Why do dogs love belly rubs? 

Dog belly rub

Many dogs love a good scratch or belly rub. Maybe even more so than playing with their favorite toy or going on a long walk. They just love to relax, lay on their back and be stroked over their belly. But, what exactly is the reason that your dog loves belly rubs so much? Or why might your dog not be interested in them at all? If you want to know more why dogs do (or do not) adore belly rubs, which dogs love belly rubs the most and how to make sure your dog has a soothing experience, please read along! 

 

What feelings do dogs get from belly rubs? 

For a dog to enjoy a belly rub, they should first of all feel comfortable with laying on their back. When they do so, it is not a sign of compliance or submission, rather they feel comfortable with their companionship. Of course, you should always look at the context in which the dog finds itself. A dog would, for instance, feel less comfortable with laying on its back when it is forced to. This can be the case when you yourself lay the dog down on its back, or if the dog is commanded to do so. In those situations, a dog will not feel comfortable, nor will it enjoy a belly rub. 

If the dog is comfortable with laying on its back, he or she will most likely really enjoy a belly rub. It is seen as comforting, due to the fact that it feels similar to social grooming. With social grooming, the feeling of being cared for is arising. This is one of the reasons why dogs love belly rubs the way they do. 

Another reason for why dogs love belly rubs, is that they get a feeling of affection. When someone takes the time to give a dog attention, they feel very loved. This feeling of comfort can return in a stronger bond between you and your dog.  

 

The love of belly rubs according to scientists 

According to scientists, there can be various reasons for why dogs enjoy belly rubs. One of the main reasons for this is that rubbing a dog’s belly stimulates their hair follicles. These hair follicles find themselves underneath the skin and cause hair growth. By rubbing the belly, brain neurons and endorphins are activated.

This gives dogs a nice and relaxing feeling. You could compare it to someone massaging your scalp or giving you backrubs. To note, this neuron can only be activated through the touching of hair. Dogs can thus only get this relaxing and comforting sensation by you petting them or giving them belly rubs. 

Dog rolling

Which dogs prefer belly rubs? 

When a dog feels comfortable, basically all dogs breeds love belly rubs. However, there are some breads or dogs with particular history that might not like it. For example, small dogs might not be as comfortable with a belly rubs due to their size. With smaller breeds, like chihuahuas, you therefore might want to sit down when giving them a belly rub, rather than standing over. This way you are not overpowering your presence.

Medium sized breeds, like Labradors, Terriers and Bulldogs, tend to be the most comfortable and loving towards belly rubs. They do not get easily overwhelmed and can roll on their back easily. Larger dogs, for example a Bernese Mountain Dog or a Great Dane, tend to also love belly rubs. However, due to their height and weight, it might not be as comfortable for them to lay on their back for a long period of time. 

Some dogs also do not like belly rubs because they feel uncomfortable in a particular situation. But, it could also be the case that they have some social issues due to their raising or history. This could cause your dog to feel somewhat uncomfortable with exposing their belly. In particular as they expose sensitive parts with laying on their back. If this is the case, you should not force a belly rub. Rather, try to create a better bond with your dog. This way he or she knows that they can trust you and that you will not hurt them. 

Similar issues arise with dogs that have been adopted. Specifically, dogs that have been abandoned or have been in a shelter for a long time, tend to have difficulties with trusting their owners. This can in turn cause them to not be comfortable with belly rubs at all. However, through training, forming a connection and taking the time, this should get lots better. Once, your dog is comfortable with laying on its si