Just as we humans can be annoyed by certain touches, dogs can react similarly. Some dogs don’t mind being petted on the head while others dislike it, sometimes intensely.
Here are several reasons why dogs can be annoyed by head petting.
It disrupts the view of their surroundings.
It can blur their vision.
Some people are too exuberant when petting dogs on the head and can actually cause discomfort.
Head petting can be viewed by the dog as a threatening gesture. If it’s a sudden pat on the head, it can startle the dog and be frightening.
Some dogs will react aggressively with a warning growl or snap at the offender.
Dogs who have been abused are often struck in the head area and will not want to be touched there.
We often bend over the dog to pet the head which can be viewed as an aggressive act on your part.
My pit bull mix, Murphy, hates to be petted on the head. She will jerk or duck her head to show her displeasure. While they don’t protest, my other dogs don’t seem to mind pats on the head. But I wonder if they really enjoy it or are just tolerating the pats.
Most dogs enjoy being petted elsewhere on their bodies so much more than head pets. A rub under the chin, on the chest, scratching the back especially near the tail are much more pleasurable. And don’t forget those belly rubs and scratches behind the ears.
Learn your dog’s body language to assess whether it’s enjoyable for him/her to have head pats.
Be especially alert when you are not familiar with a dog you are about to pet. Always ask the owner for permission. Allow the dog to sniff you before touching.