Why Do Dogs Like Belly Rubs?

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why do dogs like belly rubs

You’ve probably given your dog a belly rub or two during quiet time. But what exactly is it about belly rubs that dogs like so much?

There are a few reasons why belly rubs are so enjoyable to your dog. Here’s everything you should know about rubbing your dog’s belly.

Why do dogs like belly rubs?

One of the best ways for a human and dog to bond with each other is through some good old-fashioned petting! Your dog probably loves being petted, and it’s nice for you to see your dog happy.

When your dog is ready for a little affection, he might roll over to get you to rub his belly!

But why exactly does he do this? And why do dogs like belly rubs so much?

There are several reasons why your dog enjoys getting his belly rubbed!

For dogs, a belly rub stimulates a very sensitive area on his body. If he’s asking for it by rolling over, this will feel very good for him. Doing this will release serotonin and oxytocin in his brain, which relax him and strengthen your bond—and you will likely feel the same.

Before we get into them, make sure you take a look at these related articles about some other confusing dog behavior:

Most dogs love a good belly rub every now and then
Most dogs love a good belly rub every now and then!

Because it feels so good!

The number one reason why your dog likes belly rubs so much is because it feels good!

Dogs like to be petted because when you rub them, it stimulates the hair follicles. That feels really good to them! Some areas of their body are more sensitive than others—like their bellies.

That means that as long as you’re doing it right, a belly rub can feel extra good to a dog.

Many dogs will ask to have their bellies rubbed. You can tell if your dog is asking if he rolls over and shows you his belly.

Once he does this, you can spend a little time bonding with your dog by giving him a good belly rub!

Looking for other ways to make your dog happy? Take a look at these related articles:

A good belly scratch just feels sooo good
A good belly scratch just feels sooo good!

Shows his trust in you

A dog’s belly is one of his most vulnerable areas. His belly is what protects his internal organs, and if he gets injured there, it could cause serious harm!

Dogs will usually only show their bellies to people they really trust. So if your dog rolls over to ask for a belly rub, it means he knows that you’re not going to hurt him.

Dogs are also very intuitive, and your dog might be able to tell that you like giving him belly rubs. He’ll roll over and ask for a rub because he knows that it makes you just as happy to do it!

A belly rub can also mimic social grooming in dogs. This refers to the way that dogs will lick or groom each other as a way of communicating. One dog might lick another to say, “I’m not a threat to you,” or “I want to be friends!”

But it can also be an act of submission

Many dogs love getting belly rubs simply because it feels so good and helps to strengthen the bond with their owners.

But rolling over and showing their bellies isn’t always a positive thing in dogs.

When dogs are feeling submissive, they’ll try to find ways to say that they’re not a threat. Showing you his most vulnerable place is his way of doing this.

A submissive dog isn’t a good thing. It’s important to help your dog learn to be more comfortable and confident.

You can usually tell if a dog is showing you his belly out of submission. He will refuse to let you pet him. If he’s feeling submissive, he may roll away from you, or stand up and walk away.

On the other hand, if your dog rolls over because he’s happy and wants affection, he’ll accept the belly rub gladly.

If you’re looking for some advice on submissive behavior in dogs, check out these articles:

Some dogs might roll onto their back as a sign of submission. Make sure to observe their body language
Some dogs might roll onto their back as a sign of submission. Make sure to observe their body language!

How to give your dog a good belly rub

There are lots of reasons why dogs like belly rubs. It’s nice for both you and your dog because it helps to strengthen your bond!

If you want to give your dog a belly rub, here are a few tips you can use to make sure it’s a really, really good one.

1. Wait for your dog to ask for a belly rub

The first step to giving your dog a good belly rub is to wait for him to ask.

Belly rubs might feel good to your dog, but if he’s not asking for one, it’s probably not the right time to give one.

You wouldn’t like it either if someone started doing that without you asking!

So how can you tell if your dog is asking? Simple! Just wait for him to roll over onto his back and show you his belly. Once he does, you can try petting it. If he holds still, he’s probably asking for more.

If he moves away, though, then he probably wasn’t asking for a belly rub.

2. Kneel down next to him

The next step to giving your dog a really good belly rub is to get down on his level. You don’t want to be standing over him, since that could feel threatening. You want to make this a positive experience and help your dog feel nice and relaxed!

So kneel down next time him instead of hovering high above him. If you and your dog are both comfortable enough, you can get even closer to his level by lying down next to him.

Doing this will help your dog feel more relaxed while you’re rubbing his belly. He’ll feel comfortable and safe!

Kneel or hunker down to get closer to your dog's level.
Kneel or hunker down to get closer to your dog’s level.

3. Start with gentle strokes on his belly

Some dogs like a nice, vigorous belly rub. But not all dogs do! And even if your dog does like his belly rubbed a little harder, you’re not going to want to start with that right off the bat.

Start with some slower, gentle rubs on his belly. Make sure you’re paying attention to how he’s reacting to them.

Once your dog starts feeling more relaxed, you can start rubbing a little harder to see if he likes it!

4. Observe his body language

Whenever you’re petting your dog, the most important thing to do is to pay attention to his body language.

One of the primary ways that dogs communicate is through body language. They can’t tell you with words what they’re feeling, so they have to use their bodies instead!

If your dog is staying there and not trying to move away, that’s probably an invitation to keep going.

On the other hand, if he’s trying to get away from your hand, that’s a major sign that it’s time to stop. Other signs like your dog growling also indicate that he’s not really enjoying this belly rub.

Always pay attention to your dog’s body language to ensure that both of you are comfortable with what’s going on.

5. Try adding a chin or ear scratch

Dogs don’t just like having their bellies rubbed. Most dogs like having almost all parts of their bodies rubbed!

You can help make your dog’s belly rub experience even better by giving him a couple of scratches in other places. Lots of dogs like having their chins scratched. Give your dog a little chin rub to see if he likes it!

Many dogs also really like having their ears rubbed. A dog’s ears are another highly sensitive part of his body. You can take a break from the belly rubbing for a second and pay attention to areas like your dog’s ears and chin to make your petting session even better.

6. Pull back your hand and see if he asks for more

One of the best ways to determine if your dog really is enjoying what you’re doing is to see if he asks for more.

Rub his belly for a few seconds, and then take your hand away. See how he reacts once your hand is gone.

Does he get up and walk away? Or does try and get you to keep going?

If he seems to be asking you to keep rubbing his belly, then it’s pretty safe to assume that he really likes what you’re doing!  

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Dog belly rubs FAQ

Belly rubs can seem a little confusing to us humans. But hopefully now you understand why dogs like them so much, and how to give your dog a really good one.

You may still have some questions about dogs and belly rubs. Here are the answers you’re looking for.

Why do dogs love belly rubs but cats don’t?

Most dogs love belly rubs. Granted, there are some dogs that don’t seem to enjoy them very much, but most dogs love getting in some belly rub time with their humans.

But what about cats? Cats don’t seem to like belly rubs, even though they may roll over and show you their bellies.

It all comes down to two things. First, cats rolling onto their backs to expose their bellies can actually be a defensive position. If something is attacking them, it puts them in a better position to do those “rabbit kicks” you may have seen.

Second, cats have more nerves all over their bodies than dogs do. That makes their bellies even more sensitive, and more easily overstimulated.

Some cats do like belly rubs, as long as they’re gentle and don’t last too long.

Why do female dogs like belly rubs?

Female dogs like belly rubs for all the same reasons that male dogs do! Getting a belly rub feels really nice, and it helps promote feelings of wellbeing and relaxation.

Belly rubs are also a good way for dogs and humans to spend some time bonding with each other.

If your female dog asks you for a belly rub, spend a little time with her to help build up your relationship!

It doesn't matter what sex your dog is—he or she probably loves belly rubs.
It doesn’t matter what sex your dog is—he or she probably loves belly rubs.

What does a belly rub feel like to a dog?

There’s no way for us humans to know exactly what a belly rub might feel like to a dog.

But we can guess at some of the feelings dogs might have when they’re getting their bellies rubbed!

A belly rub feels calming and relaxing to a dog. They help your dog feel a general sense of well-being.

Your dog probably also feels very safe when he’s getting a belly rub from you. His belly is one of his most vulnerable parts. So, having you touch it means that he feels comfortable enough around you to be more vulnerable.

Why do dogs like ear rubs?

Why Do Dogs Like Their Ears Rubbed?

The answer to that question is easy! It’s because it feels good!

Your dog’s ears have a ton of nerves around them. When they get rubbed, that feels really good to your dog.

Just like belly rubs, ear rubs also get your dog’s body producing a lot of feelgood hormones. If you want to help your dog relax, a little ear rub is a great thing to try!


Many dogs like belly rubs, and they’re a really great way to help a dog relax and show your dog you love him. Next time your dog asks you for one, it’s a great idea to spend a few minutes rubbing his belly.

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