How to give your dog a belly rub?
Make your dog’s day with a relaxing belly rub! One of the defining characteristics of dogs is that they have a “sixth sense” for fun! Whether you just got back from work, you open the back door to the garden or maybe they hear the rattle of their leash, they’re there in a flash, ready for action.
Giving a dog a belly rub is a great way to combine their love for fun with relaxation, making this a great activity for both dog and owner/chief belly-rubber. It’s also a great way to bond with your dog and when they roll over and expose their belly its a sign of great trust and affection. Dogs love to be loved and this is a perfect way to show you care.
Note: Use caution before giving other peoples dogs a belly rub if you don’t already know them. Although most dogs have a very good nature you may catch them by surprise which can cause a bad (defensive) reaction if they don’t know you.
How to give a belly rub
You may want to start out by simply stroking your dogs ears and back, perhaps when you are both sitting on a soft surface like carpet or on the couch. Once your dog is comfortable, if he’s sitting on his back legs you can pull him into you so he slides down and lies on his side, exposing his belly. Or if he’s already flat on all fours you can gently roll him on his side and he’ll probably roll himself the rest of the way.
Start by softly scratching your dogs belly, either in long straight movements or from side to side like you’re ruffling a kids hair. After a while, try some circular massage-style motions pushing down slightly more from your palm. Get a smooth rhythm going and you will notice your dog completely relaxing, possibly flattening his head behind him,opening his mouth slightly while upside down, exposing his teeth and neck.
A dog will often be fairly still while enjoying a belly rub, so if you’re not sure you’re doing it right, try pausing mid rub. At this point your dog will often quickly paw your hand enthusiastically to keep going or lift his head to see why you stopped. This is a great sign to resume exactly where you left off.
There are no rules when it comes to a good belly rub so experiment and see what your dog likes most. You could try smooth motions with the flat of your hand, or light scratching with your fingertips. One hand is usually enough but if you have a big dog he might appreciate you using two hands for the ultimate belly rub experience.
Why dogs like belly rubs
One of the reasons that dogs like belly rubs so much is that their underside is typically difficult or almost impossible for them to scratch effectively. Like a person scratching their back, it’s just not the same as when someone else does it. Rubbing a dogs belly also has a calming effect and can work wonders especially when they are anxious about something like a loud crash outside or when they hear fireworks going off.
Many dogs find belly rubs so enjoyable that they can actually fall asleep while you massage them. You know you’re doing it right if this happens! However you rub your dog’s belly, remember to have fun with it and try different things. Look for feedback from your dog and he’ll happily signal when he’s enjoying it, wagging his tail and getting excited.
Remember though, if you go in for a vigorous belly rub your dog might turn it into a play-fight before you know it. As mentioned earlier there are no rules when it comes to giving belly rubs, but that’s not quite true. The one rule is that they must be given often!