Belly rubs are the universal love language for dogs. It’s widely known that canines are obsessed with having their bellies massaged. But the question is this: why do dogs like their bellies rubbed? According to experts, it has a lot to do with comfort and submissive display. In this post, I will tackle this topic to give you more understanding of why dogs like such stimulation. Also, I included some tips on how to give the best belly rubs for your pooch!
Why do dogs like their bellies rubbed?
Belly rubs have been a widely discussed topic among experts. Some discourage it, while others don’t see any problem indulging your dog to a good scratch. But in case you’re wondering why canines love belly rubs so much, the following are the likely reasons:
🐶It’s a comforting experience.
For the most part, belly rubs are comforting for canines. It’s like receiving a massage that delivers a uniquely satisfying sensation to your dog.
Moreover, belly rubs are seen as a great bonding moment between the dog and a person. Also, it shows how comfortable a dog is to a specific person.
A dog’s belly is one of the most vulnerable parts of its body. The pooch will not dare show it to anyone unless he’s sure of his safety. It’s also something pet owners take pride in. It proves that the dog welcomes them as a part of the pack.
🐶They like a good scratch.
Since dogs don’t have arms and fingers as we do, they find it hard to scratch itchy parts of their bodies. For one, it’s almost impossible for them to scratch an itch in the middle of their bellies.
This is the reason why your dog will bare its belly to you for a nice scratching session. This is much prevalent among breeds with short legs like Corgis and Bulldogs.
While dogs have a way of scratching themselves, they sometimes need some help. This is why you’ll see dogs rubbing their bodies along a hedge or a rough wall.
However, intense itching in the belly can be a sign of a parasitic infestation. So as you stroke your doggo’s belly, you should also check for signs of ticks and fleas. Usually, black specks are indicative of an ongoing infestation.
🐶It solicits undivided attention.
Another reason why dogs are excited about belly rubs is because of the attention that comes with them. When you kneel down to rub your dog’s belly, you’re giving the pooch the attention it wants. Somehow, you’re also reinforcing the behavior.
It’s possible that belly rubs often lead to playtime, which is why your dog uses it to engage your attention.
Companion dogs like Bulldogs and Golden Retrievers are the ones extremely obsessed over belly rubs. It’s one way for them to bond with their owner and solicit more attention. Some dogs would even beg for belly rubs from strangers out of sheer friendliness.
🐶It just feels good!
There’s still a lot unknown about the belly rub mystery, but one thing is for sure: dogs like it because it feels great. For most pet owners, that’s more than enough reason to indulge their doggos with much-deserved belly rubs and pets.
🐶Dogs have been conditioned to like it.
Meanwhile, anthrozoology expert Christine Case argued that belly rubs stemmed from how humans modified canine behavior due to domestication.
Rolling on their back and showing their bellies are dogs’ ways of exhibiting submissive behavior towards humans. It’s your dog’s way of saying that he means no harm.
With this, it can be difficult to assess whether dogs truly like belly rubs or if they were just trained to like so.
🐶It’s submissive behavior.
Dogs show their bellies for a rub as an exhibit of submissiveness. As pack beings, canines establish a hierarchy, wherein humans can either be at the top or bottom of the rankings.
🐶It might be a defense tactic.
Researchers also considered the possibility that dogs roll on their backs not to get belly rubs but to evade attacks from an aggressor. This can also happen when a domesticated canine is trying to avoid playful bites from another pet.
Trying to rub your dog’s belly, in this case, may end up in defensive scratches and bites. If you see that your pet’s teeth are bared, it’s best to take a step back.
Should I rub a dog’s belly?
There’s some sort of argument about whether you should rub your dog’s belly or not. Personally, I think it won’t hurt as long as it’s not forced. If your dog’s body language indicates happiness or satisfaction during the belly rub, it’s safe to say that the pooch enjoys the interaction.
However, if your dog exhibits signs of discomfort or aggression, you should stop the belly rub right away. Signs like tucking its tail between the legs or hunching up indicates that your dog doesn’t like the belly rub.
Aside from that, your dog may not want to expose its belly to unfamiliar surroundings. For example, trying to rub your dog’s belly in the doggy daycare or other outdoor settings may result in aggressive reactions. This is due to the potential harm your dog perceives.
Also, if the belly rub triggers negative behavior, you should never tolerate it. In the end, it’s all about observing your dog’s body language.
Signs that your dog wants a belly rub:
- Wiggly body and tail
- Squinty or open, bright eyes
- Open and relaxed mouth
- In some cases, the tongue is flopping around
- Light panting sound
How to give a nice belly rub to a dog
Is your Bulldog obsessed with belly rubs? Here’s the right way of giving the most satisfying scratch for your pooch. However, you should check first if your dog wants the belly rub in the first place. Once your pooch is onboard, here’s what you need to do:
- Kneel down. You’d want to be on the same level as your dog. Looming over will frighten the pooch.
- Start rubbing the belly. With an open palm, start rubbing your dog’s belly slowly. Try patting and circular motions as a start.
- Stop and observe. After a few seconds, stop the belly rub and see how your dog will react. If the dog gets up and leaves, it’s a sign that belly rubs are done. However, if the pooch stays in place and paws at you, it means that he wants more.
- Experiment with the strokes. Some dogs like rough belly rubs, especially big breeds. However, others prefer a slow, massaging effect. Try experimenting with how you do belly rubs and see which your dog will tend to like more.
- Make your dog work for the belly rub. One way to make belly rub rewarding in terms of training is to make your dog work for it. You can ask your pet to sit or lie down before giving the belly rub. This way, you’re also reinforcing basic obedience training.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Why does my dog roll on his back when I approach him?
A: Dogs will usually roll on their back to seek attention or belly rubs from a person. It’s also a sign that a dog trusts you since exposing its belly is a vulnerable position. Overall, this is a positive display that might be your dog’s way of initiating playtime or simply earning some belly scratches.
Q: Why do dogs like being petted?
A: The sensation of pets is comforting for canines. It’s like receiving a reassuring massage from a person you trust. Since dogs can’t talk, physical touch is their way of communicating. Petting and belly rubs are just some of those.
Q: How will I know if my dog is happy?
A: A partially open mouth and relaxed ears are initial signs that a dog is in good mood. A relaxed tail and raised head are also good signs to look for. Also, dogs with whole-body wiggles are often happy canines who are excited to meet a person or another animal.
Q: What does it mean when a dog lays on top of you?
A: If your pooch lays on your chest, it’s a sign that the two of you have a close bond. This is a vulnerable position for a canine, so it just means that the pooch trusts you. However, it’s a different story if your dog stands on top of your chest. Such a gesture is a sign of dominance you should never tolerate.
Q: Is it bad to rub a dog’s belly?
A: A belly rub wouldn’t hurt a dog as long as it’s welcomed by the pooch. It’s often a sign that the dog trusts you and sees you as part of the family. Some experts discourage belly rubs, but it all boils down to the dog’s body language and overall personality.
Q: Why do dogs kick you when you rub their belly?
A: Kicking as you rub its belly is an involuntary response from your dog. It’s much like the knee-jerk reflex in humans whenever a doctor taps into our knee. As you rub your dog’s belly, you’re also tickling some of the nerves responsible for the kicking motion.
Why do dogs like their bellies rubbed? This gesture is often comforting and relaxing for canines. Also, dogs know that belly rub earn them the undivided attention of their owners. But in some cases, showing their bellies is a submissive behavior, which canines do in front of their alphas.
Does your pet love belly rubs, too? Share your experience with us in the comment section!