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Where to Pet a Dog to Make it Fall Asleep

Golden Retriever getting head rubbed

Although it doesn’t happen to all of them, many dogs can have difficulties while sleeping. Senior canines are more vulnerable to this problem because of their sore muscles and other medical issues, like arthritis. Any disturbance to your dog’s sleep can also affect your sleeping cycle and health. Therefore, the comfortable sleep of your dog is as important for you as it is for your pup.

How to Pet a Dog to Sleep

One of the efficient ways to improve your canine’s sleep is to massage his/her tired muscles. The main idea of these petting techniques is to relax the tired body of your dog. Not only does this improve his/her sleep, but it also gives a boost to the overall mobility of your pup.

In addition to physical fatigue, mental anxiety can also disrupt the sleeping routine of a dog. If the sleeping issues are persisting for some time, the thought of uncomfortable sleep can also be stressful. Fortunately, a relaxing massage can also be helpful to counter this issue, but it may take some time. The following are a couple of ways to pet a dog to make it fall asleep.

Pet One Side of Your Dog

dog laying on bed

This technique is useful for massaging a dog who lies on his/her side. The details of this procedure are explained below.

  • Start the process by preparing the canine (and the room) to sleep. Dim the lights and get your dog to lie down in his/her bed. Make sure that there are NO loud noises around the room.
  • Once the dog has settled (and is lying on his/her side), start rubbing its tummy in one direction. It’s recommended to progress slowly, especially if your pup is not used to bedtime petting.
  • When the pup seems calm and relaxed, start massaging the opposite side of the head. After that, gently (small, circular motions) pet his/her ears and jowls.
  • Now, you are all set to turn your attention to the dog’s neck. Carefully massage the neck with the help of similar strokes and make sure that your canine is comfortable.
  • Lastly, it’s time to ease the tension from the legs and paws of your pup. For this purpose, gently pull the muscles on the legs down towards the paws. Then, take the paws in your hand and massage them.
  • Most of the dogs will be feeling extremely relaxed at this time. However, some canines can require additional attention. If that’s the case with your dog, start rubbing his/her tummy again and repeat the process.       

Pet Your Dog from Ears to Tail

yellow Labrador laying on a dog bed

This method is more suitable when both sides of your pet are available for massage. Follow the steps mentioned below to calm down your dog and make it fall asleep.  

  • The first step is again to prepare the dog for bed and create a comfortable ambiance for sleeping. Relaxing scents or soft music could prove quite helpful in this regard.
  • Start the petting routine by massaging behind the ears of your pup. Use small circular motions and slowly progress towards the tips of the ears. Make sure that the strokes are slow and soothing.
  • After that, work your hands down to your dog’s neck. Pet the neck muscles around the base of the head before moving down towards his/her chest and back. Use long strokes for massaging the neck.
  • Once you reach the back, revert to the small circular motions. Try to relax the muscles along either side of the backbone and down the sides.
  • In the end, you will come towards the leg muscles that are probably most sore after an active day. Now, try to ease the tension by petting your dog from the top of each leg to the paw. Once again, you will need long strokes to create a soothing sensation. However, you can also make small circles with your thumb for offering additional comfort.

Key Points to Remember While Petting a Dog to Sleep

Jack Russell Terrier asleep in owners arms
  • Make sure that the dog is in his/her own bed while petting. This will make sure that he/she doesn’t have to get up to go to sleep.
  • If any particular part of your dog’s body is sore or swollen, give it some extra attention.
  • You can also use coconut oil for massaging your pup, especially if he/she is experiencing dry skin or an allergy. Itchy skin can also affect your dog’s sleep.
  • Ensure a play session right before bedtime to tire your canine. This is because a drained dog is more likely to lie down and relax while you massage him/her.


Just like humans, sleep-deprived dogs can be frustrated and aggressive. Sore muscles can hamper their sleeping routine, but you can always pet a dog to make it fall asleep. Therefore, it is important to make them relaxed and comfortable to ensure a good night’s sleep.  

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