Why Do Dogs Like Belly Rubs?

Why Do Dogs Like Belly Rubs? |

Dogs love getting praised and petted when they do something good. There are also many dogs who love getting their belly rubbed.

So, why do dogs like belly rubs? Dogs like belly rubs because it makes them feel good and is a satisfying experience.

When your dog displays their belly, they are actually showing that they trust you; they aren’t afraid of making themselves vulnerable.

However, there are some dogs who don’t like belly rubs.

Why do dogs expose their bellies?

Why Do Dogs Like Belly Rubs? |
Credited: petmd

Dogs expose their bellies because they either are showing a submissive display or want a belly rub.

It’s really important to understand which of the reasons that cause your dog to expose their bellies so you know how to deal with your dog.

Submissive display

Dogs who are showing a submissive display are trying to make themselves look less threatening.

This is done when they are afraid so petting them while they are in this position will make them feel more nervous.

This is mainly due that they are afraid and, in this position, they won’t like it when you touch them while they are vulnerable.

Here are the signs that your dog is showing submissive behavior:

  • Tense body language where they will crouch and freeze.
  • As for their mouth, they will have lips that are pulled back and their mouth will be closed. They will also be licking their lips out of fear.
  • Their eyes will either be wide open staring at a distance, showing the white around their eyes as they look at you, or staring as their eyes squint and look intense.
  • The tail may either be wagging or still and will be tucked. A wagging tail, in this case, doesn’t mean that your dog is happy instead they are scared.
  • Your dog will become vocal by making soft whines.

Want a belly rub

Ever wonder why some dogs lay on their backs showing off their bellies?

These dogs actually want to have a belly rub; they love belly rubs. They enjoy it when their dog parents or loved ones give them a belly rub.

Here are the signs that your dog wants a belly rub:

  • Their body will be wiggly and loose
  • Mouth will be open and relaxed while their tongue will be hanging loosely.
  • Eyes will be squinty or open without staring at anything.
  • The tail will be relaxed and wagging.
  • They will be vocal making a light panting sound that is signaling happiness.

They will be happy when they receive a belly rub.

What is the scientific reason that your dog loves belly rubs?

Why Do Dogs Like Belly Rubs? |
Credited: Vetstreet

The scientific reason that your dog loves belly rubs is due to them having a brain neuron that responds when you rub their hair on their bellies.

When their hair is stroked, they will feel happy and glad that their bellies are rubbed.

Should you rub your dog’s belly?

Rubbing your dog’s belly depends on your dog’s personality and comfort level; it differs from one dog to another.

If your dog likes to get their belly rubbed, they will enjoy it. However, if they don’t like getting their belly rubbed, they will show it through their body language.

How to give your dog a belly rub?

Step one: Look for signs that your dog wants a belly rub

Your dog will show signs that they want a belly rub. They will look relaxed and comfortable wanting to get a belly rub.

Observe your dog’s behavior when they are laying down on their back wanting a belly rub.

If your dog is nervous, don’t rub their stomach; however, if they show relaxed body language, they want to have a belly rub.

Step two: Rub your dog’s stomach

After your dog displays their stomach comfortably and relaxed, you can begin rubbing their belly.

As you rub your dog’s stomach, they will begin to show behaviors such as. They will show signs such as:

  • Your dog may involuntary kick when you rub their stomach.
  • Gentle rubbing of your dog’s stomach is best for them so they don’t feel comfortable. They will love it when you rub their belly in circles or long motions up and down.

Step three: Stop when your dog feels uncomfortable

Watch out when your dog doesn’t want to get any belly rub. Signs that your dog wants you to stop belly rubs happen when they get up or move away from you.

They will display these behaviors when they want to feel uncomfortable.

Why do dogs kick their legs when getting a belly rub?

Why Do Dogs Like Belly Rubs? |
Credited: Dogsora

Dogs kick their legs during a belly rub because of their scratch reflex. This is an involuntary reaction where they will also feel confused when it happens.

When you rub your dog’s belly, it activates their nerves that are connected to their spinal cord making their leg muscles involuntary kick.

Why do some dogs bite when rubbing their bellies?

Your dog is uncomfortable with you

This is a major sign where your dog doesn’t feel safe or trust you.

They may be nervous or anxious that they show this as a sign of submission so that you stay away from them.

Because of their fear, they may actually bite due to feeling afraid.

Animal abuse

When your dog has been abused in the past especially if they are a rescue dog, they will feel afraid when you rub their belly.

They fear any type of petting or rubbing because of their physical abuse.

Touching their belly reminds them of the painful experience that they had.

So, they go from their relaxed behavior to a defensive one.

Not liking the way you rub their belly

You may be rubbing their belly in a way that they don’t like. Observe how your dog reacts when other family members or loved ones rub their belly.

If they do like it, you can watch them to know how to rub their belly.

Never intentionally roll your dog on their back to rub their belly. Let them roll themselves naturally so they don’t feel pressured and to not lose their trust.


Your dog may be in pain that they don’t like it when you give them a belly rub.

There may be an underlying condition in their belly that is causing them all this pain or they may have pain from other areas in their body.

Conditions such as arthritis, inflammation, or tumor can make your dog be in pain.

If your dog suddenly turned aggressive toward you, go to the vet immediately so you can treat them from this condition that they may have.

When is rubbing a dog’s belly bad?

Why Do Dogs Like Belly Rubs? |
Credited: The Spruce Pets

Rubbing a dog’s belly is bad when it is done excessively for attention, out of habit, and at important times such as when you train your dog.


Some dogs will roll themselves over their back when they see anyone. They do so when they want attention and affection from people.

You must teach your dog to not roll over their back for anyone so they don’t become too trusting of all people who may cause them harm.

Undermine reinforcement of commands

When teaching your dog new commands, you must have their complete focus so they stay in the position that you asked them to do.

For example, if you ask your dog to “sit” or “stay”, rolling on their back for a belly rub will cause them to switch from their position.

This will make it hard for them to learn the commands effectively; there will be a mix-up between what commands to do and when you are praising them.

Related questions

1.) Why does your dog follow you everywhere?

The reasons that your dog follows you around are reinforcement, breed traits, companionship, and separation anxiety.

Reinforcement happens when a dog associates a person with good things such as food, petting, and praise so they grow attached to them and will follow them everywhere.

Speaking of food, have you checked our guide to the best food for your puppy here? Make sure to check it out, especially if you have a large dog.

Some dogs have genetic traits for keeping closeness with people who share with them a strong bond.

They may also feel a sense of companionship with the people that they have close bonds with.

Your dog may also have separation anxiety if they become clingy and follow you around before you leave behaving in a way that shows that they don’t like it when you aren’t with them.

2.) What does it mean when your dog licks you?

Dogs lick you to show affection to their dog parents. Another reason that a dog licks you is that they like the taste of their dog parent’s salty skin and out of habit.


Many dogs will love belly rubs because it makes them feel happy, comfortable, and good.

However, you got to know when they are anxious while they showing their belly and when they do want a belly rub so you know how to deal with your dog safely.

Not all dogs love getting their belly rubbed. Some actually don’t like it so you have to never force your dog into something that they don’t want.

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