You’re sitting silently on your couch.
Then suddenly, your pooch lies beside you on the floor on their back.
“I know what you want, babyboo”, you think to yourself.
They want you to scratch their tummy.
You’ve got a lifetime of scratchies to give.
It’s like having an unlimited supply of furry and cute lottery scratch cards!
We fur parents really don’t mind doing this.
Some dogs even have strangers do this to them
But aren’t you curious why canines like it so much?
Keep reading to learn:
- 3 tips when scratching their stomach.
- How canines feel when their tummies are being touched.
- 13 reasons why dogs like it when you scratch their stomach.
- And this is just the beginning…
Table of contents
- Why do dogs like it when you scratch their stomach?
- 13 reasons why dogs like it when you scratch their stomach
- #1: They like it when you rub their bellies
- #2: It feels like they are being groomed
- #3: They trust you
- #4: They feel comforted
- #5: They are trying to build a bond with you
- #6: They feel an itch in their stomach
- #7: They might have mites and fleas
- #8: They are being playful
- #9: We humans have modified their behavior
- #10: They think of you as part of their family
- #11: It releases the love hormone in their brain
- #12: It’s part of their routine
- #13: It looks like they like it but it’s not the case
- 3 tips when scratching your dog’s stomach
Why do dogs like it when you scratch their stomach?
Dogs like it when you scratch their stomachs because it feels good. The hair follicles in their tummies are also sensitive and they like it when you touch them. It also shows affection and love to your pooch and serves as a bonding activity with them. They do this when they trust someone.
13 reasons why dogs like it when you scratch their stomach
#1: They like it when you rub their bellies
You remember how back scratches feel good?
Yep, even writing this now, I wanna get some.
It doesn’t even have to have a purpose like relieving an itch.
Dogs are like this, too.
They sometimes crave tummy scratches because they like the feeling.
They have hair follicles on their stomach area and these can be stimulated through scratches.
Because of this, they feel a special kind of reaction in their brain usually associated with love and other positive feelings.
Don’t be surprised if your pooch becomes addicted to your belly rubs.
They might even demand it – and, well, we give it freely.
It’s not a chore for us. We fur parents love doing it anyway!
#2: It feels like they are being groomed
Dogs have a unique way of grooming themselves.
They can’t bathe independently like humans with soap, water, and all kinds of hair care products.
Would be cool to see them take baths on their own, right?
Maybe they’d even whip out a Taylor Swift playlist in the bathroom and sing to it like they’re on a stage with her.
(This sounds like I do this – guilty!)
Instead of going on imaginary concerts in the shower, what dogs do is lick themselves.
They do this to keep their fur clean and free of any foreign material.
Your pooch might even lick your leg as a way of grooming you.
And when you rub their tummy, it can feel like you’re cleaning them.
Freeing them from dirt and excess hair from their body.
While their fur does have a usual cycle of renewing and growing, it can still help if they get help from their hooman.
Rubbing their belly is one of the ways to do this.
#3: They trust you
Dogs can be very picky pets.
They sometimes won’t let anyone whom they don’t know touch them.
Some dogs with aggressive tendencies even growl, snarl, and bark at those they don’t trust.
According to research, dogs have the ability to detect whether someone is trustworthy or not.
However, if you treat them well, you’ve got a companion for life.
They can also be some of the most fiercely loyal and loving pets you can have.
I mean, just look at this furry pooch who saved his hooman from no less than a cougar:
One of the indicators that your fur baby trusts you is they let you play with them.
You can pet them, cuddle with them, even wrestle them if they find that you are trustworthy.
Rubbing their bellies is another way you can tell that they do trust you.
Being on their back is a very open and vulnerable position to be in.
Dogs who are newly adopted or have had abusive owners may find it hard to trust anyone for belly rubs.
Hence if they let you see them and touch them in this position, this just means they know you won’t hurt them.
#4: They feel comforted
When dogs are young, they are groomed through licks by their mom or their dad.
It’s one of the ways dogs show affection towards others.
They even do this to their hoomans to let them know that they are there and ready to empathize with them.
Have you experienced this before?
It’s sweet, right?
They might not be able to talk and say comforting words to you but their actions say more than enough.
According to Dr. Peter Brown, dogs are the same way.
They feel comforted through your actions – in this case, scratching their stomach.
When you rub their belly it can feel like their dog parents are the ones touching them.
It gives them a sense of solace.
Especially during times when they are feeling sad.
Whenever you provide this comfort to them they might come back and ask for more.
They become accustomed to the fact that you are their main provider and can give them everything they need.
And this is something that we fur parents love doing!
They may not understand what we tell them but belly rubs are a language they know.
#5: They are trying to build a bond with you
Physical touch is one of the ways dogs create long-lasting bonding with the people around them.
Based on a study, positive interactions with your dogs build better relationships with them.
It can also help both of you have better overall well-being.
If your dog’s general psychological health is good, they tend to be happier and more involved in your day-to-day activities.
Through these activities, they can also get to know you more.
Because of the increase of positive interactions with your dog, they become more attached to you.
This could be why they always want you to have interactions with them.
Such as belly rubs and scratches.
These can also manifest through wanting to play with you and by following you around wherever you go.
#6: They feel an itch in their stomach
Remember how good it felt when a friend scratches an itch on your back you can’t reach?
You probably sighed in relief so loud you woke up your whole neighborhood.
Dogs can get in these situations, too.
They have the ability to reach their neck, chin, and shoulders but rarely are they able to scratch their own tummies.
They might rely on you to get their itch relief and get rid of any uncomfortable feeling in their stomachs.
Although dogs have a way to scratch an itch in their stomachs.
You might have seen them scoot on their tummies at times.
It’s when they stretch their bodies stomach down and drag it across a rough surface.
This can be cement, grass, or even your carpet.
However, it might be easier for them to just let you do it.
I mean, who wouldn’t want a helping hand, right?
#7: They might have mites and fleas
In relation to reason #6 – parasites might be present in your dog’s stomach.
There can be a number of reasons why your pooch has an itch in their tummy but these freeloading passengers are one of the most common ones.
Dogs are naturally playful and curious creatures.
Have you seen them smell around and check every moving thing when you go out for hikes?
That’s just how they are.
However, because of this curiosity, they might wander off to unknown places.
Ones that might not be sanitary and full of ticks, mites, and fleas.
Here are a few ways you can keep pests away from your pets:
Do general cleaning once a month
Parasites love an unclean place.
They breed and hide in areas where they can’t be found and remain untouched.
If you have lots of space in your home with unnecessary stuff and junk that hasn’t been moved in a while, they’d love to stay there.
Keep your home pest-free by frequently exposing possible hideouts and cleaning them.
You can also use trusted anti-flea sprays for your home such as Vet’s Best.
Trim your bushes and grass
One thing that fleas and mites hate is sunlight.
If you expose them, the fleas will flee (see that pun? Haha!).
They have the tendency to hide under thick leaves and branches.
Once your dog goes out to play in your yard, they can freely jump onto them. After which these pests will enjoy a nice buffet or dogffet if you will.
Apply anti-flea products on your dog
We won’t be able to keep the whole world free from fleas (as much as we want to),
If only we can call on all fur parents and go for an all-out war against pests, right?
Since we can’t do this, the next best thing to do is to protect our fur babies.
You can go on Amazon and check out this dog spray to keep them safe from pests.
#8: They are being playful
If only dogs could talk, they’d probably hound us nonstop asking us to go out and play with them.
They do this by trying to get your attention, not letting you sit down, jumping on you, and several more behaviors.
Lying down on their backs and showing you their tummy? This could indicate a need for playtime.
According to research, the frequency and types of play you do with your dog show the level of relationship you both have.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to us fur parents that dogs who are well taken care of, loved, and fed crave our attention.
They naturally are drawn to those who can provide for them and would want to build a bond with them.
However, there will be instances when we don’t have enough time to play with them.
During these times, your dog might attempt to do a behavior that will catch your attention.
Here are a few things you can do to keep your pooch satisfied when it comes to their need for playtime and exercise:
Make sure their exercises are of high quality
“What do you mean by high quality?”
It means that they get to exercise for the proper amount of time and their minds can be stimulated.
Playtime quality can also be improved. You can socialize them so they learn to be around other pets and humans.
As a basis, dogs generally need around 20 minutes of exercise, according to Malcolm Weir.
The playtime length varies depending on age, energy level, and level of fitness.
Note: VCA suggests consistency is better than the length of time. It’s better to walk your pooch for 20 minutes daily than have 2-hour exercises once a week.
Switch up the activity once in a while
It would be good for your pooch to experience several types of exercises.
In their routine, you can try to include ones that focus on agility, cardiovascular strength, social skills, etc.
As long as things are kept exciting and fun, your dog will thank you every day.
Change your hiking route from time to time so your fur baby can familiarize your area.
This would be helpful if they accidentally go out alone.
They’d still be able to find their way home.
#9: We humans have modified their behavior
Humans have been domesticating dogs for over ten thousand years.
Throughout this time, behaviors have been altered.
Dogs were trained to do certain things that would help their human counterparts.
An example of this would be German Shepherds.
This dog breed has exceptional energy and herding skills.
Humans have then employed their characteristics to help them with their tasks in taking care of their flocks and other animals.
However, there are also other behaviors that we have been able to train dogs to do.
One of them is lying down on their back and getting it scratched by us.
Michael Schaier, a CPDT, suggests that even though dogs are vulnerable in the “belly rub position”, they are okay with it.
This is because we have coexisted and have trained them to be social.
#10: They think of you as part of their family
Dogs are creatures who live in packs much like their relatives – the wolf.
As part of the pack, there should be trust and love within the members.
They also do this to survive for longer periods and travel farther distances.
They also think about the welfare of the members of the pack.
Food and other resources are distributed among the members prioritizing the weak and the young.
Good thing is dogs won’t discriminate against you and still include you in their pack even if you’re not the same species as them.
As long as you are trustworthy and know how to provide and protect the pack, you’re good to go.
Being allowed to scratch their stomachs can be a way dogs show this relationship with you.
A study even concludes that the relationship between owner and dog can be likened to a parent-child relationship.
The research looked at 51 dog-parent pairs. The results show that the behavior between them is similar to a mother-infant relationship.
#11: It releases the love hormone in their brain
Love hormone, also called oxytocin, is a chemical our brains release when we feel happy.
Dogs feel this too when they experience joy from positive interactions with you.
Because having this hormone surge through your dog’s body makes them feel good, they might look for it more.
Research also shows that when you gaze into your dog’s eyes, their oxytocin levels rise.
Directly staring at your dog while scratching their stomach is pretty common and sometimes inevitable.
Pair this action with positive emotions through your voice and your dog will feel waves of happiness.
#12: It’s part of their routine
Dogs can quickly learn routines and stick with them.
Now, if scratching their belly has become something that you do to them on a daily basis, then they will get used to it.
There are several ways humans can insert belly scratching into a dog’s daily routine:
- During the morning after the dog wakes up.
- Getting the attention of the dog before meals.
- It usually leads to a reward like a treat or a toy.
- If the owner wakes the dog up for exercise or playtime.
Especially if scratching their stomach precedes an activity they like to do, there is a high chance they’d love to do it again.
#13: It looks like they like it but it’s not the case
This will be a curveball for fur parents reading this article.
But, a dog who lays down on their back when they see their dog parent may not be doing it because they like it.
It can be because they’re trying to protect themselves from the abuse they might have received from previous keepers.
When we see a dog lying on its back, we sometimes automatically assume it is a sign that they want to be scratched.
However, this might not always be the case.
According to VCA, it can sometimes mean that your pooch is trying to appease you.
When they feel scared or threatened, lying down on their back is a way for them to say, “Please, don’t hurt me”.
If your dog is not adopted and has been with you since birth, check if there are instances that they’ve been hurt by other people in your home.
The reason might be due to discipline because of bad behavior like chewing on shoes and peeing inside the house.
But it can’t justify hurting your fur baby.
After all, positive reinforcement is the best method to train your dog without having to resort to punishments.
3 tips when scratching your dog’s stomach
Dogs view scratching their stomachs differently.
It’s important that your actions as a fur parent reflect their perspective on this.
#1: Don’t force them
There are dogs who don’t like getting their stomachs scratched.
And it’s normal.
Some dogs love it, even demand it, others on the other hand don’t care whether you scratch them or not.
However, if your pooch happens to not like belly rubs, don’t be sad.
It doesn’t mean that they don’t love you.
And there are several ways you can still show physical affection with them.
You just need to learn which ones suit your pooch best.
You can choose from either of the following:
- Head scratches.
- Pets on their back.
- Scratches on their chin.
- Gently pressing on their legs and paws.
You are bound to find one activity that your dog likes – don’t worry!
#2: Let them leave when they want to
Some people don’t want to be smothered.
I mean, there is such a thing as too much physical affection which can lead to ignoring personal space.
Your dogs can sometimes feel this, too.
According to an animal behaviorist, Terri Bright, your dogs can feel uncomfortable with your gestures.
Bright goes on to talk about the “whale eye”.
It’s when your dog looks at you by not moving their head but only their eyes.
As a result, you’ll see the white of their eyes when they do this.
And it can be an indicator that they no longer like what you’re doing.
It can make them feel the following:
Learn to stop when you see this behavior in them.
They may also resolve to doing these if they feel uncomfortable:
- And other gestures that show aggressiveness.
#3: Be gentle
Especially if your dog is small in size, you need to be careful when scratching their stomachs.
Too much rough play can lead to injuries, cuts, and bruises.
Ensure to start slow and light on your hands when scratching their stomachs.
Then gradually increase the speed.
As long as you still see them enjoying the belly rubs, you’re good to go.