Why Do Dogs Like Belly Rubs Like A Boss?


One of the cutest moments between a dog and its owner is belly rubs. Dog owners quickly find out that dogs welcome belly rubs and really like them. Why is that so? Why do dogs like belly rubs?

Belly rubbing releases endorphins and oxytocin in the dog. Belly rubs feel good for dogs but not all dogs like it. Dogs with open wide tummies are vulnerable. Belly rubbing is a good way for the owner and the dog to bond with each other. 

As I said, not all dogs like belly rubs. More so, you can mistake your dog opening its stomach for a belly-rub invite. Sometimes, dogs show submissiveness that way.

Let’s find out whether your dog is inviting you for a belly rub or it’s showing its submissiveness to you.

Do Dogs Like Belly Rubs

Do Dogs Like Belly Rubs

Now, we should set some things clear. Not all dogs like belly rubs. We don’t really know why dogs love being scratched on their tummies instead of somewhere else.

In fact, some dogs may prefer back scratches, head scratches, or neck scratches before belly rubs. Your dog should like to be scratched at some of the usual pleasure spots. But your dog may not like cuddling at all.

We know for a fact that scratching, rubbing, and grooming dogs releases endorphins and oxytocin. So, when you cuddle with your dog, the dog is feeling generally happy. That may come from the fact that the dog is bonding with its loved one. [Source]

Also, dogs are not able to reach their bellies. And, we all know how dogs like to scratch themselves sometimes. They are not able to scratch their bellies though. So, that may be the reason why they are asking for a belly rub.

Remember though, dogs are individuals, so whether your dog likes belly rubs depends on its character. Although most dogs like belly rubs, some are not big fans. The dog may like being cuddled somewhere else, or it may have a low tolerance for cuddling.

So, you need to decide whether your dog likes belly rubs, or it just tolerates them. If your dog doesn’t like belly rubs, and it’s not tolerating them, it may be anxious in those situations.

Why Do Dogs Give You Their Belly

Why Do Dogs Give You Their Belly

When a dog lays on its back and exposes its belly, most pet owners instantly think that it’s asking for a rub. But that is not always the case.

Although it looks really cute and welcoming, a dog with an exposed belly is not always a good thing. Dogs expose their bellies when they feel vulnerable. For instance, a dog will lay on its back when approached by a bigger dog that is seen as a threat. The open-belly pose is a way for the dog to show its submissiveness.

So, a dog exposing its belly can mean two things. Either the dog is showing submissive behavior, or it trusts you and wants to bond with you. The problem is, how to find out what your dog is doing.

Signs Your Dog Wants A Belly Rub

  • The dog lays on its back with its belly open while its body is relaxed.
    Dogs assume an open-belly position when they want a belly rub. They are laying on their side on their back, with their belly open. Their body is relaxed, the dog is not tensing up.
  • The dog will have a relaxed or waggly tail.
    One of the easiest ways to recognize your dog’s intentions is to check the tail. Dogs that are feeling relaxed and want to bond with their owner will be feeling happy. Hence, they will wag their tails.
  • Relaxed tongue with an open mount, the eyes are often half-closed. 
    Dogs don’t tense up when they are happy and relaxed. So, their mouth will not be tensed, the mouth will be flopping around when you are giving the belly rubs.

[Related Article: 8 Unknown Ways Dogs Show Love And Affection To Humans!]

Signs Your Dog Is Submissive

  • The dog will be tense, not relaxed. 
    Now, a submissive dog will also expose its belly. But not in a dog way. The dog can feel threatened, exposing its belly it’s just a way to avoid conflict. If you have ever seen a dog exposing its belly to another dog that it’s scared of, that’s the pose I’m talking about. [Source]
  • The dog will be staring. 
    What dogs often do when they are stressed out is they will stare into the distance. It will look like your dog is focusing on something with its eyes open, but it’s not looking at anything specific.
  • Tucked in tail, or tense and still tail. 
    Again, you can notice your dog’s intentions by its tail movements. Dogs that exhibit submissive behavior will have their tail tucked in between their thighs.
  • The dog will look generally scared. 
    If a dog is submissive that means it’s scared. And dogs have a specific kind of look when they are scared, especially the face.

Should I Rub My Dog’s Belly

All of this begs the question: Is it okay to rub my dog’s belly? Well, the answer depends on whether your dog likes the belly rubs. You need to figure out whether your dog is inviting you for belly rubbing or it’s just submissive.

Look at your dog’s posture while it has its belly open. Does it look relaxed or tense? When you pet it, does the dog tense up or it’s relaxed? Is the tail wiggling or is it tucked in?

If your dog generally likes cuddling, it should like belly rubs. You should rub your dog’s belly as long as it’s fine with it. I recommend doing so, it’s a good way to strengthen your bond.

However, if your dog looks tense, you shouldn’t rub its belly. Some dogs just don’t like cuddling. If your dog is submissive, consult with a trainer or a vet on how to deal with the issue.

[Related Article: 9 Cools Facts Why Dogs Sneeze When Play Fighting With Humans]

Related Questions And Other FAQs

Is It Bad To Rub My Dog’s Belly

There’s nothing wrong with rubbing a dog’s belly. Dogs and their owners create and strengthen their bonds while cuddling. Some dogs don’t like belly rubs. In that case, belly rubs are a bad idea since they induce anxiety.

Why Do Dogs Like To Be Pet So Much

Endorphins and oxytocin in dogs when you are cuddling. More so, dogs read that you are having a good time, so they are enjoying it too. In general, petting feels good for dogs. Not all dogs like to bet though.

Tim Adams

Tim has experience of 15 years with a wide variety of pets. Anything animal-related is his passion, so he is here to share some good practices to know about owning pets.

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