Why Do Dogs Like Belly Rubs? (And What If My Dog Doesn't?)

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When a dog rolls over and reveals their belly to you, you can't help but feel special — and, of course, give them a good scratch. But why do dogs like belly rubs? And if your dog doesn't roll over for you, does that mean your pet doesn't like you? Let's take a look at the science behind a dog belly rub.

Why Do Dogs Like Belly Rubs?

It's important to first understand why dogs show us their bellies at all. When a dog lies on their back with their belly and neck exposed and tail tucked between their legs, they're communicating to show you they trust you. They're putting themselves in a vulnerable position, exposing very sensitive parts of themselves and trusting that you won't take advantage of that.

Many pet parents interpret their dog rolling onto their back as an invitation for a belly rub. And for some dogs, that's exactly what it means. After all, getting a rubdown feels good! When you pet your dog, they release endorphins, the feel-good hormone, and their levels of oxytocin, the bonding hormone, go up, says Wag!. And, similar to a scalp massage for you, petting your dog provides them with positive hair follicle stimulation, says ZME Science. For a dog to get those good feelings from a person they completely trust — well, what more could a four-legged friend want?

A Keeshond dog lying in the grass receiving a belly rub

What If My Dog Doesn't Like Belly Rubs?

But not all dogs are actually hoping for a dog belly rub when they roll onto their backs. Some dogs, depending on their past experiences, temperament and breed, may not expose their bellies to you at all. According to the Deccan Chronicle, the majority of dogs might not even enjoy belly rubs; they might simply be indulging their pet parents because it makes us happy.

Just like people, every dog has their own preferences when it comes to how they receive love and affection. So, if your dog doesn't like belly rubs, don't worry — it doesn't mean they don't love and trust you just as much as a pup who can't get enough tummy strokes.

Maybe giving and getting belly rubs is a favorite pastime for you and your pet. Or, maybe your pup prefers to spend time cuddling, running together, playing with toys or engaging in other activities with you. What matters most to your dog is that they get to be by your side. Take some time to explore your pet's interests, then build your bond by doing those things together — whether they involve belly rubs or not.

Contributor Bio

Erin Ollila

Erin Ollila believes in the power of words and how a message can inform—and even transform—its intended audience. Her writing can be found all over the internet and in print, and includes interviews, ghostwriting, blog posts, and creative nonfiction. Erin is a geek for SEO and all things social media. She graduated from Fairfield University with an M.F.A. in Creative Writing. Reach out to her on Twitter @ReinventingErin or learn more about her at http://erinollila.com.

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