Why Do Dogs Like Belly Rubs?
Why do dogs like belly rubs? There are many reasons why your dog enjoys getting belly rubs so much, including the fact that it feels so good to them! (link) (link) (link) (link) (link)
Busy? Get Your Hands Paws On The Answers Quickly…
8 Reasons Why Your Dog Wants Belly Rubs
1. Feels Good
Scientists believe that when a dog gets a belly rub, it sets off a specific reaction in their brain caused by the hair follicles' movement on their belly. Belly rubs simply feel great to dogs!
2. Social Grooming
Social grooming is a behavior in which animals help to maintain one other appearance. Dogs enjoy social grooming. Dogs are descended from wolves, and in the wild, wolves will groom each other with their tongues. By you petting your dog, it is like you are grooming them and showing them affection.
If your dog rolls over and shows their belly to you to rub, that is a big sign that your dog trusts you. When your dog has their belly up, they expose the area where all their major organs are. This is a very vulnerable position, so if your dog shows you their stomach, it means they trust you. Your dog may be showing you just how comfortable and safe they feel around you as they get a good belly rub.
4. Getting a Good Scratch
If a dog has an itch, they can usually reach it with their foot, but the belly is hard for them to scratch on their own. If they have an itch on their tummy and you give them a belly rub, it makes that itching go away.
When you rub your dogs belly, endorphins are released, which is the brain's feel-good chemical. Their levels of oxytocin, the bonding hormone, increases. So they are getting mental feedback that belly rubs are making them happy, and they want to keep that feeling up. Also, they love their person (or people), so the release of oxytocin makes them feel even closer to you.
When you rub your dog's belly, they feel so safe and content with you. Belly rubbing is a very comforting activity. This can help to relieve any anxiety or stress that your dog may be experiencing.
This is also just another way your dog likes to show you how comfortable they are to be a part of your family. It also seems that dogs will roll over for a belly rub near those they are most comfortable with.
7. Need for Touch
Dogs are very social animals. When dogs play with one another, they are often very "paws on". They crave frequent interaction with the members of their "pack"- and that includes you. Dogs (and people!) are high touch creatures, and they crave the touch of others.
8. Good for Their Health
While dogs may not realize this while it is happening when dogs get a belly rub, their heart rate and blood pressure lowers, which is excellent for their health. (And a bonus for us- when we pet our dogs, our blood pressure levels may also go down.)
Does My Dog Like Belly Rubs?
Not all dogs love stomach rubs. On the other hand, some dogs love belly rubs and would lay there all day, getting their bellies rubbed if they could.
So how can you tell if your dog is enjoying their belly rub or not?
Signs Your Dog Is Loving Belly Rubs:
Tongue hanging out
Bright eyes that are not necessarily staring at anything
A relaxed and wagging tail
Light panting or a soft vocalization sound
Signs Your Dog Is Not Enjoying Belly Rubs:
Tense during the belly rub
Wide eyes during a rub
Licking lips during a rub
"Pushing" you away to get more space
If your dog does not seem to enjoy belly rubs, that is entirely normal.
Like people, dogs have different likes and dislikes, and they have other ways to show their affection. And don't worry- just because your dog doesn't like their belly rubbed doesn't mean that they don't love or trust you. It is merely their personal preference!
Submission Or Belly Rubs?
Often, when a dog lies on their back and shows their belly, people just assume this is because they want a belly rub, but sometimes they expose their stomach to show they are not a threat.
Dogs will sometimes show their bellies in what is called a "submissive display." They may do this when trying to diffuse tension or to show others that they are not a threat. And if you give a dog belly rubs when they are in a submissive display, it may make your dog feel even more nervous.
Signs of Submission:
Tense, frozen body posture
Lips closed or pulled back
Showing the whites of their eyes
Wide eyes staring into the distance
How To Give Your Dog The Best Belly Rubs
It is easy to give a great belly rub that your dog will enjoy. Just follow these five easy steps.
1. Ensure your dog is showing signs that they want to get a belly rub (like lying on their back in a relaxed manner, with an open mouth, wide eyes, and wagging tail).
2. Get down to their level and keep your body language relaxed.
3. Now it is time to go for it and rub your dog's belly!
4. After about five seconds, stop petting and see what your dog does. If your dog gets up, then that is your sign that they are done with belly rubs for now.
5. But if they stay in that position or try to paw you to get you to keep rubbing their belly, then you can go in for more belly rubs!
Try different petting when rubbing your dog's belly- with your whole hand, gently with your nails, in a circular motion, patting their tummy lightly, etc.- and see what your dog likes the best.
There may be a new way of giving belly rubs that you haven't tried before but that your dog will absolutely love.
Why do dogs like belly rubs but cats don't?
Cats are descended from big predators, who, in the wild, don't like to expose their bellies and their vital organs. The hair follicles on cats' bellies are also more sensitive, and because of that, they simply don't find belly rubs as enjoyable as dogs do.
Why do cats bite you when you rub their bellies?
Cats have very sensitive hair follicles on their bellies, and they are easy to stimulate. This can cause your cat to bite you or kick you with their back legs as a way of telling you that they are not enjoying the belly rub.
How do you tell if a dog loves you?
Even though dogs can't speak to tell us that they love us, there are still many ways that your dog's show you that they love you. Here are the top signs that veterinarians say your dog does to show you that they love you:
Guarding you or always wanting to be with you
Herding you (this is mostly seen in breeds like collies or shepherds)
Rubbing their face on yours
Gazing deeply into your eyes
Sharing their toys with you
Knowing when you need comfort- and providing you with comfort
Recognizes your name (and gets excited when they hear it)
Sleeping near you
Gets excited when you get home
Carries your shoes or socks around
If you are looking for more reading on this topic, please check out our article How To Make A Dog Like You, Love You, Trust You, and Respect You
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Disclaimer: Each dog is different, and every circumstance is different. All efforts have been made to provide accurate information. However, it is not provided by a qualified Veterinarian, Veterinarian Surgeon, or Behaviorist. The information provided is purely educational. The information should not be used as an alternative or substitute for medical care. If you have any health or medical concerns, contact a qualified Veterinary Surgeon or Veterinarian immediately.