Does your dog enjoy a good belly-rubbing? My dog Lucy absolutely loves it!
Not all dogs like it but for those that do, it’s a bonding thing says Sophia Yin, a veterinarian and animal behaviorist from California in an article I read in Parade Magazine last week about just this topic.
When you rub your dogs belly, your dog also undergoes a neurological reaction. Not only do dogs have a hard time reaching all areas of their bodies and because they are so sensitive on their bellies, human fingers feel great rubbing them there, but I’ve learned that dogs have a particular brain neuron that responds exclusively to the stimulation of hair follicles. This means, that when you rub your dogs belly, the stroking of his fine belly hairs is actually providing a specific type of stimulation in your dog’s brain. This neurological stimulation is only possible through stroking, which makes belly rubs especially satisfying.
A couple things you should watch out for however:
- When a dog rolls over, that can be a sign of fear. If you approach a dog and it rolls over, it may not be wanting a belly rub but in fact, it could respond with aggression.
- When your dog rolls over to present his or her belly and allow you to engage in a belly rub, it requires submission and trust on the part of your dog. If he isn’t ready for that, don’t try to force your dog to go along if you roll your dog over to rub her belly it can actually upset your dog and break down the trust you’ve worked to establish.
The bottom line is this. If your dog is like mine and loves a good belly rubbing, go for it! If you don’t know the dog well or you haven’t yet established a trusting relationship with your or a friend or family members dog yet, save it for later when your dog is feeling more secure.