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
  • Man on Bike Gives Ride to Puppy in Need

    Colombo the puppy had a lot of bad luck for such a young dog. He didn’t seem to have a friend, and was living outside as a stray dog in the Columbus, Ohio area. Then, he was hit by a car. But things soon looked up for the dog who indeed found a friend to...

    Read More
  • Firefighters Don’t Stop Until They Save Puppy

    It was like any other day for the Evans family, who headed outside to take their little puppy MJ for a walk in the neighborhood. Then, without warning, the puppy suddenly disappeared. They had no idea what happened—one moment she was there, the next she was gone. As they looked closer, they realized there was...

    Read More
  • Dog Gets Mugshot After Police Run-In

    The Cape May Police Department in New Jersey is tough on crime. So, when the precinct received a call about a delinquency in progress, they jumped into action. As it turns out, the said crime was committed by a fluffy, four legged “criminal.” A little pug somehow managed to escape from her owner’s yard and...

    Read More
  • Puppy from Pet Store has Health Issues

    Moose is not a ‘normal’ dog. His face has an odd shape and he has an underbite. Sadly, he also has a laundry list of health problems that means he visits the veterinarian’s office quite often. But to his mom, a woman named Jennifer Osborne, none of that matters. Jennifer and her husband purchased Moose...

    Read More
  • Dog so Happy to Find Owner

    There is a woman named Lyn Crawford and she runs a Mississippi based volunteer group called the Jackson Friends of the Animal Shelter. This purpose of this group is to adopt out pets who were found on the streets by local animal control. However, she received a very special request recently. Lyn received a phone...

    Read More
  • 100 People Comfort Shelter Dogs

    The shelter can be a very scary place for a dog. On the Fourth of July, that experience becomes even more frightening for dogs everywhere—but especially in the shelter. The sound of fireworks can be stressful and scary for dogs, so to help ease the stress of the experience, a shelter in Arizona tried a...

    Read More
  • K9 Officer Shows off Special Talent

    John Allen and his K9 partner Spike are both specially trained officers for the Romeoville Police Department, located in the state of Illinois. The pair work side by side every day, working to keep their community safe. However, K9 Spike is a multi talented dog whose skills extend far beyond his abilities to help fight...

    Read More
  • Dog Chews Through Leash to Escape Heat

    There has been a heatwave hitting most of the country, making areas like Arizona see temperatures of 111 degrees Fahrenheit. Being outdoors for even a few minutes can be dangerous for humans and animals alike, and could lead to heatstroke or sunburn—or even death. So, it was unimaginable that someone would leave a dog outdoors...

    Read More