Why Do Dogs Like Belly Rubs So Much?

There seems to be nothing that dogs love more than belly rubs. When they are at their happiest, a belly rub seems to be the icing on the cake of their enjoyment. 


So, why is this? Why do dogs like belly rubs so much more than regular petting? This article will explore these questions and several more. 

Why Do Dogs Like Belly Rubs?

Let’s tackle the central question right off the bat. Why do dogs like belly rubs so much? Well, the answer is simple. Belly rubs feel good for your dog


This is due to how it stimulates their hair follicles and the bonding moment it provides between you and them. However, it really all just comes down to the fact that they feel good. So, this seemingly complicated issue really isn’t all that complicated. 

A dog lying on the floor while looking up

Why Do Dogs Flip to Their Backs?

One behavior that people often associate with belly rubs is when their dog rolls over onto their back. However, this behavior doesn't always mean that the dog is asking for a belly rub. In fact, there are multiple reasons they may be doing this. 

Submission or Anxiety

One is that it is a sign of submission or anxiety. When your dog is on its back, it is completely undefended. In the wild, this is the way dogs signal to other dogs that they are not a threat and, thus, the other dog has no need to attack them. It is essentially a way that dogs can emphasize that the other dog is in control and they are not attempting to make a power grab. 

Show Trust

In a similar way, rolling onto their backs can be a way for dogs to show trust. It indicates that they don’t think you will hurt them while they are in this particularly vulnerable position and, therefore, that they trust you. 


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Cool Down

Dogs also roll onto their backs as a way to cool down. Dogs don’t sweat, so they have to find other ways to cool off on a hot day. By rolling over onto their backs, they are allowing heat from their belly and their paws to dissipate into the air. This can lower their body temperature

How to Tell If Your Dog Wants a Belly Rub

Since there are multiple reasons your dog flips onto its back, you may be unclear when they are asking for a belly rub and when they want to tell you something else. To make this determination, you should look for a few key indicators. 


  • Excitement: Excitement is a good sign that your dog wants you to rub their belly rather than communicate something with you. If your dog is showing submission, cooling off, or communicating trust, they won’t be that excited about it. So, if their tail is wagging, if they have a smile on their face, and they seem happy, they may be asking for a belly rub. 
  • They move close to you: If your dog wants to communicate something to you, they can do it from any distance. However, to get a belly rub, they have to be near you. If they are close, it is a sign that they want you to touch them. 
  • They seem relaxed: It isn’t very difficult to tell if your dog is stressed or relaxed. If they seem tense and stressed out, they are probably showing you submission. 
  • They paw at you: If your dog is on its back and moving their paws at you, they are probably trying to encourage you to rub their belly. 


If your dog isn’t giving you signs that indicate that it wants a belly rub, don’t give it one. If they are feeling stressed, anxious, or have something else going on, a belly rub may upset them. 


Instead, try to respond appropriately to the situation. For example, if you think they are anxious, you can do something to calm them down


Related: 9 Reasons Why Dogs Eat Grass (and 9 Ways to Make Them Stop)

A cute Akita dog standing next to his owner


Giving Your Dog a Good Belly Rub

Once you’ve determined that your dog does indeed want a belly rub, you want to make sure you give them a good belly rub. You can do this by following a few key tips. 


  • Make sure they are comfortable. By laying down a pet blanket, you can prevent your pet from rolling over onto a hard surface. 
  • Wait for them to roll over. If your dog isn’t on their back, presenting their belly to you, don’t force them into this position. This can upset them and damage the trust between you. 
  • Kneel or crouch next to them. You shouldn’t tower over your dog as you give them a belly rub. Instead, get down to their height. This will make the connection between you and your dog even greater. 
  • Relax. Dogs are great at sensing human emotions. If you get next to them and are a bundle of nerves, they will feel uncomfortable. So, just relax and focus on having fun with your furry friend. 
  • Rub their belly for a short period of time. Start rubbing their belly for a few moments before stopping. Keep the time under around 10 seconds. 
  • Check their reaction. After you rub your pet’s belly for a few moments, take a few moments to see how they are reacting. This time will let you see if they really wanted you to rub their belly. If they seem upset, don’t continue to rub their belly. However, if they seem even happier, you can continue. 
  • Don’t worry about some kicking. Sometimes, the way you rub your dog’s belly will lead to an involuntary reaction from them. This will display through some kicking of their paws. If this happens, it doesn’t mean that they are uncomfortable; it just means they are exhibiting a natural reaction to your touch. 
  • Have fun with them. Once you have a good idea of how your pet feels and you are comfortable checking their reactions, just have fun. You can use this time as a way to show your pet your love for them. 


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Dogs and Belly Rubs

Belly rubs are one of the ultimate forms of treating your dogs. When they are ready for a belly rub, they will let you know. Once you know what signs to look out for, you can make your dog happy with the perfect belly rub. 


Related: 8 Ways To Love Your Dog

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