why dogs love belly rubs

Understanding Why Dogs Love Belly Rubs

Seeing our dog roll onto their back and expose their belly is one of the cutest sights imaginable. Most dogs love belly rubs. When they invite us to give their stomach a scratch, it creates a tender and loving moment for connection.

Yet, it’s important to note that not all dogs react the same way to belly rubs. Some like them, some love them, and some will even demand them! But it’s not unusual for a dog to not enjoy or respond well to them. So, rolling on their back may not mean they want a tickle, it could be a sign of something else.

In this post we’ll explore why dogs roll onto their back, why they love belly rubs, and how to give one the right way.

Why Do Dogs Show Their Belly?

Let’s look at why our dogs roll onto their back to show their stomach

This can happen for several reasons:


Dogs will show you their belly as a clear invitation to pet them. You could be cuddling on the couch or you may have returned home from a long day. But when your dog shows you their belly it’s because they want to feel their loved one’s touch.

This can be characterised by:

  • Relaxed tail
  • Wiggly posture
  • Light panting
  • Relaxed and open mouth


There are times when dogs show their belly as a display of submission. This is their way of showing that they’re not a threat.

Petting a dog showing submissive behaviour can heighten anxiety. This is because you’re rubbing them in a vulnerable area while they feel nervous.

Body language signs are:

  • Tense, low body posture
  • Soft whining

If dogs aren’t accustomed to your presence, they may roll over in a sign of submission, so know the signs!

Why Do Dogs Like Belly Rubs?

For the dogs that do love a good ol’ scratch, here’s why:


The belly is a vulnerable part of the body. This is a real sign that your dog is secure and relaxed in your presence.

A belly rub can be comforting to our furry friends and highlights the trust they put in us. The gesture shows vulnerability and helps to enhance our bond with them.

It Feels Good!

Dogs love to roll around and give themselves plenty of scratches. It’s a beautiful sensation for them which feels great!

One part of their body that they struggle to reach is their belly. This is why they love to offer it to you. And the sensation of being rubbed by their loving owner is even more special again. So, keep the rubs coming!

But if you’re going to do it, do it right…

How To Rub A Dogs Belly Properly

Here are our BusterBox recommended steps to giving a beautiful belly rub…

  1. Decide if our dogs are showing their belly out of submission or because they want to be rubbed.
  2. For unfamiliar dogs, wait for a calmer moment. Introduce yourself by letting them smell your hand.
  3. Get to their height to introduce yourself before rubbing them.
  4. Pet with affection and consideration, start with less sensitive areas to ease them in.
  5. Once settled, rub your hand in circular motions around their belly.
  6. Delight them with different tempos!
  7. Use your nails to really relieve them with a nice scratch- but always be gentle.

WARNING: once you treat your dog to this… there’s no going back! Expect to see their belly A LOT more.

Why Does A Belly Rub Make A Dog Kick Their Legs?

During your belly rub time, you may notice your dog kick their legs out occasionally. This is an involuntary movement known as the scratch reflex.

Dogs evolved this way to protect themselves against irritants that annoy them like bugs landing on their back.

The neural connections between the brain and spinal cord are activated sending the message to kick. The kick is to get rid of the irritant. So, if you notice the scratch reflex in action, it’s not a sign they’re ticklish but it does mean you’re conducting the pointless act of a neverending itch/ scratch cycle!

Final Bark

Belly rubs can be seen as the creme de la creme of scratches for some dogs. Just remember the importance of deciding whether the dog is confident or submissive.

Whether or not your dog loves to have their belly rubbed, why not continue to spoil them in other ways? Our monthly BusterBox boxes are sure to have your pal’s tail wiggling with delight!

Check out our post on why we’re the best dog treat box in the UK & Ire and see for yourself the packages we promise.

Be sure to keep your eyes peeled on our BusterBox blog and continue your journey in understanding your beloved dog.