Why Do Dogs LIKE Belly Rubs? But MOST Cats Hate Them?

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Do Dogs Like Tummy Rubs?

Why do dogs like belly rubs, but most cats hate them?

Dogs and cats are both animals that humans have domesticated. They live in our homes, share our beds, and eat from our plates. But they’re still different species with different needs. And one of those differences is how they react to being touched on the stomach.

why do dogs like belly rubs
Why Do Dogs LIKE Belly Rubs? But MOST Cats Hate Them? I Love Veterinary - Blog for Veterinarians, Vet Techs, Students

Cats will often hiss or scratch when you touch their tummies because it’s an area where they feel vulnerable—especially if it’s a human doing the touching!

But for some reason, dogs seem to love having their bellies rubbed even though they’re sensitive there too. So why do dogs like belly rubs so much?

Let’s find out!

Scientific Findings Behind Dog Belly Rubs

Do dogs like tummy rubs? Science has shown dogs like to have their bellies rubbed because the pressure triggers the release of endorphins.

If you pet a dog for ten minutes, they will release enough endorphins to make themselves feel like they have just exercised intensely.

This makes sense considering dogs don’t have sweat glands and can only cool themselves by panting, so a long belly rub could be beneficial.

In addition, many people also swear that their dog looks relaxed when being petted and is in almost a trance-like state—likely due to the endorphins secreted into their systems from all of your rubbing!

Why Does My Dog Kick His Legs When I Tickle His Tummy

If your dog’s rear legs are kicking, it is probably because it feels very ticklish on its belly, and you need to stop tickling. It could also be a sign of sickness or a sign that your dog is scared of the stimulus (i.e., you).

If your dog has had recent surgery, they may still be feeling pain in the area, and that can make them kick their legs. You should take them to see the vet if these symptoms persist.

There can also be allergies that irritate the peritoneum or nerve endings in that region. Sudden muscle spasms may also occur when a tailbone injury heals itself improperly by creating too much cartilage for support.

What Is The Difference Between Submissive Behavior and Belly Rubs

The prevalent notion that dogs rolling over desire a tummy massage is regrettably a significant cause of dog attacks due to uninformed dog owners who do not understand or can properly read canine body language.

We should all understand what our dogs are silently saying to us, and dog behaviorists believe that understanding canine body language knowledge is the key to reducing dog bites.

This is how a dog looks who is demonstrating submissive behavior looks:

  • The dog is frequently active prior to submission.
  • Dogs turn over when approached, handled, or when approaching an individual.
  • Typically, the ears are pinned or pushed back.
  • Tail coils over genitals often, or the dog urinates. 
  • When the head is angled to the side, the whites of the eyes are visible, or the eyes are constricted or blinking rapidly.
  • The dog’s muzzle is usually tense, his mouth is closed, and he’s probably doing tongue flicks.
  • When contact is established, the rear leg frequently pedals, creating connection and attempting to push your hand away with the peddling leg.
  • The body is frequently tilted to the side, either partially or wholly.

On the other hand, dogs who want a belly rub will usually display the following body language:

  • Their genitals are unlikely to be covered by their tails.
  • They’ll probably stare you down, or in the case of our dogs, right in the eyes!
  • The facial muscles will be loosened, the muzzle will be loose, and the muzzle will frequently slide down if the dog is upside down to show a slight amount of the canine tooth and front teeth.
  • Legs will be floppy or stretched out.
  • The dog will most likely be lying flat on its back, completely upside down.
  • Body twisted into postures you’d never expect to see.

Back Rolling Behavior in Dogs – The Flip Side of The Coin

Dogs roll around on their backs, and it’s not always clear why. Sometimes they do this to show submission, but other times they roll back and forth for no reason at all. This behavior is called “back rolling” or “back rubbing.”

Back rolls are a confusing behavior in dogs that can cause problems if you don’t understand the dog’s motivation behind them. In addition, if your dog isn’t showing submission when rolling over, there might be something physically wrong with them, such as an ear infection or joint issues.

To figure out what’s going on with your pup, we recommend watching its body language closely. Then, while they display this behavior, ask yourself questions about the situation surrounding the actions.

Here are some of the reasons why dogs roll around their backs:

To Disguise its Smell

A dog’s natural and usual behavior is to roll around on a smelly object. Even though dogs are domesticated, they nevertheless show instinctive behaviors that date back when their forefathers fend for themselves in the wild.

When you consider how dogs defend themselves or look back to when they had to deal with predators or rivals in the wild, rolling on a stinking object was a technique for them to mask their own scent and keep an enemy or predator at bay.

Your dog could also be attempting to eliminate an unpleasant odor, such as scented shampoo. For example, if your dog has ever rubbed against things right after a bath, the shampoo smell may be bothering them.

To Alleviate an Irritating Itch

Your dog may be rubbing against a hard object, the floor, or the bed to relieve an irritating or painful itch caused by tick bites or a skin allergy. If you’re concerned about this, examine their skin and fur for anything that might be aggravating them.

For pleasure

Your dog enjoys rolling around on its back from time to time. It might enjoy the sensation of rolling on a particular object. It could be a simple pleasure, such as a back rub if the toy has no strong scent and your dog prefers to roll on it.

What Should I Do If My Dog Does Not Like Belly Rubs?

If your pup is not a fan of being touched on their tummy, it could be because they are sensitive to touch. Some dogs may also be uncomfortable with the position or feel threatened by someone coming up from behind them.

It’s important to know what your dog likes and dislikes so you can better understand how best to show affection.

Here are some tips for getting your pup more comfortable with belly rubs:

  • Start slow– start by touching their back, then slowly move down towards the stomach area. This will help them get used to being handled in this area before moving onto the stomach itself.
  • Use dog treatsuse food as an incentive when trying to train your pet into liking something new. Offer them a treat every time they do something good, and eventually, they’ll associate the treat with whatever behavior was just performed (in this case, tolerating belly rubs).
  • Be patient- don’t give up too quickly if your dog isn’t immediately receptive to any change in routine or environment; it takes time for animals to adjust and learn new things about themselves and others around them. Patience is key!
  • Reward good behavior- reward positive behaviors such as sitting still during grooming sessions or taking medicine without fussing by giving them praise, treats, toys, etc. This will reinforce these behaviors in future interactions.
  • Watch out for your dog’s body movements– Keep your eyes peeled for warning signals. Are they staring at you with calm, kind eyes? Mouth agape…tongue jutting out? Is his body sagging and flabby? Are they comfortable with their limbs? Then a good belly rub would probably be appreciated.

Top Tips to Give Your Dog The Best Belly Rub – EVER!

Belly massages may be an excellent way to bond with your pet. It will build its faith in you, and your love connection will become stronger. There’s no reason not to promote your pet’s love of belly rubs. It’s vital to make sure they aren’t always on their backs for health reasons, but if your dog likes belly massages, go ahead and rub.

By knowing how to provide a nice belly massage, you may make your dog appreciate belly rubs even more. The following are the seven primary stages to delivering a great belly rub:

Keep an Eye on Your Dog’s Posture

Look at your dog’s posture before you start stroking its tummy. They’re feeling fairly calm and pleased if their body feels flexible and loose. On the other hand, if they appear tight, they may resist having their belly stroked.

If your dog is napping, rather than waking them up to touch their stomach, let them sleep.

Check to See if Your Dog is Submissive

Make your way over to your dog. Your dog is most likely showing submissive behavior if it rolls onto its back as soon as you come near them. Other submissive movements, like licking the lips and tucking the tail, may be associated with this submissive behavior.

These behaviors may appear to the casual observer as an open invitation by your dog to touch his tummy, but this is not always the reality.

If your dog gets submissive as you approach, it may be afraid of you and may refuse to have its stomach rubbed straight away.

Get down on the ground a little distance away from them to make them feel more at ease with you. Then, allow it to come over to you by calling out to them. When you call them, don’t try to get them to draw near to you.

Know Why Your Dog is Displaying His Tummy

Your dog’s tummy presentation could be a sign of submission, but it might also be a sign of trust or a desire to play. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to tell what kind of behavior your dog is displaying. If you’re not sure if your dog is submissive, trusting, or playful, your veterinarian can help you figure it out.

A dog that lays on its back exposes itself to danger. If you and your dog have formed a strong relationship, they will most likely let you massage their stomach.

Earn the Trust of Your Dog

You’re well on your way to stroking your dog’s stomach with ease if you and your dog have previously developed a trusting bond. However, there are a few things you may do to earn your dog’s confidence if they don’t totally trust you yet:

  • When approaching them, maintain a cool demeanor. If your dog hasn’t warmed up to you yet, being calm as you approach them can help them understand that you aren’t a danger and that they can believe your intent.
  • Instead of approaching them from the front, approach them from the side. Coming at them from the front may be scary. Instead, kneel or sit in the same direction as they are facing when you reach their side. Avoid making direct eye contact, as this may be interpreted as a form of danger.
  • You can sit by their side and softly pet them after they are more comfortable with you being near them. Talking to them in calm, soothing tones will help them feel less anxious about you touching them.

Check to See Whether Your Dog Has Rolled Over

If your dog does not roll over on its own, rubbing its stomach is probably not liked much. It is critical that you never push your dog to lie on their side; doing so may cause them to become nervous and irritable with you. Don’t rub their tummy if they don’t want you to.

dog rolling over for belly rub
Why Do Dogs LIKE Belly Rubs? But MOST Cats Hate Them? I Love Veterinary - Blog for Veterinarians, Vet Techs, Students

Stroke the Chest of Your Dog

Begin by caressing your dog’s chest before touching its stomach. Stop stroking them straight immediately if they growl or snarl when you start touching them. They’re sending you a clear message that they don’t want to be rubbed. 

Anger can be shown through growls and snarls. However, aggression might be caused by a variety of factors, including pain or behavioral problems. To figure out what’s causing the aggressiveness, your veterinarian might do a series of medical and behavioral tests.

Continue caressing your dog’s chest if they don’t exhibit symptoms of dislike when you first start touching them. You may even make them feel more at ease by weaving your fingers through their fur or hair.

Rub Your Dog’s Belly

Move your hand down its body to start rubbing its belly after your dog is comfortable with you touching its chest. They should be extremely calm by now. Make slow, sweeping motions. Speaking in low, soothing tones will aid in their relaxation.

When you touch your dog’s stomach, they could start kicking their rear legs. According to popular belief, this is not an indication that you have touched your dog’s ticklish area. Instead, the scratch reflex is an automatic response that causes them to kick their legs.

The scratch reflex occurs when nerves belonging to your dog’s spinal cord are triggered beneath the skin. Because your dog’s physiology sees nerve stimulation as an irritant on the skin, they will kick their legs automatically. Stop stroking your dog in that part of their belly and go to another location if you notice their leg starting to kick reflexively.

If you notice their body becoming stiff as you stroke their tummy but then relaxing after you stop, they’re giving you another sign that now isn’t the time.

Lastly, if your dog appears to love the belly rub but suddenly gets up and wanders away, they are indicating that they no longer want it touched. But, again, there’s no reason to be worried because this is perfectly normal behavior.

Why Do Most Cats Not Like Belly Rubs?

Your cat is stretched out next to you, its very soft belly pointing to the sky. It’s so soft and welcoming that you can’t help but reach out and press your fingers into the thick fur. But, no matter how well-intentioned you are, that move is nearly always a mistake. Most cats despise belly massages for several reasons.

The silky belly fur conceals almost all of your cat’s essential organs. They may entrust you with their lives, but that doesn’t imply they enjoy having their most private parts interfered with. On the contrary, cats have a natural tendency to safeguard their critical organs. It’s how they live in the wild, and the rules still apply today with domesticated cats who might be living in the lap of luxury.

On a cat’s tummy, the hair follicles are delicate to touch. They resemble the hairs on a cat’s tail and aid spatial awareness in cats. However, some cats may become overstimulated when you stroke your fingers along their silky tummy hair. They’d rather you stay away from their favorite pet places, such as under their chin and behind their ears.

The Final Rub

It’s not just humans who love getting a good belly rub. Dogs are crazy about them as well, and they can actually be beneficial for dogs with stress-related disorders like separation anxiety or aggressive behavior.

But while many of us find it hard to resist giving our dog the occasional pat on the tummy, most cats don’t enjoy having their bellies touched at all! Why is that?

The answer lies in how these two animals process touch stimuli through their skin. Cats have much fewer nerve endings than dogs do, which means the feel of physical contact doesn’t register for them quite so strongly.

For those who own both dogs and cats, all we ask is for more understanding when one animal doesn’t want to be petted or hugged while the other does. It’s essential always to remember each individual has feelings too!

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