9 Surprising Reasons Dogs Love Belly Rubs! (Scientific & Funny)


Ah, belly rubs! Chances are your dog loves them. Your pup might look like he is in a world of ecstasy after getting a good rub; experts have identified countless benefits ranging from relieved anxiety to fun entertainment.

Affiliate links may be in this post. . . .

But what might surprise you is that there are even more reasons why dogs love belly rubs than meets the eye!

Let’s explore all of these reasons—both scientific and humorous—that explain why dogs can’t get enough of those furry little tummies scratched.

Dogs And Their Love For Belly Rubs

So, how many dogs actually enjoy belly rubs? Know that while most dogs may love a good belly rub, not all dogs will. In fact, we have run a number of polls asking pet parents if their canine companion likes belly rubs, and here is what we found out.

Twitter Poll

Fact, 91% of 177 dog owners on Twitter report their pooch loves a great belly rub.

YouTube Poll

dog poll: does your dog love belly rubs?

Interestingly enough, the same results occurred when polling our YouTube community. 91% of 380 dog parents report their dogs like belly rubs.

Live Poll

Now it’s your turn to participate, Answer this poll to be a part of the study!

9 Reasons Dogs Love Belly Rubs

Wondering, why do dogs love belly rubs? Here are the nine real reasons…

1. Special Neurons (MRGPRB4+)

The first and most obvious reason dogs love belly rubs is that it feels good. Why is this?

It turns out there are special neurons that are activated only through hair follicle stimulation, aka massages. This was discovered in lab mice where a rare type of neuron called MRGPRB4+ was stimulated only through the gentle caressing of the lab mice instead of other ways like poking. Here is what researchers found out, according to Discover Magazine,

The mice also showed fewer signs of stress afterward, which led researchers to believe the sensation was both pleasurable and calming. 

This is why our pets love being petted, it just makes them feel good!

2. They Can’t Reach Their Belly

The next reason dogs love belly rubs is that they can’t reach their own belly! Dogs typically spend a lot of time licking and grooming themselves, but their tongue can only reach so far. This means that there are often areas of their body that they can’t properly groom. Belly rubs give dogs the opportunity to have this area of their body properly cleaned and massaged.

3. It Releases Endorphins

Another scientific reason dogs love petting is that it releases endorphins. Specifically, this endorphin is oxytocin, the feel good hormone. And reduces the stress hormone cortisol. When you give your dog belly rubs, you are triggering the release of endorphins, which can help to improve your dog’s mood and make them feel happy.

Read: 33 Affectionate Dog Breeds Perfect For Apartment Living! (With Pictures)

4. It Can Help Relieve Stress

Dogs can also benefit from belly rubs in terms of stress relief. If your dog is feeling stressed or anxious, a belly rub can help to calm them down and make them feel more relaxed. This is due to the fact that belly rubs help to release endorphins, as well as other hormones that are associated with relaxation, such as oxytocin.

5. It Improves Circulation

Belly rubs can also help to improve circulation in your dog’s body. When you massage your dog’s belly, you are promoting blood flow to the area, which can help to improve overall circulation throughout the body. This is especially beneficial for older dogs who may suffer from poor circulation and this could be a reason your dog is asking for one!

6. It Can Help With Digestion

Belly rubs can also be beneficial for dogs who suffer from digestive issues. If your dog is having trouble digesting their food, a gentle belly massage can help to stimulate the digestive process and get things moving along more smoothly. Additionally, massaging the abdomen can help to relieve gas and bloating. So if your canine had just eaten they may be asking for a tummy rub in order to help out with their digestion 🙂

don bonding with kid

7. Bonding Experience

Dogs love belly rubs because they provide an opportunity for bonding with their owner. Dogs are social creatures who crave attention and affection from those they love. When you take the time to give your dog a belly rub, you are showing them how much you care about them and strengthening the bond between you.

This bonding happens becuase of the release of hormones, not only for your pooch but for you as well. When you touch your dog, just like touching a human, the feel-good hormone oxytocin is released, causing a stronger connection or bond between you and the person or animal you’re loving on. This is the same hormone that is released when a mother cuddles with her newborn baby.

Read: 21 Loving Dog Breeds Under 25 Lbs Who Are Great With Kids! (With Photos)

8. It Can Help to Relieve Pain

If your dog is in pain, a belly rub can help to relieve it. The pressure points on the belly can help to release endorphins, which are natural painkillers. Additionally, physical contact can help to provide comfort and reassurance.

Read: How To Tell If Your Boston Terrier Is in Pain (10 Signs)

9. They Love the Attention

Dogs love belly rubs because they love attention. When you’re focused on rubbing their belly, they know that they have your undivided attention, and they love it!

Read: 15 Surprisingly Simple Things That Will P!$% Off Your Dog!

Funny Videos of Dogs loving BELLY RUBS!

Here are three funny videos of dogs in action getting their belly rub on!

1. Dogs Begging For Belly Rubs

Watch this compilation video of dogs begging to get their bellies rubbed.

Dogs Begging For Belly Rubs

2. Puppies’ First Belly Rubs Ever!

Watch these cute Labrador puppies get their very first belly rub!

Puppies’ First Belly Rubs Ever!

3. Dog Interrupts Soccer Game For Belly Rub

Watch this dog interrupt a soccer game in order to get a tummy rub! Try not to smile!!!

Dog Interrupts Soccer Game For Belly Rub

Signs Your Dog Wants A Belly Rub

There will be some subtle and not-so-subtle body language indicating your dog wants a good belly rub.

  • Rolling over on their back
  • Paws up in the air
  • Tilting head to one side
  • Enjoying their ear being scratched
  • On their backs with their paws in the air, legs kicking, and mouth opened

It’s important to remember that not all dogs like belly rubs, so if your pooch doesn’t seem interested or shows signs of discomfort, it’s best to respect their space and not force them into something they don’t want!

I don’t think I want a belly rub right now.

Signs Your Dog Does Not Want A Belly Rub

It’s important to pay attention to your dog’s body language. Here are some signs your dog may not enjoy their belly rubbed right now.

  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Flattening their ears
  • Growling or barking
  • Yawning excessively
  • Rolling away from you
  • Showing the whites of their eyes
  • Tail tucked under them

How to give the perfect belly rub in 5 steps

1. The first step is to find a comfortable spot for your dog. If your dog is lying down, you can either sit or kneel next to them. If your dog is standing, you can either stand next to them or put them in a sitting position.

2. Once you have found a comfortable spot, gently place your hand on your dog’s belly. You may want to start with just one hand at first and then progress to using both hands once your dog is comfortable.

3. Begin rubbing your dog’s belly in a circular motion. You can go clockwise or counterclockwise, depending on what your dog prefers.

4. Pay attention to your dog’s body language and adjust the pressure of your rub accordingly. If your dog seems to be enjoying it, you can increase the pressure. If they seem uncomfortable, you can lighten up the pressure or stop altogether.

5. Once you’re finished, give your dog a treat and some verbal praise to let them know they did a good job!

Why do dogs kick their legs when getting a belly rub?

This is an involuntary response and a natural impulse called the scratch reflex. This reflex is similar to the one doctor’s are testing when they tap your knee to see if your knee jerks.

Do dogs get pleasure from belly rubs?

Yes, many dogs get pleasure from belly rubs. This is for several reasons it is a form of affection, it can help relax muscles and relieve tension, and it can reduce stress and anxiety.

Do dogs enjoy scratch reflexes?

Yes, 90% of dog owners report their dogs love belly rubs. It turns out that scratching certain points on their bodies can result in an incredibly positive response. From the base of their tails, behind the ears, or even their chests – these are all wonderful places to give your pup some extra love.

Dogs have nerve receptors just like humans do and when stimulated in their vulnerable parts you will have a happy dog guaranteed to get you some dog rolls with their mouth wide open and tongue flopping!

Do belly rubs mean a dog trusts you?

Absolutely! Belly rubs show that your pooch feels secure enough in your presence to put themselves in a vulnerable position. Because when a dog lies on their backs sensitive parts are exposed, showing you a sign they trust you. That’s their way of telling you that they feel safe and loved. Don’t forget, dogs are incredibly social animals so they recognize when someone or something is part of their pack.

Are belly rubs a sign of submission?

Belly rubbing is not a sign of submission. This is your dog wanting and needing quality time with you!

When a dog shows submissive behavior to humans, like when they roll onto their backs to indicate appeasement display, there are usually other cues given indicating that this is NOT your dog asking for a belly rub.

Other submissive cues could be:

  • Lowering their head
  • Putting their tail between their legs
  • Peeing
  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Making their bodies smaller to appear less intimidating

If your dog is displaying these cues it is probably best to stop petting and give them space. Anxious dogs displaying submissive behavior may be more likely to bite out of fear.

Final Thoughts

So, there you have it—several answers to the age-old question, why do dogs love belly rubs?! If you’re ever feeling low and need a pick-me-up, just ask your pup for a belly rub. Chances are, they’ll be more than happy to oblige!

Read: Every Dog Breed Ranked By Weight (3 lbs to 170+ lbs)!

Donnie Gardner

Donnie Gardner is the owner of the Boston Terrier Society. He has been raising Bella the Boston since 2010. He resides in Kansas with his wife, daughter, and Bella. His favorite activities are hanging out with family, traveling, running (but has bad knees), and reading non-fiction books.

Recent Posts