Your poodle is your best friend, you want to show your poodle you appreciate them as a member of your family.
So, where are the best places to pet or rub your poodle?
Toy poodles, miniature poodles, and standard poodles enjoy being petted, rubbed or stroked on their belly, back, chest and head. Most poodles do not like having their tail, or legs touched. However, poodles all like different things so you should get to know your pet to find out what they like best.
In this article, I’ll aim to cover the following:
- Why should you pet your poodle?
- Where does your poodle like to be petted best?
- What to avoid when petting your poodle.
- How to pet a poodle you don’t know
- Why should you pet your poodle?
Why should you pet your poodle?
Petting or stroking your dog is good for you and your dog- it helps with bonding and is thought to reduce stress and anxiety for both the pet and the owner. Scientists have shown that just 10 mins of stroking or petting your pet can significantly reduce stress and cortisol levels, you can read more about this here. As if you needed even more of an excuse to pet your favorite pooch!
A study conducted at Arizona State University also found that petting your dog is a much better way to praise your dog than using words alone. It seems that dogs understand being petted much more than verbal praise, so if you want to let you know your dog has made you happy you may be better off giving them a quick stroke than singing their praises!
Where does your poodle like to be petted best?
The majority of poodles love a chest or back rub but most dogs will have a sweet spot, where they love to be fussed- for my dog this is his belly and behind his ears- but every poodle is different. So, one of the best things you can do is get to know your poodle. Try petting your dog in different spots and see how they react. If your dog likes where you are petting they will appear relaxed and content, they will not try and wriggle away from you and instead may close their eyes to enjoy the attention they are getting. They will not want you to stop and will probably paw at you or whine when you stop petting, they may also nuzzle you to let you know they want the fussing to continue.
If your dog is not bothered or indifferent to being touched in a certain spot, they will likely tolerate the petting but will not encourage you to continue when you stop.
If your poodle doesn’t like to be touched somewhere, they will try and wriggle away. If something is uncomfortable or painful for them, they may even whimper, yelp, or growl a little to let you know to stop. If your poodle does this, you should stop what you are doing right away and leave them alone for a little while.
You should stroke a poodle’s hair in the direction it grows in (downwards from the head to the tail) and use steady relaxing movements instead of jerky or shark ones. Your petting motion should be like a gentle massage or scratch for your dog and should not be uncomfortable for them.
What to avoid when petting your poodle…
Your poodle probably does not like to be patted in the typical fast slapping motion used by a lot of children. This can be frightening and uncomfortable for them. If you see a child doing this or doing something else you poodle won’t like, such as stroking too hard or stroking your poodle against their fur growth, take it as an opportunity to educate your child on how to pet a dog so they both enjoy it. Teaching your child how to pet a dog properly also decreases any risk of them being bitten by an unfriendly dog.
Toy poodles, miniature poodles, and standard poodles, like all dogs, can often be seen rolling onto their back exposing their bellies to greet you and say hello to their owners. A common mistake made by owners is thinking that this behavior means they want belly rubs. However, a poodle exposing his belly in greeting is more likely to be a show of submission and recognizing the owner as the dominant person or the “boss”.
While some poodles will not mind being hugged, some will not like it when they are hugged so they are prevented from getting away. A hug that holds a poodle in one place could be very stressful for them-imagine if someone 8x the size of you held you in one place- you probably wouldn’t like it! Always made sure your poodle can leave and get away from you if they want to. Knowing you will not trap them will make your poodle more likely to approach you for petting and cuddling, so it really is a win-win!
How to stroke a Poodle you don’t know
If you know the poodle you want to stroke well, you probably do not need to do this step. However, if the poodle is not part of your household- say a poodle you have met in the park, or a friend’s dog- it is worth exercising a bit of caution to make sure you do not make the dog overwhelmed or scared. The first thing you should do is ask the dog owner’s permission, they know their dog better than anyone and will know if being petted by a stranger is something their dog will enjoy. If at any point the poodle begins to bear their teeth or growl, you should leave the dog alone and walk away.
If the poodle does not know you, it is worth waiting for the poodle to approach you first. This is especially important with children, who can sometimes be too heavy-handed with dogs they have just met- sending the dog in the opposite direction!
To show the poodle you would like to pet them, you should crouch or squat low down so you are closer to the dog and smaller. Make sure your body language is relaxed and open. Some dogs may prefer you to turn to the side instead of facing them straight on and avoid direct eye contact, as this is thought to be less threatening body language. If the dog is very shy you should try looking away from them and avoid hovering over them as this can make them feel uncomfortable and threatened.
A toy poodles, miniature poodles, and standard poodle that wants to be stroked will normally sniff you first, so extend your hand close to them so they can become familiar with your smell. As long as the poodle is looking relaxed and is not growling or shaking, you should now try and pet the poodle. With a poodle you don’t know, it is best to go for areas that most poodles like, such as the chest or back.
Research conducted by academics at Colombia University conducted indicated that people are bad at recognizing dog emotions. It found that people who had little experience with dogs found it especially difficult to sense if dogs were scared, so it’s important that you are cautious when trying to stroke a strange dog.
I hope this article has answered some of your key questions when it comes to petting your favorite poodle pooch, please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments.