Why Do Dogs like Belly Rubs?

Why Do Dogs Like Belly Rubs?

In any love relationship, cuddling is one of the most beautiful things that strengthens the bond between lovers. The connection that is created between lovers starts with a basic kiss and strengthens as the relationship grows. Similarly, your dog requires an intense kind of affection and affinity with you. So why do dogs like belly rubs I hear you ask. When the dog lays over and shows you their belly, they are choosing to trust the dog owner completely, and also, they are deciding to commit to a deeper relationship with you. However, not all dogs love to see their tummies rubbed. Hence, it is vital to know the kinds of affection that will make your dog drool over you or the type that will make him mad at you. So, if you’re ready to make your pooch fall in love with you, read this article.

Dog cuddling on the sofa

Why Do Dogs Like Tummy Rubs?

There are several reasons to explain this phenomenon. Let’s take a look.

  • Scientific basis

Dogs and other animals have a distinct brain neuron, and the neuron corresponds to the acceleration of their hair follicles. When you begin rubbing dog’s belly, also stroke its hair – this gives a unique kind of stimulation in the pooch’s brain. This kind of brain stimulation is at best feasible when your dog strokes his hair, which means petting, just like tummy rubbing, makes your dog very satisfied.

  • To itch their backs

Dogs have a hard time scratching their bellies; hence, they depend on the people around them to help them itch their tummies. Dogs may scratch their faces, necks, and probably shoulders by using their feet. However, they can’t scratch their bellies and as such, need human assistance. Imagine how lovely it feels for your loved one to scratch a part of your body you can’t reach. It is a wonderful feeling, and dogs do enjoy it as well.

  • Your dog trusts you

If a dog sleeps on his back and shows their tummy to you, it is an indication that your dog completely has confidence in you. Your dog’s body position leaves them vulnerable when you are rubbing their tummy, and they trust you not to exploit their frailty.

  • To strengthen the bond

When you rub your dog’s tummy, it strengthens the emotional bond or connection between you and the pooch.

Signs That Your Dog Wants a Tummy Rub

It is not every action or inaction of your dog that is an invitation for you to rub his belly. Your dog will expose their tummies to you primarily for two reasons: a demand for a tummy rub and a submissive expression. As such, it is vital to understand the signal your dog is communicating to you before you start petting. Dogs employ a submissive expression to show that they won’t hurt you or you’re not in danger. Hence, petting your dog who displays submissive expressions will make your dog anxious and tense because your dog is being touched in certain powerless part of the body.

These are the five signs that indicate that your dog needs a belly rub.

  • When your dog displays loose body demeanor or makes restless movements.
  • When your dog opens his mouth with their tongue sticking out.
  • When your dog has squinting eyes.
  • When your dog has a swinging tail.
  • When your dog is panting slightly.

Woman cuddling the dog

How to Best Rub Your Dog’s Belly

A dog owner can give his dog the most amazing belly rub ever by learning these few tips.

  • Observe the body posture stated above to see if the dog wants a rub on his tummy.
  • Get on your knees. Relax your body posture.
  • Begin to rub the tummy.
  • After a few seconds, cease rubbing.
  • Watch your dog’s next reaction or move. If your dog paws and stays calm where he is, then it is a signal that he wants more. However, if your dog stands up and walks away, then the belly rubbing is over.
  • Try using an alternative style of petting and observe the varied results at the end. You will be astonished to discover a new kind of tummy rub that the dog will enjoy more.

Why Does Your Dog Kick His Legs While Getting a Tummy Rub?

You may have witnessed your dog throwing up his leg in the air during a dog belly rub. Well, the kicking is caused by involuntary action. It is referred to as the scratch reflex and is grown in your dog to better defend him against irritants, especially on his body. A group of neural plasticity or pathways links your pooch’s spinal cord, and when switched on, the pathways provide data to your dog’s brain to throw his leg or kick. This action is involuntary and protects your dog from harm. Your dog’s spinal cord instructs his leg to begin to kick, but the brain has the final say.

If He Doesn’t Enjoy It, Don’t Force Him

While the majority of pets enjoy a lovely belly rub, it must be said that dog bellying rub is not for every dog. If you coerce your dog to lie on his back, you may be creating a nervous behavioral pattern in your dog. You will lose your dog’s trust if you compel your dog to undertake certain actions he is not comfortable with doing. So, to begin rubbing your dog, you need to observe the signs above to make sure your dog is ready and comfortable with belly rubbing. If he is not ready or interested, don’t force him; rather, you gradually grow his interest in belly rubbing.

Cuddling a dog

To Summarize

In summary, every pet enjoys the love, affection, and cuddling with their owners. Hence, finding what kind of petting makes your dog tickle is crucial in getting them to enjoy the experience and also deepen the bond between both of you. However, not every pet enjoys tummy rubs, and most dog owners do not like rubbing their dog’s belly either. Some dogs will walk away when you try to rub their belly as such if you understand your pooch’s body posture, you will give him a belly rub that will leave him coming for more.


  1. Laurie L. Dove, Why Dogs Love Belly Rubs, Cats Not So Much, HowStuffWorks

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