If your dog hits you when you pet it, you might be wondering why and what you can do about it. This post will show you five common reasons why dogs do it and what you can do to get it to stop.
So, why does my dog hit me when I pet it? Possible reasons why your dog hits you, when you pet it, are wanting you to stop, wanting you to continue, mimicking your own behavior, wanting you to pet it differently or having learned that the behavior is rewarded.
It is possible that there is a combination of causes at play. However, there are some things you can consider when figuring out the main causes and there are many things you can do about them.
Reasons why your dog hits you when you pet it
Below are a number of common causes and what would make each of them more likely to be the main reason.
It wants you to stop
The reason why it does it might be that it wants you to stop petting it. This would be more likely if it shows other signs of wanting you to stop such as pulling away from you, not wagging its tail or drawing its lips back.
The cause might also be that it has an injury and you’re hurting it by petting it. This would be more likely if it has started doing it suddenly, it has been trying to make you stop petting it and it has been showing other signs of being injured. In this case, the best option would be to take it to a vet.
It wants you to pet it more
The reason why it does it could also be to show you that it wants you to carry on petting it. This would be more likely if it puts its hits you when you stop. It would also be more likely if it shows positive signs when you are petting it such as wagging its tail, leaning into you and nudging its head onto your lap.
Encouraging the behavior
The cause might also be that it has learned that the behavior gets rewarded. If you tend to give it things such as extra attention, when it hits you with its paw, it will likely do it more in order to get more rewards.
It wants you to pet it differently
It could also be the case that it does it because it wants you to pet it differently or rub its belly. This would be more likely if it tries to roll onto its back when it hits you with its paw and if it is showing positive body language such as wagging its tail.
Things to consider
Below are some things to consider when figuring out the main reason why your dog has been doing it.
The body language it shows
It would help to consider the other body language signs your dog is showing when it does it.
If it is showing other signs of being happy such as leaning into you, wagging its tail and having a relaxed posture then it would be more likely to be doing it for a positive reason.
Whereas, if it shows signs of discomfort like pulling away, being stiff and not wagging its tail then it would be more likely that it wants you to stop.
What else happened when it first started doing it
If your dog did not always hit you when you pet it, it would help to consider what else happened when it first started doing it. If it started doing it suddenly, it could be due to things such as learning that the behavior gets rewarded, an injury or because you started petting it differently.
What is different when your dog hits you
If it does not always hit you, it would also help to consider what is different when it does it. For example, if it only does it when you pet it in a certain way, it would be more likely that it does it due to the way you are petting it.
What to do about your dog hitting you when you pet it
Below are some options you have when dealing with it.
Avoid encouraging it
As mentioned above, it might be the case that it has been doing it due to getting rewards when it does it. Instead, it would help to reward it when it behaves the way you want it to and to avoid rewarding it when it does not.
Allow it to continue
It is not unusual for dogs to hit their owners when being petted. If it seems to be doing it because it is imitating your own behavior and not due to something such as injury or wanting you to stop, it would likely be ok to allow it to continue.
Pet it more carefully
As mentioned above, it might be doing it because it wants you to stop. It would help to make sure that you have not been petting it too forcefully and to pet it gently instead. It might also help to try petting it with a different style to the way you normally pet it.
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