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One of the best ways to bond with your dog is by showing them love and affection, but you need to know the right way of doing this. Dogs aren’t like people, so what you think your dog may love may actually cause them stress. Here are some of the best ways to show affection to your dog:
Respect your dog’s personal space
Like humans, dogs have a sense of personal space that needs to be acknowledged. Forcing a hug on a dog can make your dog feel as though their space is being invaded. A hug for humans is seen as an act of affection, but for a dog, it can be interpreted as an act of dominance and feels potentially threatening. If you hug your dog, be watchful of their body language and don’t be surprised if they act uneasy. Call them to you to ensure they are welcoming of physical attention. Don’t reach your hands out, let them walk into your space. Pat your dog gently when they come to you and don’t chase them for cuddles.
Careful with patting
Soft, gentle strokes under the chin or on the chest are perfect for your pet, and they tell your dog that you love them. However, raising your hand over their head, patting or thumping your pet, even playfully, can be scary or painful for your dog and could be interpreted as physically controlling or dominating. Be sure to remind children about the proper way to pat your dog, too. Your dog could become defensive if children pat them too roughly or climb on them. For some dogs, patting can be painful. If your dog has arthritis or has suffered injuries in the past, patting can be uncomfortable. Pay attention to how your dog reacts to your affection and adjust your behaviour accordingly.
Don’t pick up your small dog
Just because you can pick up your dog, it doesn’t mean you should. Being lifted off the ground and held isn’t a natural thing for your pet to endure. It can be frightening, disorienting, and can cause your pet to feel vulnerable and potentially fight back. It’s especially important that you don’t allow children to pick up your dog because they could feel threatened and react aggressively. Also, a fall from their arms could seriously hurt your pet and create a negative association and fear of hands. So, whether it’s Valentine's Day, or any other day of the year, the best way you can show your love for your dog is by simply spending lots of time with them. They'll return your love tenfold.