Why Do Dogs Like Belly Rubs?

young man and dog

My name is Greg the German Shepherd, it is so great to meet you!

As a German shepherd, I am larger than many dogs and I have a large personality to match it too.

I am such a lovable boy who likes nothing more than having a fuss from my human parents and friends. 

If you have met other lovable dogs like myself, you have probably noticed that we love to roll on our backs when you are giving us a fuss. I have even been known to involuntarily move my leg when I am scratched in my favorite belly spot too – how embarrassing!

I am the perfect dog to write this article as I love having my belly scratched, though not all of my doggy friends enjoy this as much as I do.

In this article, I will be talking about why dogs enjoy belly rubs, and answering your questions.

Why Do Dogs Like Belly Rubs?

Right, I am going to be completely honest with you, most of us dogs enjoy belly rubs because it feels good. Not only does it mean that we are being fussed by our favorite humans, but when you scratch our bellies, it makes us calm and happy too! 

There is no specific doggy science behind this, other than that it feels nice, just like when you give us a scratch on our head or side! While it could be linked to our hair follicles and the stimulation of them, the majority of dogs just like the feeling of having their belly rubbed! 

Although, if your dog does not enjoy belly rubs, please do not make fun of them, we cannot all love the same type of fusses! Just like some humans hate having a back massage or their feet tickled, it is the same for us dogs too! 

Do not force belly rubs if your dog does not enjoy this as it should be a pleasant experience for them. Instead, why not give them a scratch behind their ear instead – I am sure they will enjoy that!

Why do dogs like belly rubs but not cats?

As I am a dog, I cannot be 100% sure that this is the correct answer, but from talking to the few feline companions that I have shared homes with, cats enjoy fusses differently to dogs. 

While I particularly enjoy having my belly rubbed, the majority of felines do not because they show their tummies in a defensive manner rather than in a welcoming one.

As all humans are different, all animals are too. While us dogs enjoy belly rubs and will often invite you to pat our bellies, cats do not enjoy belly rubs, and it can even make them feel threatened or stressed out.

Given this, I would recommend that you give cats a scratch underneath their neck instead. You do not want to get an unexpected scram from a cat – trust me I know!

Why does my dog roll on his back when I approach him?

There are two main potential reasons why your dog is rolling on his back when you are approaching him. Depending on your dog and its personality, the reasoning behind this can vary. 

Typically, your dog is either doing this to give you permission to give their belly a rub, or they are doing this as a way of submitting to you.

It is important to know the difference between the two, so you know how to best respond to your dog. The last thing you will want to do is to give your dog a belly rub if they are submitting to you and are not comfortable with this. 

If you are giving your dog a fuss, and they lie down and roll on their back, the likelihood is that they are giving you permission to give them a belly rub. Before doing so, you should always ensure your dog is comfortable with this. 

If your dog has been a bit naughty, and you have told him or her off, they may roll on their back to show that they are submitting to you.

Dogs may also do this if you are playing with them and are approaching them. They are typically telling you that you have their respect. As some less confident dogs will do this, it is important that you respect your dog’s personal space.

There are other reasons why your dog may roll onto their backs, such as scratching an itch they cannot reach with their paws, and to regulate their body temperature. Dogs sometimes roll on their backs when they are comfortable and sleeping too. 

In addition to this, some dogs roll on their back and lie still to try and show dominance over you or another animal, they are waiting for you to come near so that they can play fight. This behavior should be addressed to ensure that it does not get out of hand. 

Is it bad to rub my dog’s belly?

This really does depend on the situation. If you know your dog enjoys a belly run and has rolled over for you to give them a belly rub, then this is fine.

However, if your dog is tense and does not enjoy belly rubs, you should avoid this. 

Rubbing a dog’s belly when they do not like this can cause them to become anxious. It would be rude to approach a human and tickle their armpits, so belly rubbing should only occur when a dog is happy and comfortable with this.

Manners are so important! 


I hope that you have found this article interesting. As you can see, the majority of dogs like belly rubs because they feel nice, and we enjoy being loved and fussed by our owners! 

However, always remember that not all dogs enjoy belly rubs, and this is okay! If your dog does not enjoy belly rubs, you should be respectful of this and fuss them differently instead.