Why Do Dogs Enjoy Belly Rubs?

It is safe to say that every dog enjoys a good belly rub. Anyone who interacts with a dog knows that it is common for them to roll onto their backs so you can give them a good scratch in their favorite spot. But it really begs the question: why do dogs enjoy their belly rubs so much? The answer is a little more complicated that you might think, because not all dogs who expose their stomach are interested in a rub. Some dogs, says a woman named Dr. Liz Stelow, who works as the Chief of Animal Behavior Services at the University of California Davis, are interested in belly rubs.

There are actually two reasons for a dog to show its belly, she says. Either the dog actually does want a belly rub or they are exhibiting a submissive behavior, commonly known as tapping out. There are two very different reasons for a dog to do either of these things. A dog showing its belly is a sign of submission, and it makes them vulnerable to other animals or to humans. This means that a dog could roll over and show its belly because they want the current interaction to stop, not because they want you to come closer to them. Dogs doing this behavior typically roll over very slowly, look away, show their eye whites and seem tense rather than relaxed. Giving a dog a belly rub while they are exhibiting this behavior is not a good idea.

Your Pet Land//Facebook

However, when a dog actually does want a belly rub there are a few ways to tell. They will be relaxed, for starters. They will also typically plop down onto the floor near a human from whom they want attention and they will wag their tail or act like they are enjoying themselves. They could enjoy belly rubs because they feel good, because it has been positively reinforced by their owners or just because it happens to reduce their blood pressure and heart rate.

So, the next time a dog “asks” you, be sure to give them a rub!

Next Article
  • Dog with Matted Fur “Asks” for Help

    It was an unbelievable sight for a woman named Donna Killough. As she and her husband were leaving a gas station in San Antonio, Texas, they spotted what looked like a pair of eyes peeking out from a large ball of matted fur. It was quite the perplexing sight, and it got even stranger when...

    Read More
  • Puppy with Zip Tie Around Snout Gets Second Chance

    When a woman named Liz Heatherly was traveling down a back road in the Travelers Rest area of South Carolina, she never imagined she would come across a terrible sight. It took a while for her to process what she was seeing, but once she did she knew that she just had to act. What...

    Read More
  • Dog Scared of Thunderstorms Gets Sweet Gesture

    Nearly three years ago, Bentley the dog was adopted into a loving home. His former owners moved out of the country and were unable to bring him along with them. This worked out well for his new family, who loves him dearly. Bentley, who is an eight year old Chihuahua, is very small and really...

    Read More
  • Terrified Dog Lives on Train Tracks

    There are plenty of great places for a dog to live, but outdoors is typically not an ideal location for a dog to reside. That is certainly the case for a Shar-Pei named Tweedy. He was discovered living on the streets of Los Angeles and had taken shelter near a set of very busy railroad...

    Read More
  • Rescue Dog Can’t Get Enough Snuggles

    Much like their human counterparts, every dog is different. Some like to have a special place to sleep, a bed located at the foot of their owner’s bed or even feeling safe inside a crate. However, George is not one of those dogs. George is different—George is special. He is the kind of dog who...

    Read More
  • Actor Chris Evans Loves his Rescue Dog

    Celebrities might seem like they are different than us, but it turns out we are much more similar than you would think. Particularly celebrities who love dogs! Actor Chris Evans, who is most often known for his role as Captain America, is just one of those kinds of dog loving celebrities. Chris does not love...

    Read More
  • Puppy Rescued from Very Precarious Position

    Puppies are known for their never-ending energy and their incredible curiosity. Even though they are typically quite small, that does not mean a puppy cannot get itself in trouble and even a bit of danger from time to time. That is just what happened in Bastrop County, Texas recently. It all began with a phone...

    Read More
  • Rescue Dog Hired by Police Department

    It is quite common to refer to the police as the “fuzz,” but in the state of Minnesota in the United States that term has a very different meaning. You could even say that they have a literal interpretation of the fuzz. That’s because a very fuzzy individual became a member of the department. It...

    Read More