Where Do Labs Like to be Pet?

where do labs like to be pet

Where do Labs like to be pet? I love Labrador Retrievers, like pretty much everyone else in the world! Look at any list of the most popular dog breeds, and you’ll see Labs on it. Whether you own one of these loving, friendly pets, or you can’t wait to meet one out on a walk, learning how these dogs like to be cuddled and pet is a great piece of knowledge to have! So, in this guide, I’ll explain whether all Labradors enjoy the same types of cuddles, some favorite canine scratch-spots, and places I’d generally recommend avoiding.


Labs Have Unique Personalities

Before getting into the details of what Labradors like or do not like when getting pet, it is essential to remember that all dogs are different. Just like people, Labs have unique personalities.

Some dogs love to be in the middle of the action and get all the attention. Other dogs prefer to remain at a distance with minimal interaction. One dog may love to get hugged and snuggle on the sofa, while another dog may only tolerate a gentle pat on the head. If you meet a new Labrador, you should check first with their owner that they’re happy to have cuddles. If they’re a nervous dog, the owner might prefer that you stay back to avoid stressing out the pup.

Where do Labs Like to be Pet?

With that said, there are some places where virtually all Labs love to get a pet or scratch. These include the upper chest, tail base, shoulders, and behind the ears. Dogs can’t easily reach these places by themselves. So, they appreciate a scratch from a helpful hand.

where do labs like to be pet

Places Your Lab Might Like a Scratch

Some places can be hit or miss when petting your pooch. Gently and slowly test them out on your dog while watching for the reaction. If you get a positive one, then keep going! If you get a negative one, then move on to somewhere else.

You can try giving their head a rub or scratch. If the dog closes its eyes or moves its head away, they probably don’t enjoy it. Many dogs don’t want their face touched because they are afraid you will touch their eyes, nose, or mouth. A dog depends on these to navigate the world, so they don’t want you messing with them. Especially if they don’t know you well!

Some Labradors love to have their ears gently stroked or rubbed. Other dogs hate it. If your pup moves its head away, they are not a fan of this type of petting. Similarly, some dogs like a gentle chin rub, while others prefer that you not. If you rub a lab’s chin and they immediately lower its head, they want you to stop. Getting a chin rub requires the dog to raise its head and lose sight of you. This requires a lot of trust on the dog’s part. If the lab doesn’t know you, they probably don’t trust you.

What About Belly Rubs?

There is a time to rub a dog’s belly, and there is a time to stay away. If you have a relationship with your Lab and they are accustomed to belly rubs, they may roll over on their back and ask for a belly rub. In this situation, feel free to reach out and give your pup’s belly a good rub.

In contrast, the rollover may mean something different if you have just met the dog or are in a public place. Rolling over on its back is a dog’s motion for submission. They aren’t asking for a belly rub; they are showing that you are in control. It is probably best to avoid a belly rub in this situation.

Places to Avoid

It is best to avoid the places on a dog where most Labs do not want a petting. These are places like the tail, paws, and legs. A dog’s tail is its communication tool. You petting it or holding on to it effectively mutes the dog. No one likes to feel like they can’t communicate, including your Labrador. A dog’s paws and legs are its ability to move and run. You petting them can make them feel insecure or vulnerable. Signs that a dog isn’t enjoying the affection include:

  • Moving away from you
  • Exposing their teeth
  • Tail tucked between their legs
  • Growling or snarling
  • Hackles raised
  • Whale eye

Do Labrador Retrievers Like to Cuddle?

Despite the Lab’s working dog history, they make fantastic family pets. While every dog has preferences, many Labradors love to cuddle and lounge on the sofa. Consider this bonding time for your lab.

Dogs are pack animals, so dogs consider your family’s human members to be its pack. They want to spend time with pack members and show their love. This breed’s gentle nature makes them perfect family dogs, often seen sprawled out on the floor taking a nap with the children.

Gauge your Lab’s reaction to different types of cuddling. Some dogs are happy to lay next to you and rest their head on your lap. Others want more and are pleased to accept full hugs. Finally, there are the ones you see on social media that act like humans! They cuddle up and spoon on the sofa or in bed with their human owners.

How to Pet a Labrador

Sometimes, it isn’t about where you pet but how you pet. For example, avoid reaching out and directly over the dog’s head. Instead, come in from the side. This is a much less threatening approach. When petting your dog, use a soft and gentle touch. Move your hand in the direction that the hair grows. Long gentle strokes with the palm of your hand or fingertips work well.

Avoid repeated patting, similar to what you see toddlers or small children do. Dogs universally do not appreciate this type of petting. Some tolerate it better than others.

The Labrador Handbook by Pippa Mattinson

Never slap a dog. While you may think this is fun roughhousing, your Lab may feel like it is getting hit, not pet. Finally, keep your energy calm. This helps your pup stay calm and enjoy the experience. Aggressive, hard, and fast petting can overstimulate the dog.

Where Do Labs Like to be Pet? A Summary

With my tips in mind, it is time for the best part, petting a Lab! Start slow and introduce yourself to the dog. Then move your hand to the most commonly-preferred spots and give the dog a gentle rub. Before you know it, you will have a new best friend who’s ready for pets whenever you want to give them!

Learning More About Your Labrador

The Labrador Site Founder

Pippa Mattinson is the best selling author of The Happy Puppy Handbook, the Labrador Handbook, Choosing The Perfect Puppy, and Total Recall.

She is also the founder of the Gundog Trust and the Dogsnet Online Training Program 

Pippa's online training courses were launched in 2019 and you can find the latest course dates on the Dogsnet website


  1. Informative. Labs are far more sociable. They love to enjoy spending time to stay within humans.  As a result, I feel they are appropriate for all environments and quite handy for every owner.