Take the Hint: How to Use the 5-Second Rule for Petting Dogs

Do you love to pet your dog? Does she love it too? Are you sure? Don’t be the guy who can’t take a hint! Part of BAT is understanding your dog’s cut-off signals, and if you are constantly petting her or him, it’s hard to see them.

Here’s a way to ask your dog if he or she likes the way you are petting. I call it the 5-second rule, and every person who interacts with a dog, cat, or even horse should know it, because it’s excellent bite prevention and also just basic polite manners!

1. Wait for the dog to interact with you, scratching the body part that is closest to you first, like the dog’s side.
2. Pet for no more than 5 seconds (less if the dog is shy or not in your family)
3. Stop and wait for the dog to turn or move toward you, asking for more.
4. Repeat steps 2 and 3, alternating between petting and waiting.

You also need a way to tell your dog to stop asking for petting. If you are done and the dog is still interested, give an All Done hand signal. For example, I usually show the dog that my hands are empty. After the All Done signal, the dog for a little bit so that the meaning of All Done is clear.

Tips and Ilustrations are from the Official Ahimsa Dog Training Manual, available on FunctionalRewards, Dogwise, Amazon, etc. Tips by Grisha Stewart, illustrations by Lili Chin.