Why Do Dogs Like Belly Rubs?


Who’s a good boy?

Every dog owner knows that dogs are adorable and have a variety of quirks. From their funny facial expressions to their interesting noises, dogs always keep dog owners on their toes. There are plenty of things your dog wishes you knew, but one thing dog owners do know is that overall, dogs enjoy their belly rubs. But why do dogs like belly rubs in the first place? Dr. Katy Nelson, senior veterinarian at Chewy, gives us the scoop.

Why do dogs like belly rubs?

There are many signs your dog really does trust you, and this is one of them. “Affection is a dog’s favorite currency. When a dog is comfortable enough to roll onto its back and expose [its] belly, it can imply significant trust in you,” Dr. Nelson tells Reader’s Digest. “A comforting human touch is one of the greatest rewards they can receive. It’s also an opportunity for a bonding moment between you and your dog.” The love shared between humans and dogs is strong.

Can you rub your dog’s belly?

From dog snuggles to puppy eyes, there are many ways dogs try to say “I love you.” “Yes, if your dog enjoys belly rubs, there is no reason why you shouldn’t indulge them,” says Dr. Nelson. “If your dog seems uncomfortable with you touching its belly while rolled onto [its] back, then just let them be.” Make sure you know these 23 things you do that your dog actually hates.

Are there cases when you shouldn’t rub your dog’s belly?

You may be tempted to rub your dog’s belly, but there are a few times when you should pause and assess the situation first. “If your dog has recently had surgery, has anxiety about having their stomach touched, or has stomach or back pain, then avoid touching your dog on the abdomen and belly area,” explains Dr. Nelson. For more pet tips, here are 50 things your veterinarian won’t tell you.

What does a dog rolling over onto its back actually mean? 

You might think a dog rolling over might only be playful, but there are a variety of reasons why dogs do this behavior. “When dogs roll onto their backs, it can be a sign of submission or evidence of comfort in their current environment,” explains Dr. Nelson. “Alternatively, when playing with other dogs, it could be a strategy for fighting as it allows them to fend off bites and launch an attack.” However, if you see any of these 11 behaviors, your dog might need obedience training.

Each dog is different

Like people, what one dog loves might be something another dog doesn’t like. “Some dogs live for belly rubs and others get very uncomfortable being touched on the belly. Allow your dog to make the decision to accept physical touch and express their favorite forms of affection such as head pats or belly rubs,” says Dr. Nelson. Next, this is what happens to your dog when you say “I love you.”


  • Dr. Katy Nelson, Senior veterinarian at Chewy

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