How to Pet Your Labrador – Five Effective Tips

So, why is it important to learn how to pet your Labrador Retriever?

Well, we all know that dogs, as long-term companions, often experience their fair share of snuggling and petting from their owners and even other people.

But, not all dogs are comfortable with being touched just about any way. Even well-mannered Labs can act strangely whenever they are not comfortable with the situation or do not like to handled.

When you live with small children or older people that can easily hurt, it is even more important to learn the proper ways of how to pet your Labrador.

While petting may be an afterthought in the overall care and well-being of your Labrador, it is still important to retain a semblance of comfort for them.

As a pet owner, you have to ensure that your Lab is comfortable and generally happy with how you are petting them.

Of course, not all pets made the same. Some might like being petted a certain way and in a certain area, while some might not like it as much. However, there are certain rules of thumbs that you can follow to make sure that your Lab is more comfortable in your home and in your arms.

We’re sharing what these suggestions are below, so let’s get to it.

1. Let them initiate.

One of the common mistakes that people make in petting a Labrador is approaching them without the dog doing it first.

Think of it as a form of consent. A dog who agrees and wants to be pet will approach with little reservation and will generally be okay with it.

However, going in first without allowing your Labrador Retriever to assess the situation may cause them to get startled or try to get away from you.

In these cases, don’t force yourself upon your Labrador. They will come around in their own time.

On the other hand, the reason why some pets don’t like to petted may also be because they are shyer than others.

Although Labradors are generally outgoing and like to socialize, you still have to take into consideration their personal attitudes.

If you are not the owner of the Lab, or if you are someone unfamiliar to a Labrador, it’s best to ask the owner about them first to check if they are open to being petted by strangers.

2. Avoid looking threatening when you pet your Lab.

Some dogs may treat being approached as a threatening situation, and their instincts of getting away may surface.

This doesn’t mean that they will lash out at the approaching person. It just means that they will probably be uncomfortable in the situation and not want to petted.

One thing you can do is to not hover over the dog. Instead, just squat down and wait for them to come or approach you.

Hovering over your Labrador Retriever will make you look like a threatening figure and will not give positive results. Going down lower will make you less of a threat.

You can move a little bit to the side to make sure that you are not facing your Lab fully. This will help them adjust to you as a friendly figure.

For you to pet a Labrador effectively, you should look friendly and not at all intimidating.

3. Before you pet your Labrador, try to figure out if they reserved or outgoing.

Of course, personality has a lot to do with how dogs want to petted and when.

If you own a Lab, you will probably be able to determine how reserved or outgoing they are. Then, you can inform people that your dog is like this because they are shy and vice versa.

When a Labrador is shy, you can invite them slowly and wait for them to approach you. Remember to not look threatening.

On the other hand, outgoing Labs need less timid actions. You can crouch or bend your knees to come down a bit and then call them.

You can do this by patting your legs or some other gesture. They will come to you when they are willing.

4. Get to know them a little bit.

Some dogs have preferences with regard to petting.

Some may prefer to petted in a certain area and not in another area. Meanwhile, another dog may like the complete opposite.

The point is that dogs have their individual wants.

Getting to know these wants will help you figure out how to pet your Labrador Retriever.

As a pet owner, you should take the time to figure out what your Lab likes to ensure that they are comfortable with what you are doing.

For example, Labs (in general) won’t like being hugged around the neck or having their faces disturbed. You need to get a good grasp of these specific preferences so you won’t make mistakes with your Lab in the future.

Petting your Lab in long strokes also helps. Avoid petting them in pats on the head as they may not like that.

Of course, you should still try and figure out which style your Labrador likes the most, as no two dogs are exactly the same when it comes to what they need and want.

5. Talk to your family and friends about how to pet your Labrador.

If you have family living with you or friends that are always over, you should inform them of your Lab’s preferences.

If you are dealing with kids, it’s best to warn them ahead of time that they cannot do this or do that.

These warnings will be extremely helpful in avoiding dangerous situations with your Lab. Your Labrador may agitated or uncomfortable when petted in the wrong way, so that is also something that you should look out for.

Giving your family and friends the right information will help them bond with your Lab as well! It is an opportunity for them and your pet to have fun together in a peaceful and amicable way.

In the same vein, when the Lab is not yours or is unfamiliar, you should talk to the owner if they have specific needs. This way, you can avoid accidentally agitating or annoying the Labrador.


Petting a Labrador is fun and an overall engaging task. They love being petted so long as you doing it the right way. 

Remember, however, that not all dogs operate the same. Try to keep the abovementioned tips in mind, and you should be ready to go!

Authored By

John Lab

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