why do dogs love belly rubs

Loving Owners Understand: Why Do Dogs Like Belly Rubs?

Animals have emotions and they display affection differently. Most animals utilize touch and body language as their means of communication. Love, care, and kindness can be shown thru touch. Dogs may display different behaviors to get their owner’s attention. If you are a dog owner, you probably are aware that dogs love belly rubs?

For animals, touch on faces or the underside of their necks is a way to show affection. To correct or to exert dominance, touch on the back, back of the neck, top of the head, or top of the nose. Eye contact and smell are also another way animals show affection.

Why do dogs like belly rubs? The most unique relationship ever known is the bond between humans and their pets. When you pet your dog, cuddle it, or sit with it, you show that you care. Sometimes when you approach your dog, it automatically rolls over, exposing its belly for you to rub. What’s so special about these rubs and why do they like them so much?

Why Do Dogs Love Belly Rubs?

Animals love showing affection and they enjoy receiving affection and attention as well. Seeing your dog rolling over and exposing its belly is a sign of trust. When animals fight, as a sign of submission, the defeated animal rolls over and exposes its neck to its opponent. Once the winning opponent sees this body movement, it withdraws immediately. It won’t continue its attack as long as the defeated dog remains in a submissive position.

So when your dog does this, it’s telling you that it trusts that you won’t hurt it. Here are some reasons why dogs like their bellies rubbed.

Dogs love belly rubs because it feels good

Animals, including dogs like a belly rub. Both humans and animals see physical touch as a sign of comfort. Dogs like their bellies rubbed because it makes them feel good. Their bodies react both physically and neurologically.

According to a scientific study, hair follicles create sensations that send messages to the brain that makes the dog feel good. Movement of your hand on its body triggers the hair follicles which stimulates a neuron in the brain. This makes the experience more enjoyable for your dog.

Belly rubs can reduce heart rate. It keeps them calm and relaxed. Humans also benefit from rubbing their pets. It’s a generally relaxing activity that makes everyone feel good.

They can’t reach it

Dogs can scratch their ears, nibble around their legs, but one place they cannot get to is their belly. Therefore, they are willing to let their human companions help them rub those areas that they can’t normally reach. And they really love belly rubs from their loving owners.

Most dogs love belly rubs, but other dogs don’t.

There are dogs that when someone tries to touch them and give belly rubs, it becomes tense or it withdraws itself. One may wonder, how come their dog doesn’t like belly rubs and thinks they are bad owners.

Dogs have different behaviors, while some like to be touched, others don’t. If your dog does not appreciate being touched or being rubbed you should respect that and show your affection in a different way. Past experiences might cause a dog to dread having its belly rubbed. Or simply it might not just like it altogether.

Playful Submission VS Frightened Submission

Sometimes a dog owner might mistake a dog’s fearful position for the position of wanting a rub. Before rubbing a dog, you must be certain that it is comfortable with that type of affection. A dog submitting itself playfully would look relaxed and loose, with its tail wagging playfully and its tongue out in a silly way. When your dog sees you and it rolls over, gently moving your hand with its nose, it definitely wants a rub.

On the other hand, a dog submitting itself fearfully due to intimidation would look tense, its teeth bare and its body hunched. It can also have its tail tucked between its legs. Once you notice this, step away from your dog immediately to avoid giving it anxiety.

If your notice your dog moving away or seeming to relax once you stop rubbing its belly, you should know that it is not comfortable with being rubbed. Dogs are really smart and they have a way of showing their owners what they want and how they want to be touched.

The Scratch Reflex

Have you ever noticed your dog’s legs kicking when you rub its belly? This is an involuntary response known as “the scratch reflex“. When dog is tickled, it activates the nerves in its spinal cord. It then relays a message to your dog to scratch its body to get rid of the inconvenience. The same feeling goes when an insect lands on its body.

It is time to move your hands away from that spot and play with your pet in a different way when you notice your dog kicking several times and looking confused.


Why do dogs like belly rubs? All animals like affection, especially pet animals. Dogs enjoy physical touch from their owners. By rubbing their belly, it shows them that they are cared for. They would roll over immediately when they see you approach them. You can rest assured that your dog trusts you enough to appear vulnerable.

If your dog does not enjoy having its belly rubbed, don’t feel bad. It does not mean that it doesn’t trust you, but it could just be a behavioral preference. You can try rubbing between its ears or the sides of its neck.

Pets that enjoy belly rubs show how much fun they’re having by how they position their bodies. However, once you notice your pet is kicking too involuntarily, you can move your hands to another spot or you stop the rubs altogether.

Figuring out the best way to make your pets enjoy your company would help both of you have a good experience.

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