our urge to lavish physical affection on his cute little face?

“What? He doesn’t like it? But I’m a Dog Lover!”.

Some dog owners I visit touch their dogs all the time they are near to them. Who is more needy, the human or the dog? I sometimes suggest a compulsive toucher spends five minutes at a time sitting on their hands. They could take up knitting.

I also meet dogs that avoid a particular human, usually the one that loves them the most, because they get no peace. This person is terribly upset.

Does fondling dog’s fur give us some sort of high?

Just imagine living with needy members of another species, that you are unable to escape from, that want to paw us all the time. (It can be equally bad when our own species does it).

Even strangers feel they are entitled to join in ‘dog-touching’.

Looking at dogs in a group – dogs just being dogs – do we see communal touching going on beyond a few sniffs and licks here and there? No.

We ourselves may enjoy a certain kinds of non-intimate touching for limited periods of time, like massage. It is likewise for dogs. This is an expert kind of touch that is sensitive to when the dog has had enough. He has choice.


It’s been suggested  before that a dog may rub his body against someone or against furniture much like a cat to spread his scent. Stroking our hand over a dog might seem to him like us scent marking. This would add another unwelcome angle to all this touching from the point of view of the dog.

My most recent case story got me thinking down this path – a lovely puppy that simply doesn’t want to be touched in his bed when he’s resting. Typing ‘being touched‘ in the search box on my website brings up a large number of case stories of dogs that have problems with being touched in certain ways, at certain times or by certain people.


About Theo Stewart

I am a dog Behaviourist C.C.B (Certified Canine Behaviourist) INTODogs). I have helped over 3000 dog owners over eighteen years. In addition to online consultations all over the world, I cover Beds, Herts, Cambs and Bucks for home visits. A 'Victoria Stilwell' Positively Dog Trainer (VSPDT) and a full member of the IMDT. Graduate ISCP, International School for Canine Practitioners. My main site:
This entry was posted in behaviour and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Pawing our Pets

  1. Donna Hill says:

    One word for you. Oxytocin. Every time we touch them we get a dose. And it feels good! So we touch some more.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s