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If you’ve ever rubbed your dog’s ears, then you know how much it can feel good for a pup! You may have felt your dog really lean in to his ear rubs, close his eyes and let out a big, happy sigh.
My Mini Poodle Baloo has started to kind of incorporate that into his morning routine. Right before we go for our morning walk, I usually have him sit, attach the leash to the collar and then give him a little cheek scratch.
He seemed to love that so much that he’s now pushing his ears and cheeks against my hand when I tell him to sit.
Of course, he’s so cute that I can’t resist his demand… So now, he gets a bit of an ear scratch almost every morning.
But why is that? Why do dogs like their ears rubbed so much?
Why Do Dogs Like Their Ears Rubbed?
Every dog owner loves making their dog feel good, so it’s no wonder if you and your dog get super invested in ear rubs! But you might be wondering what exactly feels so good about an ear rub to dogs.
Well, all dogs enjoy being pet, because being pet feels nice. Petting your dog also strengthens the bond between the two of you by encouraging the release of a certain hormone.
But what is it about your dog’s ears specifically that he likes so much? Let’s get into it!
There Are Lots of Nerve Endings in Your Dog’s Ears
Dogs have an incredible sense of hearing. In fact, a dog’s hearing is one of his strongest senses. Your dog can hear things you may not even be aware of.
It’s one of the many reasons why dogs bark at night—they can hear something going on that’s distracting them!
Your dog’s hearing is so incredibly keen because they have a lot of nerve endings in their ears. And, of course, not only do these nerve endings make your dog’s hearing so good. Their ears are also more sensitive to your touch.
That’s what makes it feel so good for your dog when you rub his ears!
There’s an area of scientific study called reflexology that provides maps of nerve endings in various body parts. Learning more about reflexology will help you find the best ways to massage your dog’s ears—and other parts of his body.
Ear Rubbing Releases Endorphins
Stimulating nerve endings isn’t the only thing that’s happening when you rub your dog’s ears. You’ll also be stimulating certain parts of your dog’s brain.
When you give your dog a nice ear massage, you’ll be activating your dog’s hypothalamus and pituitary gland. Your dog’s hypothalamus is what helps control your dog’s sleep, tissue function, and mood. The pituitary gland helps regulate blood pressure, growth, and innumerable other aspects of the body.
When you stimulate these two parts of the dog’s brain, this encourages a release of endorphins in your dog. These are feel-good hormones that can even help reduce feelings of pain, and cause feelings of euphoria.
They Get High on Their Own Hormones
When you give your dog a good ear rub, you probably notice his body melt and relax, or his eyes closing or rolling back in his head.
This is because the endorphins that your dog’s brain is releasing aren’t just making him feel physically good. They’re making him feel high, too!
They’re the same hormones that are released when you exercise.
If you’ve ever heard the term “runner’s high,” it’s in reference to the hormones released during exercise that can make you feel emotionally elevated.
The same thing is happening to your dog when you rub his ears.
I love it when Baloo literally seems to melt away when I rub his ears. Like, he’s the most relaxed ever when I hit the right spots!
How to Make the Best Use of Ear Rubs
Ear rubs feel super good for your dog. There’s no doubt about that! And because they feel so good, there are ways that you can use them to achieve some positive results for your dog.
Here’s how you can use your dog’s ear rubs to your dog’s advantage. And to yours too!
Ear Rubs Help Your Dog Relax
Massaging your dog’s ears produces a lot of good feelings by stimulating the sensitive nerve endings there. And since rubbing his ears encourages your dog’s brain to produce more endorphins, this helps him feel good and relaxed.
This makes ear rubs a really great way to de-stress your dog! If you’ve been in a situation that’s caused your dog a lot of anxiety, then settling down for a few minutes of ear rubbing may be helpful.
Giving your dog a nice ear rub during a visit to the vet can also be a good way to help your dog feel calmer during these visits.
Plus, if you’re in a situation where you want to reward your dog but don’t have any treats on hand, ear rubs make for a great alternative.
Having a bit of a hyper dog? Download my free guide for a calm dog to learn how I got my hyper Mini Poodle Baloo to calm down.
It’s a Nice Bonding Ritual
Petting your dog has plenty of benefits for both of you. And one of them is that it will strengthen your bond.
This is because petting your dog encourages both of your brains to release a certain hormone. This hormone, oxytocin, is often called the “love hormone.”
Oxytocin also helps to strengthen bonds between people and animals. So, ear rubs a really nice bonding ritual, since they feel extra good!
Just bear in mind that not all dogs like having their heads touched, especially dogs that come from abusive backgrounds. Keep an eye out for any submissive behaviors in your dog to make sure this ear rub is something he actually wants.
You Can Include Ear Rubs in a Dog Massage
Just like they do for humans, massages can have a seriously positive impact on a dog’s overall health.
Massages encourage relaxation, lessen the amount of stress and anxiety your dog is feeling, help increase circulation, and promote overall feelings of wellbeing.
If you have an older dog that suffers from arthritis, then massaging him could help with his pain and stiffness.
These are just a few reasons why you should consider massaging your dog regularly if you aren’t already! And if you are, you should definitely rub his ears as part of his massage.
Why Do Dogs Like Belly Rubs?
Your dog’s ears aren’t the only parts of his body that are sensitive! If your dog rolls over and gets super happy whenever you pet his tummy, you may be asking yourself, “Why do dogs like belly rubs so much?”
The reasons are a lot of the same reasons why they like ear rubs. But there’s more to it than that.
Rubbing your dog’s belly may remind him of social grooming. This is a special kind of grooming that dogs use to communicate with each other. Plus, petting your dog’s belly stimulates the hair follicles, which feels super nice.
Dogs may also roll onto their backs to show you their bellies if they trust you. Your dog’s stomach is a really vulnerable part of his belly. If he rolls over to show you his tummy, then you should feel honored that he trusts you that much.
Just bear in mind that rolling onto his back may also be a submissive behavior. If that’s the case, then you may want to work on confidence building with your dog.
Why Do Dogs Like Being Scratched Above Their Tail?
Have you ever scratched the spot right at the base of your dog’s tail and noticed your dog acting weird? Your dog may get super happy, or look incredibly relaxed when you scratch that spot.
So why is that?
Well, the simplest answer is that the area at the base of your dog’s tail is pretty hard for him to reach. It’s kind of like getting a friend to scratch a part of your back that’s difficult for you to get to. You’re giving your dog some much-needed relief!
But scratching your dog above his tail may feel good for other reasons. Like your dog’s ears and belly, this part of his body has lots of little nerve endings. When you stimulate these nerve endings, that feels really good for your dog.
It may also encourage the production of endorphins.
Baloo definitely can’t get enough of a good top-of-tail scratch. It’s like magic to relax him. Super useful for hyper dogs!
Why Is My Dog Rubbing His Face?
Is your dog rubbing his face with his feet, or rubbing it on furniture? Well, it could be because your dog is rubbing his pheromones around to mark his territory. It could also just be because he’s itchy and is trying to scratch it.
But sometimes face rubbing can be the sign of another problem. If your dog seems to be rubbing his face excessively, then you might want to check him for signs of allergies or skin conditions.
It could also be that his collar is too tight and it making him uncomfortable. To check, you should be able to put two fingers underneath your dog’s collar.
Most dogs adore ear rubs!
And since ear rubs encourage the release of so many feel-good hormones, they help to strengthen the bond between you and your dog. And they just plain feel nice, so it’s easy to understand why!
Now that you know why rubbing your dog’s ears feel so good to him, you can use these ear rubs as part of his daily massage. You can also use them as a form of reward.
But most importantly, you can use them as a way to show your dog how much you love him.
Don’t forget to download my free guide for a calm dog to learn more strategies for a calm and relaxed dog.