Behavior Analysis: Why do dogs like belly rubs?

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One of the happiest things about having a pet is being able to rub them, especially when they are also enjoying themselves. It is a wonderful moment, as if all the troubles have disappeared.
We know that dogs seem to love belly rubs.
Normally they'll lie on their back with their tongues hanging out and their tails wagging, waiting for you to keep rubbing their bellies. But have you ever thought that when your dog does that, it's probably nervous rather than enjoyable, and that it's just showing his belly to please you?
So how to judge? How to let the dog enjoy a belly rub?

Why do dogs like belly rubs?

Why do dogs like belly rubs?

1. Simply want a belly rub

Dogs also know how to enjoy life.
If the pet owner has rubbed its belly before, and it likes that feeling very much, then it will come to the pet owner again to show that it wants to be rubbed when it wants to be comfortable.
At this time, the dog's overall feeling is very relaxed and happy.

2. Cannot scratch their own belly

Because of the way dogs are built, they can easily scratch their shoulders, neck and face, but they can't scratch their belly.
So when it gets itchy, it turns to its pet owner for help.
At this time the pet owner should not refuse, because often rubbing its stomach can also promote gastrointestinal peristalsis and improve indigestion.

3. Want to please you

When your dog shows its belly to you for the first time and you're happy with it, for example by immediately, rubbing its belly and rewarding it with a snack, it'll know you like it.
So when it wants a snack and does something wrong, it will use this method to please you.

why do dogs like belly rubs

4. An act of obedience

It's also a sign of obedience, because in the dog’s world, they would never attack an opponent who is down with its belly exposed. In fact, this is like the meaning of human surrender.
At this time, the pet owner does not need to rub the belly of the dog, or it will make the dog feel more nervous.

Before you rub your dog, it is important to know that your dog is telling you whether it is willing or forced. If it is forced, the owner should reflect on whether you are putting too much pressure on your dog.
A pose of obedience (also known as a calming sign) is an attempt by dogs to relieve each other's tension (both their own and their partner's) by showing that they are not threatening. A dog that is submissive when touched by you is actually more nervous than you because you are touching a very vulnerable part of its body!

why do dogs like belly rubs

What body language signals that your dog is willing?

In general: relaxed, side-to-side wiggling body posture, and other body coordination:
Mouth: Relax and mouth open - you may see their tongue wagging around
Eyes: open or narrowed, bright, not always staring at anything
Tail: Relax and wagging tail
Sounds made: When they "laugh", they make a quiet ha-ha, or a slight gasp, or no sound.

Instead, the body language of dogs who simply want to appear submissive will look like this:
Overall: Tense, body position falling - they may be crouching, stiff, or tense.
Mouth: With the lips pulled back in a "fear grimace", or closed mouth, a lot of licking may be seen.
Eyes: Keep the eyes wide open, stare into the distance, or turn the head with the whites of eyes visible when looking at you. Or the eyes narrowed and nervous.
Tail: May be stationary or wagging, but some dogs will also nervously clamp their tails.
Sound made: a quiet or soft purr.
Most pet owners will find it easiest to watch their dog's tail and mouth, but keep in mind that wagging a tail doesn't always mean it’s happy.
A rolled-up, stiff, fast tail wagging is not the same as a full-body, relaxed tail wagging.
Lionpapa has also written about tail wagging body language. 👉
What Does It Mean When a Cat Wags Its Tail? 13 Meanings of Cats Wagging Their Tails
Why Do Cats Wag Their Tails?

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