Do You “Pat a Dog” or “Pet a Dog”? (UK vs. US)

Animals are wonderful creatures, especially the ones we can form a relationship with. Dogs, for example, are called man’s best friends for a reason. This article discusses the phrases “pat a dog” and “pet a dog”.

Do You “Pat a Dog” or “Pet a Dog”?

You can either “pat a dog” or “pet a dog”. Both phrases are correct and are synonymous with one another. The difference between the two phrases is that “pat a dog” is more popular in the United Kingdom, while “pet a dog” is more popular in the United States.

pat a dog or pet a dog

The phrases “pat a dog” and “pet a dog” both mean the same thing. As such, they are interchangeable with one another.

Depending on whether you use British English or American English, one phrase is more commonly used than the other. “Pat a dog” is more popular in areas that use British English, while “pet a dog” is more popular in places that use American English.

The verbs “pat” and “pet” can also be correctly used when you want to talk about touching animals other than dogs, such as cats and horses.

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Pat a Dog

“Pat a dog” is one of the phrases you can use when describing touching a dog.

When you touch a dog, you can use the phrase “pat a dog”. You can also use the verb “pat” to describe touching other animals, such as horses.

Below are some examples of sentences that use the verb “pat” in reference to animals:

  1. I pat a dog that passed me on my run this morning.
  2. There was a sign outside the gate that read, “Don’t pat the dog; it will bite you.”
  3. Anne pat the horse before the race for good luck.
  4. Ryan got this scar from patting a wild dog in the forest.
  5. Therese usually shies away from patting any sort of animal.

Pet a Dog

When talking about touching a dog, one of the phrases you can use is “pet a dog”.

“Pet a dog” is a popular phrase commonly used to describe touching a dog. The verb “pet” can also be used in reference to other animals.

Below are some examples of sentences that use the verb “pet” to refer to dogs and other animals:

  1. We pet a dog in class this morning!
  2. At the petting zoo, we pet some ponies and lots of other animals.
  3. Don’t pet the dog without giving him some treats first, or else he’ll attack you.
  4. No, you can’t pet Hannah’s cat because it doesn’t like to be touched.
  5. Dogs and horses are some animals that like being petted.

Do You “Pat a Dog” or “Pet a Dog” In the US?

In the United States and in other areas that use American English, “pet a dog” is currently the more popularly used phrase, rather than “pat a dog”, according to data from Google Ngram Viewer.

Google Ngram Viewer is a tool we can use to compare how often phrases like “pat a dog” and “pet a dog” are used in a wide range of books.

pat a dog or pet a dog US

Based on data from books published between 1900 to 2019 that use American English, we can see that “pet a dog” is currently the more commonly used phrase.

However, it wasn’t always so. The phrase “pet a dog” only surpassed the popularity of “pat a dog” in the 1970s, around the year 1974. Prior to that, the phrase “pat a dog” was the more commonly used phrase.

Do You “Pat a Dog” or “Pet a Dog” In the UK?

Based on data from Google Ngram Viewer, the phrase “pat a dog” is more popular compared to “pet a dog” in the United Kingdom and in other places that use British English.

We can use Google Ngram Viewer to compare the frequency of usage of both “pat a dog” and “pet a dog” in books that use British English.

pat a dog or pet a dog UK

According to data from books published between 1900 to 2019, “pat a dog” is the more popular phrase in the United Kingdom and in other areas that use British English.

It is interesting to see that “pat a dog” has always been the more commonly used phrase in books that use British English since 1900, with the exception of a very brief period from around 2009 to 2014, where “pet a dog” was the more popular phrase.

Final Thoughts

When you talk about touching a dog, you can use the verbs “pat” and “pet”. “Pat the dog” is more commonly used in British English, while “pet the dog” is more common in American English. Both are grammatically correct. “Pat” and “pet” can also be used for other animals.