Why Do Dogs Like Belly Rubs?


It is a mystery to almost all dog lovers why their dog so often throws themselves at your feet for a tummy rub. Dogs love a good belly rub because it makes them feel more relaxed, and it is like the way we feel when we get a hug.

Scientific Reasoning

We have studied many things about dogs and discovered why they have certain behaviors. It might not seem like there would be a scientific reason why they love belly rubs. Some people would say that it is just the way they are, but there is an actual reason they love belly rubs as much as they do. Almost all mammals have a part of the brain that is stimulated by the movement of hair follicles. When you pet their back or rub their stomach, it stimulates that part of the brain releasing chemicals that make them more relaxed and happy. Some dogs like you rubbing their belly more than others, and some prefer you not. You don’t have to be worried if your dog doesn’t like when you rub its tummy. It’s like when some people don’t like having their back scratched; it’s normal.

Submission or Excitement

You have to understand that just because your dog rolls onto their back, this doesn’t mean they are asking for a tummy rub. If your dog is a little scared, they might roll onto their back to diffuse aggression that might be going on. They are showing you that they aren’t a threat to you. Some signs of this are tucked tails, wide eyes, and stiff posture. If your dog looks afraid, it is best not to go in for a belly rub. It will likely make them more anxious.

If your dog asks you for some amazing tummy rubs, they will likely look excited. Their tail will be loose and wagging. Their mouth will be open, their tongue will likely be hanging out, and they will pant a little. The overall body language will be relaxed and happy. If you notice this, go right ahead for those lovely tummy rubs.

Another thing that could be happening when your dog rolls over onto their back is that they are just scratching their back. They will be wiggling a lot more because they are trying to get that itch they can’t reach alone.

Why They Kick Their Leg

It is completely normal for your dog to kick or twitch its leg when you are petting its stomach. This is a reaction they are getting from their brain. When a bug lands on a dog, you might notice its skin will slightly twitch. The brain triggers this because the nerves in the skin notice an irritation. The same message gets sent to the brain when you rub a dog’s belly. This doesn’t mean that rubbing their tummy is irritating to them; it is just a natural reflex. My Whoodle puppy does this all the time!

How to Give a Good Belly Rub

First, you need to look at their body language to know if they are really asking you for a belly rub. If they are, then you can go in. You need to be soft because their tummy is a sensitive area. You should rub them with an open palm in slow circling motions. If you are aggressively petting them, it could frighten them, and they might not want anymore. 

We understand so much more about dogs than we used to, but there are still things that we don’t fully understand. Now you can better understand what your dog is trying to tell you and react in the best way possible.

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