Ever wondered why your dog loves getting belly rubs all day? We did too - and we found the answer! Let's find out why our dogs love belly rubs:
Why Is My Dog Showing Me Their Belly?
First, it's important to clarify that there are two behaviors that dogs exhibit that look the same, but are very different. Dogs will expose their bellies to us as a submissive display, or as a request for a belly rub. It's important to know which sign your dog is trying to communicate to you.
If your dog is showing submissive behavior, they are trying to relieve tension by showing that they are not a threat. Dogs may do this to you, strangers, or other dogs. By making themselves more vulnerable, they're trying to show that they are not a danger to you or others around you!
If your dog is submissive and shows their belly, it's best not to pet them. This can make them more nervous than they already may be. You'll know if your dog is being submissive if they show these signs:
- Tense, low body postures
- Lips pulled far back (don't mistake this for a smile!) and you might see a lot of lip-licking
- Eyes wide open and staring into the distance, or giving you a "side eye"
- Tail may be tucked, or tense at the base
- Quiet or soft whining
If your dog is looking for a belly rub, they'll show a variety of signs including:
- Loose, wiggly body postures
- Relaxed, open mouth— maybe even their tongue flopping around!
- Open or squinty eyes
- Relaxed, wagging tail
- Light panting sound, or silent
Why Do Dogs Like Belly Rubs?
Truthfully, it's hard to say! As much as we wish we could ask them...we can't!
One reason may be that their bellies are a tough spot for them to itch, so they need some assistance. When your dog rolls onto their back and asks for a belly rub, they might be asking you to help them out with a favor!
Dogs also love to roll around in the grass or on the carpet. When they do this, we may think they're asking for a belly rub, when in reality they're just enjoying the itch that they're scratching on their back! Either way, they're happy, so we're happy.
How To Give A Dog A Belly Rub
Sounds like a silly thing to ask, but not all dogs love belly rubs, so it's important to know when and how to give one!
First, you're going to want to check to make sure your dog even wants one in the first place. Use the above lists to determine if your dog is looking for some love, or is feeling a little nervous and submissive. If your dog isn't into it, don't push it. If they are, then proceed!
Second, you'll want to kneel down and exhibit relaxed body language. Body language is key in human to dog communication! Then, rub that belly!
This next step is important - rub or scratch their belly for 5 seconds, then stop to see how they respond. If they paw at you or stay still waiting for you to continue, then keep rubbing that belly. If they get up and leave, then belly rub time is over. Check ins like this are important to make sure your dog is still happy and having fun since they can't tell us directly.