Why Do Dogs | Why Do Dogs Like Belly Rubs

Do dogs get pleasure from belly rubs? why do dogs like belly rubs? why do dogs like their belly rubbed? Do dogs like belly rubs or are they being submissive? why do dogs love belly rubs?

These are some of the questions most dog owners really want answers to. Dogs do love belly rubs because it makes them feel good as it triggers a specific reaction in the brain in response to the stimulation of their hair follicles. Some dogs like belly rub just like they do enjoy playing fetch or chewing on a really good bone, yet others could go without the show of human affection.

It is believed that dogs generally love petting and especially belly rubs and this is closely linked to bonding and social grooming – (grooming is the hygienic care and cleaning of a dog, as well as a process by which a dog’s physical appearance is enhanced for showing or other types of competition). Belly rubbing is really a comforting action.

Rolling on the back is not only a submissive behaviour in dogs but also a sign of trust that your dog has for you and a possible request for a belly rub. Back rolling also puts your dog in a vulnerable position but in exchange for a belly rub, your dog wouldn’t mind showing you this vulnerability.

Submissiveness or Belly Rub Request?

As earlier emphasized, dogs do not only expose their bellies for rubs. It could be a sign of something else entirely, so you have to know what exactly your dog’s intention is when they expose their bellies. Below are some clues to look out for in terms of vocalization, eyes, mouth, and tail, to know if your dog wants a belly rub;

  • Vocalizations: quiet ha-ha sound as they “laugh,” or a light panting sound, or silent
  • Eyes: Open or squinty, bright, and not necessarily staring at anything
  • Mouth: relaxed, open mouth—you might see their tongue flopping around
  • Overall: loose, wiggly body postures
  • Tail: relaxed, wagging tail

When a dog is showing submissive or appeasing behaviour, here are some clues to look out for;

  • Vocalizations: Quiet or soft whining
  • Eyes: wide open and staring into the distance, or showing the whites of their eyes as they look at you, without turning their head, or eyes will be squinty and tense
  • Mouth: lips pulled far back in a “fear grimace” or lips and mouth closed, may see lots of lip-licking and tongue-flicking
  • Overall: tense, low body postures—they may crouch, freeze, or tense up
  • Tail: May be still or wagging, but will have tension in the base of the tail and the tail may be tucked

N/B: A wagging tail doesn’t equal a happy dog. A tucked, stiff, fast tail wag is not the same as a full-body, loose-tail wag.

Why do dogs like belly rubs?

The answer to this would have been pretty much easy to have if dogs could talk. But since they can’t, it’s a bit difficult to get but not impossible. Since dogs cannot easily scratch their own belly, they rely on humans for help and a comforting belly rub from humans is one of the greatest rewards they can receive.

Never force the Belly Rubs

Trust is key when it comes to bonding with your dog and one way you can easily lose this trust is if you force your dog to do what he/she doesn’t want to do.

While most dogs tend to enjoy a nice belly rub it should never be forced. If you force a dog onto his back you’re likely going to create other anxious behaviors.

Be sure your dog is not in a state of anxiety when offering a belly rub. You can confirm your dog’s comfort level by observing its behaviour very closely. An uncomfortable dog will tuck his tail between his legs or hunch up his body. On the contrary, a relaxed dog will look loose and floppy.

Once you notice an uncomfortable behaviour, do not hesitate to stop the belly rub immediately. If your dog moves away or seems relaxed once you stop that’s a good signal that he’s not comfortable with the belly rub.

When not to rub your dog’s belly

Although belly rubs are cool, there are times you need to hold on with the rubs. Here are some periods you should be wary of offering your dog a belly rub;

  1. If your dog has stomach or back pain
  2. If your dog has recently had surgery
  3. If your dog has anxiety about having its stomach touched
  4. When they just don’t need the belly rub

Some dogs are not just cool with belly rubs and it’s not helpful to force your dog to like it. But it’s quite different if your dog previously enjoyed belly rubs and suddenly stops wanting the belly rubs. This could be a pointer to something critical that may need you to call the vet as it may be a sign of a sore belly or a back pain issue.

A simple way of knowing if your dog doesn’t enjoy belly rubs is when your dog doesn’t roll over and offer up his belly on his own. The best thing to do at this stage is to stop the belly rubs and find other ways of bonding.

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