Petting a Dog or Cat the Right Way

Published on April 18, 2019 by

Women petting small dogEnjoy meeting new dogs and cats but wonder what is the right way to pet a dog or cat? Dogs and cats are both domesticated species but there are a lot of differences between canines and felines. Further, each dog and cat are different. The primary differences are character, nature and physical appearance.

The Nature and Characteristics of Cats

Cats are independent animals and usually content to be on their own. A cat is more possessive of its territory than its owner or other animals. Felines love small spaces to curl up in but may also enjoy sitting on their owner’s lap. Some cats like to be petted or scratched behind the ears. They may walk over to greet you when you come home or may seem indifferent and observe you from a comfortable distance.

A cat can be house trained quickly if there’s a litter box nearby. However, using a litter box is more intuitive to a cat rather than actual training. The climbing and jumping abilities that a cat possesses make it easier to get away from a predator or to hide in a safe place if it feels there’s a nearby threat.

A cat is a natural carnivore and must eat some meat to survive. The metabolism of a cat differs from a dog since a cat doesn’t burn off fat reserves as a dog does. If a cat goes without food for too long, it begins to break down non-fatty tissue that’s necessary for energy.

When a feline’s non-fatty tissue breaks down, it may cause a condition that’s known as hepatic lipidosis. Cats catch their prey by creeping up on it, not running long distances. The ability of a cat to climb allows it to evade predators or observe what’s going on from a safe place.

How Dogs Are Different from Cats

By contrast, dogs are social and love being around people. Dogs are delighted to see their owners when they awaken in the morning or even after a brief nap. When you’ve been at work or away for the entire day, a dog will wag its whole body and may try to jump on you because they’re so happy to see you. A lot of dogs are lap dogs and love to be close to you. Dogs love spending time with their owners whether it’s playing in the yard, going for a walk, or taking a journey to the dog park.

A dog is more natural to train than a cat, and most can learn to respond to basic commands within a few minutes. Many dogs can learn “come,” “sit,” or “stay” with a brief training session. However, housebreaking a dog can be a work in progress. Some dogs catch on faster than others when it comes to house training.

To be a capable hunter, a dog needs its pack. However, a dog is a natural scavenger and can survive longer on whatever food is available than a cat. A dog that’s in the wild will catch its prey by running long distances to find it, if necessary. A dog is capable of surviving on fat reserves longer than a cat.

How A Cat or Dog Responds to New People

Although a lot of people find a cat or kitten irresistible and want to pet it as soon as it strolls into the room, there’s a right way and a wrong way to greet a cat for the first time. Each cat has a distinct personality and may be an introvert or extrovert.

Some cats will walk up to a new person to greet them while others will dive under the bed and stay there until your guests leave. Two of the essential factors in the behavior of a cat are genetics and socialization. If the parents of your cat were strays or feral, your cat might have a nervous disposition.

If your cat came from a shelter and had minimal exposure to other people and cats, the environment in your home may be a little overwhelming until the cat becomes accustomed to its surroundings.

Some dogs are relaxed around people they don’t know and will come up to greet them when they come into your home. However, if your dog came from a shelter or was previously in an abusive environment, they may feel fearful or shy around new people. Some dogs will bark non-stop when they’re being introduced to visitors.

You don’t want your dog to be so fearful that it doesn’t enjoy visiting new places and making friends with new people and other dogs. Your dog should always be introduced to people it doesn’t know in a way that’s relaxed and doesn’t make him feel threatened.

Initiating Contact with A Cat

A cat needs to feel that it’s in control of its environment and should be the one to set the tone of the first encounter with a new person. The cat needs to feel that it’s the one in control of the situation and people involved, which will give it the confidence to feel comfortable in different situations. Children can seem intimidating to a cat when they move quickly or speak in a loud voice.

Initiating Contact with A Dog

When you have people coming to your home that aren’t familiar to your dog, your dog should be confined to another room until your guests are all seated. The person you are trying to acquaint your dog with should never speak to or approach the dog or attempt to start petting it.

The unfamiliar person should crouch down or stand sideways and not make eye contact with the dog. The idea is to overcome your dog’s shyness or fear of new people, so you shouldn’t reward it with treats until it responds favorably. The person you’re introducing your dog to should drop treats on the floor nearby or hold them out for your pup to investigate. When the dog feels comfortable and accepts the treats, it has made a new friend.

Letting the Dog or Cat Approach You

A cat feels comfortable around people that it doesn’t consider threatening. It’s important when meeting a timid cat for the first time to avoid eye contact and make yourself seem smaller by sitting or kneeling. Some cats feel more confident approaching strangers if they’re off the floor and sitting on a cat perch. One way to get a cat that’s fearful of having interaction with you is to slowly blink at the cat to show her you don’t intend to harm her. If a cat closes its eyes when it’s with you, that’s a sign that you’ve been accepted, and the cat feels comfortable in your presence.

When meeting a dog for the first time, let the dog initiate the contact and crouch down facing sideways. If a dog is timid, let it make the first move without extending your hand or speaking. Act as if you’re ignoring it until the dog feels that you’re a safe person.

If the dog is relaxed and confident, you can gently tap your leg while speaking to it and encouraging the dog to approach you. A friendly dog will approach a new person wagging their tail and exhibiting a relaxed body posture. If the dog makes eye contact with you, that’s an indication that more interaction is wanted.

How To Hold Your Hand Before Petting A Dog Or Cat

You should never reach for a cat or hold your hand over it. Extend a hand slowly and let the cat sniff it. If the cat feels comfortable around you and rubs against you, gently extend your hand and rub behind the cat’s ears with your fingers. When the cat rubs itself against you, that’s an indication that you may begin gently petting the cat.

When reaching over to pat a dog for the first time, never pass your hand over the dog’s head. Another point to remember is that many dogs don’t like being touched on these areas:

Where Most Dogs Are Comfortable Being Petted

Approach the dog from the side and gently pat it using a gentle scratching or massaging motion. Move your hand or fingers in the direction in which the coat lies. Dogs have different areas where they love to be petted including the chest, the base of their tail, the back of the neck, the shoulders, or under their chin.

Petting a dog the proper way can be relaxing and therapeutic for them and the person they’re interacting with. When a dog is completely relaxed with the person they’re interacting with; they may roll over on their back and offer their belly to be rubbed. This posture is a dog’s way of showing submission.

Offering A Treat

When meeting a timid cat or dog for the first time, they can feel more comfortable around you if you offer a toy to play with or a tasty treat. Some dogs get very excited when they’re meeting new friends. You can calm your pup down by showing the person you’re introducing them to some of your dog’s favorite tricks. Getting them to perform a few tricks to get one of their favorite treats is a distraction and will have a calming effect.

When meeting a cat for the first time, get down to the cat’s level. It can be difficult how to judge how a cat will react when meeting someone for the first time because their behavior can be unpredictable. The atmosphere in the room where the cat is siting should be relaxing. There shouldn’t be any loud noises, and if young children are present, they should be in another place while you and the cat are getting acquainted.

Paying attention to the cat’s body language is essential. Some cats are more interested in meeting new people if the person ignores them at first. The cat will be curious and approach you. You can extend your open hand to see if the cat will sniff it. You may have a treat in your hand to entice the cat. When the cat feels comfortable being around you, gently caress the back down to the base of the tail. Lightly scratch the face behind the cat’s whiskers, or at the bottom of the ears.

Reasons Why A Dog or Cat May Not Want to be Petted

Some dogs don’t care to be petted, and it may come from birth. Very independent dogs sometimes aren’t as affectionate as other dogs. They still love their owners but don’t require a lot of affection from their owners. Dogs with dominant personalities often prefer to be on their own. They enjoy the companionship of their owners but don’t need a lot of affection.

Some dogs that didn’t get a lot of affection when they were puppies, don’t respond well to petting as adults. Dogs that don’t respond well to love from their owners often like interactive play. Training, a lot of play, and delicious treats can help your relationship with dogs that don’t respond to a lot of affection.

Signs That Cats Don’t Want to be Petted

If a cat has its ears back against its head, or its tail is twitching, it’s an indication that the cat is telling you to back off. Fidgeting, growling or hissing are signs that cats don’t want to be petted. Cats like to keep to themselves and meet people on their terms, so you should respect their space.

Some cats get spooked easily and prefer sitting quietly with their owners and having an occasional scratch behind the ears rather than being picked up. Cats with a timid personality feel more secure merely spending time with their owners.

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