One of the most blissful things about being a pet owner is cuddling and belly rubbing. Belly rubs are to dogs what hugs are to humans – a more intimate form of physical contact. 

Does your dog like belly rubs? Does your dog flip over and ask you to rub its belly as soon as you scratch its ears? It is an indication that they love you. Dogs like it as much as they want to chew on a bone or chase a cat. But ever wondered why. Why do they love it so much? Why do some dogs never ask for it? Is there any scientific logic? This article will answer all your questions.

Is it Submissive Behaviour?

Well, many people label it as submissive behaviour. But do not forget that dogs show this behaviour only to those whom they love or trust. So, you can call it a sign that your dog trusts you if it asks you for a belly rub. Belly rub means that they are ready for social grooming, and they are showing their vulnerability, and it means they trust you. When they don’t sense any threat from you, they offer it this way. 

From your dog’s posture, you can understand if it shows submissiveness or is asking for a belly rub. Dogs that actually want a belly rub will show you the following signs: 

  • Overall wiggly body postures
  • Relaxed or open mouth 
  • Open or squinty eyes; they wouldn’t be staring at anything 
  • Light panting sounds or a quiet laugh 
On the other hand, a submissive dog exhibits the following signs-

  • Closed mouth
  • Tongue licking
  • Tucked-in tail, or slightly wagging tail, telling you of its doubt
  • Tense body
  • Soft whining
  • Eyes wide open, whites of the eyes showing
If your dog shows these symptoms, it’s not ready for a belly rub.

Why Do Dogs Love Belly Rub?

First, because it feels good. Duh! Second, it is a place they can’t scratch or rub on their own. Third, it causes stimulation in hair follicles. It wakes up a neuron in their brain, making them feel happy. Also, it helps them rub their back and shoulders. Even humans love it when someone strokes their hair, scratches their back, kneads their shoulders. It’s relaxing and comforting. That’s how dogs feel. Some dogs jump up fast and lie on their back so you will rub their bellies. The signs that a dog show for a belly rub is-  

  • They wiggle a lot, their tail fanning behind them.
  • They will come smiling at you, their mouth wide open and tongue flicking out.
  • Their eyes look bright and happy as if they are happy seeing you and want to show you some affection.
  • You can hear the dog making happy sounds, and you will understand that the dog is ready for a rub.
  • Their tail is the most tell-tale sign. If it’s tucked under, don’t touch the dog, and let it judge you. 
How To Give a Good Belly Rub?

Not that your dog will complain, but some dogs just give up on the habit if their parents do not know what their pet needs. Make sure that you are doing it right. Here are the steps to give your dog a nice belly rub.

  • See if your dog is asking for one. The above signs will tell you if your pet is ready.
  • Look into your dog’s eyes. They know if you are relaxed and happy and, in a mood, to show some love. Sit in front of your furry friend. 
  • Start rubbing their belly in slow circular motions, with your palms open. Don’t use nails. 
  • If your dog loves it, it will lie down on its back. If it doesn’t, stop petting.
  • If your pet asks for it again by giving you its paw, it likes what you did. Do it again and use different motions to see what they love best. 
It is something personal between you and your furry pet. 

What if My Pet Doesn’t Like Belly Rub?

Don’t be surprised; some dogs do not like a belly rub. But fret not; it should not be a cause of worry. Not all dogs are the same, and not everyone likes a belly rub. Some dogs might want you to pet them on the head, rub their ears, rub their forelimbs slowly, or pat their back. Some might like sitting beside you to strengthen your bond and show their trust. If you rub your dog’s belly and it does not smile, you have got your cue. It is uncomfortable if it tucks its tail or looks relaxed after the belly rub is over.

Please never force your dog to lie down on its back. Going against their wishes makes them trust you less. If your dogs want something, it will tell you or at least indicate it to you in the best possible way. If it does not, you must look for the signs.

Why Do Dogs Kick Their Legs During Belly Rub?

Most people stop rubbing the belly if a dog starts kicking, taking it as a signal to stop. However, it may not always be true. Just like humans laugh when tickled, dogs kick their legs when scratched. It is called a scratch reflex. So, if the dog kicks its hind legs, you have only scratched the surfaces, which irritates, causing this involuntary kicking.

It is also important to state here that if you are meeting a dog for the first time, don’t go straight in for a belly rub. It is advisable to start with head rubs and then take it forward from there when you’re sure the canine has warmed to you. 

Wrap Up

Every dog is unique. All of them have their own habits, likes and dislikes. Your dog might like belly rub too much, and you will know it. If it doesn’t like it, forcing it will be wrong.