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9 Weird Reasons Why Dogs Roll On Their Back (And Wiggle)

Why Do Dogs Roll On Their Back

You’re on your way to see your pooch.

But by the time you approach, they suddenly roll on their back.

It’s not something that annoys you, but it can make you wonder.

Why do they do this?

Are they being playful or is it a sign of a serious medical condition?

Continue reading to find out:

  • 9 weird reasons why dogs roll on their back and wiggle.
  • If lying down and showing their belly has something to do with their mental health.
  • What medical issues your pooch has that make them lie down and show their tummy.
  • And this is just the beginning…

Why do dogs roll on their back?

Dogs roll on their back as an invitation to play with you. It’s also a way for canines to scratch their backs because it feels good. Or they have ticks and other parasites on their skin. It’s also a sign that they want belly rubs. Feeling too hot can make your pooch roll on their back, too.

9 reasons why dogs roll on their back (and wiggle)

#1: They want to play

It looks as if canines have an infinite source of energy. If we use dogs to power our cities, we’d most likely have clean and sustainable dognergy.

Kidding aside, most fur parents can relate when I say pups really are very active. Some dogs are even more energetic and hyper than others. When they get too bored, fur babies might be destructive.

So it’s beneficial if you don’t let your pooch get bored.

This is why all canines need to be let out for their daily walks. Busy fur parents can also opt to have their dogs exercise inside their homes.

And one indicator that your fur baby already needs their daily activity is they roll on their backs. It’s an invitation for you to go have fun with them.

There are several ways you can engage your pooch in exercises. And the good thing is, you don’t have to go out to give them their daily activity needs.

Here are a few exercises you can do according to the AKC:


Exercise #1: Go out on hikes. Just make sure you bring with you a water bottle for your pooch. Or a collapsible dog bowl. You can purchase the Collapsible Dog Bowls on Amazon. This one has a carabiner for improved portability.

Exercise #2: Run beside you while you cycle. If you’re into bikes, you can take your dog out for a ride on your favorite trail.

Exercise #3: Training their work skills. By this, I mean using your dog’s abilities in the games you play. You can try employing scent work, agility, and obedience routines. These will exercise your dog’s brain and keep them from being bored.

Exercise #4: Playing fetch. This exercise is one of the most common activities you can do with your pooch. Depending on their age and size, you can opt to throw the object far and high.

Exercise #5: Letting them pull a sled. Or you can use a cart if you don’t have a place where you can use a luge. This can strengthen their muscles and working dog breeds will definitely love this.

Exercise #6: Go out for a swim. You need to choose pools that allow dogs. This is also helpful for canines that have joint issues. Swimming is a low-impact activity and won’t wear out your canines knees and shoulder.


Exercise #1: Climbing up and down the stairs. Running through your steps is an excellent way to train your canine’s muscles. 

However, you need to take extra care if your dog has short legs such as Corgis or the tiny Chihuahuas.

Introducing them to the stairs first is helpful to avoid them getting fearful. Let your dog take a few assisted steps first before letting them run alone.

Exercise #2: Tug-of-war. Using a cloth or a ragged towel, you can play this game with your canine. You can make them chase you first before you let them bite.

Exercise #3: Treadmill. If you have a dog with high energy, letting them run would be best. You can purchase the PETSITE Dog Treadmill on Amazon.

Note: Don’t forget to consult with your vet before deciding on an exercise routine for your pooch.

Further reading: Revealed: 9 Real Reasons Why Dogs Whine When They See You

#2: They want you to pet them

Your Dog Rolls On Their Back Because They Want You To Pet Them

Dogs love our attention and getting rubs and pets from us is something they love. It’s one of the ways we can show our love for them.

As to canines… they show their care for us by leaning on us. Or any other physical way of showing love like:

That’s why when they’re asking for pets, they’ll try to get our attention. Be it in barking, following you around, or even rolling and wiggling when you’re nearby.

This usually happens when you’ve been out for the whole day. Or have been busy with work or other emergencies that you might have.

I mean, it’s not that you’re neglecting your pooch. Sometimes, life just gets in the way. And you no longer have a lot of time for them.

They crave your pets because it makes them feel good. Positive interactions like cuddles, hugs, and kisses will positively affect your pooch.

According to research, it’s beneficial to have a good relationship with your pooch. It can increase oxytocin both in you and your canine.

This hormone is what’s creating a surge of positive feelings in your body. And this happens to your pooch, too.

Because of this, you’ll be able to create a longer-lasting bond with your dog. This is the reason why your canine rolls on their back. They are in need of bonding time with you.

Situations like this will happen more if you have a velcro dog. These types of canines are predisposed to want to be always with you. Examples of these are:

  • Great Dane.
  • French Bulldog.
  • Irish Wolfhound.
  • Giant Schnauzer.

#3: They have ticks and other parasites

When your pooch is the adventurous type, it’s normal for them to go out and explore. They might go to places that you don’t know about.

Exploring your neighborhood can be beneficial for your pooch. Especially if they have been well-socialized since they’re young. This way, they’ll know how to act around other dogs.

It’s good that your fur baby will also meet and gain new friends. However, this might not be the only thing they’ll pick up outside.

There might be places within your area where your dog can get ticks. And this can become a problem for your pooch. Parasites will cause discomfort and other skin issues in your dog.

Because of this, your fur baby will roll on their back and wiggle. It’s one of the ways they can relieve the itch they feel.

Your dog does this because they cannot reach their backs. Well, unless they have Magneto’s powers and control your fork to scratch it.

If you see your dog rolling on their back and wiggling, check their backs…

You might see ticks and mites causing them to itch.

“Yeah… I did notice a few… what should I do?”

How to remove ticks

One way you can remove pests on your dog’s skin is by using an anti-flea dog shampoo. These hair care products are designed to remove ticks and keep your dog healthy.

You can buy the Adams Plus Flea & Tick Shampoo on Amazon. 

Another method you can employ is the use of oral tablets. The Advantus Flea Chews for Dogs is a top-rated product on Amazon.

If you see any inflammations and irritations on your dog’s skin, you should visit the vet. Fleas and ticks can cause diseases in your pooch. According to the DOH, here are examples of tick-borne illnesses:

  • Babesiosis.
  • Ehrlichiosis.
  • Anaplasmosis.
  • Lyme Disease.

“Oh no, these sound dangerous.”

It’s because they are. And it can affect you and your family, too.

“So how do I get rid of pests in my home?”

You can try these methods:

Tip #1: Use a tick collar on your pooch. This way, everywhere your dog goes, they’d be safe from these pests. And your canine doesn’t bring fleas home. Try using the Seresto Flea and Tick Collar for Dogs from Amazon.

Tip #2: Trim down your bushes and lawn. Ticks and fleas love cold places and will hide out in the grass. Once your dog is out playing, they’ll jump onto their fur and infect them. Expose the fleas to the sun by keeping your lawn clean.

Tip #3: Another easy, yet effective solution, is the Tickless device. You can attach it to your dog’s harness or collar. Cool, right? Plus, it’s chemical-free. It works with a non-replaceable battery. 

A quick way to tell if it works is to press its button. If you see the red light flashing 3 times, then everything’s still in order. If not, it’s time for a new one.

Note: The battery usually lasts between 6-12 months. So for that amount of time, you’re settled.

Check out next: 13 Surprising Reasons Why Dogs Like Their Ears Rubbed

#4: They feel hot

Do you live somewhere warm? Maybe the sun is particularly shiny today and the air around you is humid?

Having a hot environment can make your dog feel warm, too. Naturally, they’d want to cool down to lower their feelings of discomfort.

One way they do this is by rolling on their backs and wiggling around. Especially if you have a floor made of material the retains coldness like cement. Ceramic tiles can also feel cold to the touch.

If your dog rolls on their back, a huge part of their body can cool down. Lying down on a cold surface can be more efficient than waiting for the air to blow.

This situation is more evident in canines that have thick fur. Most of these dog breeds are born to live in cold areas. And warm places can affect their behavior.

Examples of these dog breeds are:

  • Chow Chow.
  • Saint Bernard.
  • Newfoundland.
  • Siberian Husky.
  • Japanese Akita.
  • German Shepherd.
  • Alaskan Malamute.

You might need to keep these dogs in a room with air conditioning. If you don’t have one, at least provide fresh water for them to drink.

However, there are cases when your dog doesn’t want to drink. Luckily, there are ways to trick your canine into drinking water.

One of the ways you can do this is by using ice cubes. Cold water is more attractive to dogs. And making them chew on something can also help them in their liquid intake.

It’s also faster for your dog to cool down if they drink something cold.

Warning: Large ice cubes can damage your canine’s teeth. Try giving them smaller pieces. Ice shavings are a great option, too.

You might also be interested in: 11 Essential Tips To Get A Dog To Drink Water After Surgery

#5: They’re hiding their scent

Your Dog Is Hiding His Scent

Smells are very important in a dog’s life. They use it to explore the world, learn about their peers and surroundings in general.

Noses and the smells they detect are some of the most powerful tools of a canine. It can spell their survival or death in the wild. It also helps your pooch know who is ready for mating and helps them procreate.

Impressive, right?

According to the VCA, humans only have 6 million olfactory receptors in their noses. Do you think that sounds a lot? Wait ‘til you hear about dog’s noses.

Canines have 100 million olfactory receptors. This is the reason why your pooch can smell you and your food from across the house.

Just a quick sound of a bag of chips and your fur baby zooms towards you like crazy. You’re about to put a Cheeto on your mouth and you see your dog do the puppy eyes.

This is just evidence of your dog’s smelling abilities.

However, their love for scents doesn’t just stop there. Like I said earlier, it’s also a tool for them to survive.

“Really? How?”

In the wild, dogs used to roll on smelly things to mask their scents. 

If you’ve noticed your dog rolling in fox poo, then that’s their survival instincts kicking in.

And this might be the reason why your pooch is on their backs in wiggling. I know it can be frustrating to find your dog smelling like that. But let me tell you the reason why they do it.

According to a study, modern-day dogs and wolves share similar DNA. And all throughout the years, your pooch also inherited their behaviors.

One of these is hiding their scents to better hunt prey. In the wild, dogs have better chances of surviving if they are able to be stealthy.

Canines’ preys also have a keen sense of smell and will detect them arriving. To stop this from happening, they “bathe” themselves with smelly things.

Your pooch actually doesn’t think of these smells as bad. It’s their magical cloak that hides them from plain sight. Especially if they are hunting animals that use noses to “see the world.”

You may also wonder: 13 Tips To Stop Dogs From Rolling In Dead Animals (How-To)

#6: They’re protecting themselves

Canines are excellent hunters. And this skill also comes with the ability to defend themselves.

This is extremely helpful if their prey tries to fight back and bite them. And when this happens, wild dogs try to roll on their back to avoid it.

It’s like when a boxer pulls back and lets a punch roll over their shoulder. Good defense techniques like this can make dogs last long during hunts.

Nowadays, dogs no longer have to hunt and defend themselves from predators. However, this learned behavior from their ancestors might still show today.

You’ll notice this when your fur baby is play fighting with other canines. Or even when you’re “attacking” them during playtime, they roll over to avoid your hand.

It’s good to hear that this can be just part of a dog’s playing mood. However, trying to defend themselves can also be caused by fear or anxiety.

Especially if you have a pooch with an abusive past, these instances will occur more often. They’ve been exposed to so much physical pain and abuse, they anticipate it from you, too.

And this can be the reason why they roll on their backs. It’s a way for them to protect themselves from you.

If you think fear is the cause for your dog’s behavior, try to see if they do the following too:

  • Barking.
  • Snarling.
  • Shivering.
  • Whimpering.
  • Lowering their head to the ground.

These are signs that your dog is afraid of you. Now, your pooch might not be afraid of you. But they might feel fear towards your partner. 

This can be a reason why they only roll on their back when certain people are around. And might even bark at your partner when they’re near.

#7: You encouraged the behavior

There are times when fur parents reinforce the actions of their pooches by accident. It’s when we unknowingly give them rewards when they do something.

It can be anything ranging from small attention to rubbing and petting your pooch. And this can be the reason why your dog rolls on their back and wiggles.

What do you do when your pooch does this? Scratch their tummy? Talk to them in a cute and playful voice?

If you do these things, then you encourage your pooch to roll on their backs. It’s such a subtle way to make them do a certain behavior more yet, it’s very effective.

After all, according to the VCA, using positive reinforcement is the best way to train your dog. This is because your pooch will link good things with the behavior you’re teaching them.

Punishments on the other hand will only work if you’re around. When you leave, your dog knows you can’t punish them. And so they’ll continue to do the behavior you want them to stop.

This is one reason why your baby keeps on rolling on their back and wiggling. You’ve conditioned them to do this action when you’re around.

Here are few of the “rewards” you may have given to your pooch:

  • Giving them your attention.
  • Hugging them while picking them up.
  • Rubbing their tummy while laying down.

#8: They feel happy

Does your pooch roll on their back and wiggle their tail when they see you? Do they look like they’re smiling and are generally joyful?

Then, that just might be the reason why they’re rolling on their back. Your fur baby is just generally happy that you’re around.

It can be a preferred way for your pooch to show that they are ecstatic about your presence. It also shows that your dog trusts you.

Rolling on their back is a defensive position as mentioned earlier. However, it can also make escapes harder for your dog.

It’s easier to fend off bites, scratches and kicks if your pooch is on the ground. But it’s still way better if they can run away from their attacker.

Rolling on their back can also indicate that your canine feels safe around you. Because they know that you wouldn’t hurt them. And because of this, it’s easy for them to expose their soft bellies.

And this isn’t to say that your dog is being “submissive”. They just genuinely are worry-free when you’re with them.

It means you’ve built a relationship built on trust and love. Your dog feels the care you have for them that they no longer have to look out for their safety.

Read next: 21 Signs Your Dog Fully Trusts You (With His Life!)

#9: They saw it from another dog

As mentioned before, dogs learn quickly if you use positive reinforcement. But there are other ways your pooch can pick up behaviors.

One of the ways they do this is by watching other canines. When they see certain actions that other dogs do, it’s highly likely that they’d follow them.

According to research, dogs have the ability to copy what other canines do. In the study, they tried to teach a puppy how to solve a puzzle.

The ones who taught the pup were a human, their mother, and an unfamiliar dog. The little puppy did learn how to solve the puzzle.

And based on their results, the canine learned it just by watching. Surprisingly, the puppy gave more attention when the unfamiliar dog was teaching them.

This might also be the case for your dog. You might’ve brought them to a park. Because they are naturally curious and social creatures, they tend to go around.

Your dog might’ve made friends who rolled on their backs. Doesn’t matter the context, as long as your pooch saw it, they might copy the action.

This can also happen when you have 2 or more dogs. These fur siblings will teach each other on how to act around your house.

And the behavior of rolling on their backs and wiggling could be something taught by the older dogs.

Just watch this pooch teaching their younger bro how to get treats:

People also ask:

Why do dogs roll on their back and wiggle

Dogs roll on their back and wiggle because they have ticks. It’s a way for them to relieve the itch they feel.

Rolling on their back can also be a way for your pooch to stay cool during the warm weather. This is especially true if you have a cold floor.

Why do dogs roll on their backs when in trouble?

Dogs roll on their backs when they’re in trouble because it’s a defense mechanism. When they’re anticipating getting hurt, lying down is a good position to dodge attacks.

Why do dogs roll on their back when you pet them?

Dogs roll on their back when you pet them because they want you to rub their bellies, too. It’s also a way for your canine to tell you that they trust you.

Being on their back is a vulnerable spot to be in. They might be able to defend against attacks, yes, but it’s harder to run and escape.

Why do dogs roll on their back in the grass?

Dogs roll on their back in the grass because they love the smell. It could also be their ancestors’ behavior manifesting.

Dogs used to hunt in the wild and covering their scent helps them become more stealthy. Through this, they can run quickly and go for the kill efficiently.