Why do dogs like belly rubs

Why do dogs like belly rubs? How does belly Rubs affect dogs’ health?

Like human animals also need to be taken care of and to be loved. And to show the like they demand their owners’ hug/cuddle pat or kiss them. One of the most liked gestures of love by them is rubbing, which is especially loved by dogs. That is why most of the people ask why do dogs like belly rubs?

Because they feel so cared about and loved by belly rubs. Also, there is a biological reason that belly rubbing activates a reaction in their brain, which results in stimulation in their hair follicles which helps them in social grooming. Belly rubs are simply a sort of relationship between a dog and an owner like other human relationships.

Dr Peter Brown chief of medical staff in a veterinary- based pet service provider in Washington and California that belly rubbing is a comforting action. Also, he added that it is an opportunity for bonding and part of our relationship with our dogs.

Your dog recognizes your behaviour towards him. And when he wants your love and attention, he will ask for it by coming to your cuddling you or any other kind of gesture near you. Following are some reasons why dogs love belly rubbing.  

Enjoy human companionship: 

dogs Enjoy human companionship
dogs Enjoy human companionship

It is a natural thing that dogs are the best friend of humans, and they are the most loved pet animals. By their belly being rubbed, they feel so much affection towards their owners which they feel as their companions.

They also want you to feel loved. That is why human beings love dogs as pets. They trust you with their medical and emotional health. Dogs are so much like humans; that is why they also want to accompany humans because they can speak the human language, so belly rubbing is a great way to make a relationship with humans. 

You may Also Like: Can dogs eat grapes? Are Grapes harmful for your dog?

Submissive behaviour: 

Some dogs love their backs rubbed because they show it as a sign of submission towards their owners to let them know that they are their pets as well as their workmates. Because dogs understand human behaviour, that is why they are often used as watchdogs or for detection, which is one of their services for humankind. They show submissive behaviour to tell you that they are not presenting any danger to you or society.  

Being by your side:  

Another reason why dogs like belly rubs can be they want to be by your side. And for this, they want you to do it just to engage yourself with them and having your full attention on them. This behaviour of pet dogs is just like babies who always want someone just to entertain them and giving attention to them. As for him humans we encourage or console each other through patting and rubbing backs dogs also pick up this behaviour and through this way adapts a sense of socializing. 


Playing is also one of the reasons why dogs like belly rubs. It is a kind of play for them to come to you then lie down on their backs and just being rubbed by their owners on their bellies. It prepares them for social interaction; also as it is a special mechanism in them.

dog playing with owner
dog playing with owner

So, they just loosen themselves in front of their owners to give them a gesture and enjoy the lovely play. One of this behaviour is when you play catching the ball or any other toy with them usually, they want their belly to be rubbed after catching as a sign of encouragement and if they get it, they just love it.

Signs that your dog wants belly rubbing:  

Your dog will show up with following gestures if it is in the mood of belly rubbing: 

  1. Loose and cozy body language 
  2. Opened mouth, the tongue may be dropping outside.  
  3. Eyes not staring at anything 
  4. Panting sound and relaxed breathing  


Always looks for the demand of your dog whether he wants belly rubs or not and differentiate between its submissive behaviour and playful behaviour or belly rub demanding because a rolling over back dog does not always indicate that he wants belly rubbing. It may be a submissive behaviour, particularly if he is tucking nails or licking lips. 

The true science behind it: 

If we go into deeper reasons, then there must be scientifically proven biological reasons about why dogs like belly rubs? When dogs go to their owners which they think of their companions, and they pat them and then rub their bellies, their brain release endorphins which is a hormone to for feeling good also present in humans.

Also, the level of oxytocin hormone, which is also called bonding hormone rises, ultimately, making their bonding with their masters strong. So, like a human being, dogs also develop love in the same mechanism.

You may also like: Can dogs eat cherries? Is it safe for dogs to eat cherries?  

Understanding the behaviour: 

Understanding is the key is human as well as animal relationships. For this, you have to spend time observing your pet dog’s behaviour which you can do through various sources such as mobile phone apps you can also keep an analysis which is handwritten.

Your dog’s all-day behaviour should be counted in this. You have to keep an eye on how he performs various tasks and does he do when he interacts with someone. Through this analysis, you can very easily know why do dogs like belly rubs. 

It will also help you to know what does your dog feels about you and how you can pay more attention to it, especially if you are taking care of a puppy and growing it up. By building up these strategies, you will get to know about how truly your dog loves belly rubbing.  

Need to rub or not: 

angry dog
angry dog

Dr Margaret Gruen, who is DVM MVPH and diplomat of the American college of veterinary behaviourists, stated that generally when a dog rolls over for a belly rub, you must give him a belly rub. The thing you keep in mind is he must roll onto his back himself and not made do so by anyone to give him a belly rub.

But if he does not roll over his back himself, it is advised by the doctor not to rub him. There are particular behaviours where tummy rubs may not be demanded. As in human beings, when present in unfamiliar surroundings, dogs also do not want to expose them in an unknown environment.

They feel uncomfortable to do so even if they want it. Even if your dog totally does not like being rubbed on the belly, you need not worry because just like humans, he may have different ideas about what feels good and brings pleasure.

But if he does not feel good when you rub his belly, or he becomes aggressive, then it is time to worry. Like, if your dog growls while you rub belly, you should just get up and walk away. It is also suggested that you should consult your veterinarian because these discriminations in behaviour are the sign of danger.

Your dog may show these changes because he fears something or he feels ill. Maybe there is something that disturbs him, or maybe he is demanding something from you or trying to tell you something.  

You may Also like:Can dogs eat mushrooms? Can a mushroom kill a dog?

What if dogs do not prefer it?

Just like humans, dogs have their own preferences with love and affection. So, if your dog doesn’t like belly rubs no need to worry. It doesn’t mean they don’t love their owner or they are not loyal to you.

They have their own likes about having affection or pleasure. Give them their space and do not think about that other dogs like their backs being rubbed but your dog does not prefer it. Also, you need not worry about their physical or mental health. 

What do they like about belly rubs?

It is not yet known exactly why do dogs like belly rubs. It is only the scientific and psychological research that has led to these facts because our pets cannot talk even if they live with us our whole life. Maybe it is just their mood which brightens up by belly rubbing or maybe they actually develop a sense of socializing. 

Many dogs love to do it in the morning time when they just wake up to cheer up their mood and start their day with pleasure. Some may like it at any time in the day, not only in the morning. There is no issue about timing because it is not any special body process.  

How to do belly rub to them?

First, you should watch if your dogs want belly rub as described above then if you feel he wants it then gently start patting him to encourage him and then rub his belly softy. Use your opened palms. Gentle rubbing is the thing why do dogs like belly rubs.You can also rub belly with your fingers in a circular motion but do not forget gentleness. Look for if he wants it more or not if he gets up then it’s over, and he has enjoyed what he wanted. 

Other behaviours while belly rubbing: 

Usually, when you rub your dog’s tummy, it shows uncontrollable leg-kicking. Do not think of it as ecstasy. The leg-kicking correlated with tummy rubs is often considered as an act of your dog’s pleasure, but it is an involuntary reaction. It’s called the scratch reflex or tickle response.

This response is also found in humans when something touches them suddenly, so they react with sudden kicking or punching. Similarly, in dogs, it activates nerves under his skin which are connected to the spinal cord. It sends a message to his brain to kick his legs to get rid of the nuisance, much like when their skin twitches when a bug lands on their back.

It’s an automatic response that helps keep your dog guarded. The spinal cord makes the leg to kick before the conscious brain makes the decision and identifies what is happening. It’s a phenomenon of self-protection. This behaviour can also develop another kind of social behaviour which is called self-defence. Pet dogs are usually kept at home most of the times, so they do not get chances to develop their social abilities much because stray dogs daily meet new persons and environments.

By this kicking behaviour, they can save themselves from many social threats, the biggest of which is stray dogs fight. As soon as something unfamiliar touches them by kicking their legs, they can push them away and can run to save themselves.

It is a very similar response to humans, but they do it in their own unique way. So, this behaviour can also be a reason why dogs love belly rubsThey themselves discover their unique abilities.  

Must read about: Bone cancer in dogs: How long can a dog live with bone cancer?


In the above discussion, we have put light on all the possible reasons why do dogs like belly rubs. This significant behaviour and demand for dogs can be with proper reasons and can be without any reason. All you need to look is just the dog’s demand to do so.

It is also told that what you need to look for. Look if it is a demand or submissive behaviour. It would help if you used this opportunity in a way that he completely gets benefits from it in addition to pleasure. It will be best for you if you develop his habits according to his own liking.  

Liking or not liking belly rubs may also depend on a dog’s past experience. If it has enjoyed it the first time, the dog will like it for next, but if it has not, it may dislike it. But again, it changes with time and with a dog’s growth.

But the dogs that like to socialize and are kind of extroverts enjoy it very much and must demand it. Just be a little mindful of its activities while rubbing its belly and always start with gentle rubs because this is a gradual way of pleasure. In short, it is the most liked by dogs and the best way to develop your relationship with the pet dog.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *