Why Do Dogs Love Belly Rubs? Here’s What Experts Say

Why Do Dogs Love Belly Rubs? Here’s What Experts Say

Author WDF Staff


If someone asked us to name things dogs love the most, we would probably include belly rubs on that list. But why do dogs love belly rubs? Dog owners can confirm that one of the best feelings in the world is when your dog flips on its back and demands belly rubs. It is just one of many joys of being a dog owner. However, we wanted to dig a bit deeper and learn what is so special about belly rubs dogs love so much. Here’s what we found out.

Why do dogs love belly rubs?

A couple of theories explain dogs’ love for belly rubs. Since dogs can’t talk, they can’t tell us exactly what it is they enjoy so much. All of these theories might be true, and it is up to each of us to choose a theory we will consider accurate. Here are 6 reasons dogs love belly rubs.

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1. Feels good

The first reason is plain and simple - belly rubs simply feel good. Cuddling is beneficial for dogs and their owners. Scientists proved cuddling releases serotonin, a hormone responsible for feeling good. This will also strengthen the bond between you and your dog. Dogs that flip on their backs show their owners they feel entirely safe with them. They will gladly expose their vulnerable body parts and ask for belly rubs.

dog getting belly rubs

2. They can’t reach their belly

Dogs can try to scratch their bellies themselves, but typically, they can’t reach the whole area. It’s similar to humans being scratched on their backs - most of us can’t reach it comfortably, so when someone else does it, it feels absolutely amazing. Dogs usually scratch an itch with their back legs, and they simply can’t bend so much that they can comfortably scratch that area of their body. We believe this is the same reason dogs love butt scratches so much.

3. Throwback to puppyhood

One of the first physical interactions dogs remember is when they were just puppies, and their mom cleaned them with her tongue. She used to lick their bellies, head, back, and even the rear. It is possible dogs like belly rubs because that takes them back to that “safe and comfortable” place when they were puppies. It is likely they want to recreate that feeling with their owners by asking for belly scratches.

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4. Hair follicles stimulation

The hair on the dog’s stomach is usually not as thick as the rest of their coats. All hairs have hair follicles, and the ones on the dog’s stomach are more sensitive due to the different distribution. Dogs love getting those hair follicles stimulated, which is why they enjoy belly rubs so much.

5. Grooming

Another possible reason dogs love belly rubs is - grooming. Dog’s ancestors used grooming as a way of social bonding, and the dog might feel you’re bonding while belly rub sessions are ongoing.

6. Interaction

The ultimate goal of any pet dog is to achieve interaction with their owner. Their biggest reward is their owner’s love and affection, and being showered with so much love is enjoyable. This theory says belly rubs are not much different from other types of cuddling, and dogs do it to achieve their goal.

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Do all dogs love belly rubs?

Some dogs aren’t comfortable with being in the position where comfortable belly rubs can happen. Some don’t like it, and dog owners should respect that. You should never try to force your dog into belly rubs. Try to read their body language and look for signs of whether a dog likes belly rubs or not. If you notice;

  • Stiff appearance
  • Growling
  • Lip licking
  • Lips pulled over the teeth
  • Wide-open eyes
  • Whining

and the dog is on its back, it would be wise to leave them alone. The dog is trying to communicate they are not in the mood for belly rubs; they are just submissive and are letting you know that. Look for other areas where your dog will be more comfortable with petting.

Should I give my dog belly rubs?

That will depend entirely on the dog. You should test it a bit and earn your dog’s trust to see if the dog will actually love belly rubs. Some dogs will simply never be interested in them, and you should respect that. Your dog might be happier with butt scratches or behind-the-ear scratches, and you will achieve the same result as with belly rubs.

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However, if your dog seems to love belly rubs, then you should rub away. Your dog will enjoy it, and you will enjoy it too. We already mentioned it will strengthen your bond, and belly rubs will provide you both with loads of fun times. Dogs that love belly rubs will usually let their owners know when they’ve had enough. Give them a few seconds of belly rubs and see how they react. If the dog stays in the same place or paws at your hand, it is a clear sign you shouldn’t stop scratching them. However, if the dog gets up, they might have had enough. Whatever the dog does, you should respect their wishes.

World Dog Finder team

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