How to Scratch a Dog's Belly

Two Parts:Learning If Your Dog Wants a Belly RubScratching Your Dog's Stomach

If you've been around a dog chances are you've scratched a dog's stomach. Most dogs love a good belly rub and will actively seek one out from people they trust. However, not all dogs are comfortable with belly rubs and you should respect the ones that aren't. By learning what to look for before rubbing a dog's stomach you can keep your furry friend happy.

Part 1
Learning If Your Dog Wants a Belly Rub

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    Look for signs that your dog wants a belly rub. Most dogs want their stomachs scratched or rubbed and it's generally fine to do so. However, some dogs are not comfortable with this and you will have to look for the signs that your dog is happy to have its belly rubbed before doing so.[1]
    • A dog will lie down, presenting its stomach and wagging its tail to show it's comfortable with you.
    • Your dog should look relaxed and will lay down without tension in its body.
    • A dog looking for a belly scratch may roll around playfully on its back.
    • Presenting its stomach can be a sign of trust from your dog.
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    Look for signs of submissive or nervous behavior. Some dogs will present their stomach out of fear or submission. These dogs do not actually want their stomachs rubbed and you should avoid doing so. Look for some of the following signs of submission and fear in your dog and avoid rubbing its stomach if they are present.[2][3]
    • Dogs who are afraid will often tuck its tail in between its legs.
    • Nervous dogs will take on a hunched and tense posture.
    • Fearful dogs will likely not move much after they present its stomach.
    • Submissive and fearful dogs may growl at you if you approach them.
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    Don't force a belly rub. If your dog appears uncomfortable or you are unsure about your dog's level of comfort you should avoid scratching its stomach. Forcing an uncomfortable dog to allow you to scratch its stomach can cause unneeded stress for the dog and can even result in it biting you.[4]
    • Never try to flip your dog on its back to rub its stomach.
    • Always allow your dog to present its stomach on its own.
    • Forcing a belly rub can make your dog mistrust you.

Part 2
Scratching Your Dog's Stomach

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    Wait for your dog to present its stomach. Before you can scratch your dog's stomach you will need to wait for it to show its stomach to you. While you could try to make it roll over, forcing the belly rub is not a good idea. Play with your dog and calmly wait for it to show you its stomach for scratching.[5]
    • Always wait for your dog to show its stomach.
    • You dog will naturally roll over and present its stomach if it wants a belly rub.
    • A dog who wants a belly rub will appear loose and relaxed in regards to its body language.
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    Rub or scratch the dog's stomach. After your dog has presented its stomach and you feel that it is comfortable and relaxed you can begin to rub its belly. As you rub the dog's stomach keep an eye on its behavior, looking for signs of enjoyment or discomfort.[6]
    • It's normal for some areas of the stomach to cause your dog to kick when you scratch them.[7]
    • Always scratch or rub gently as the stomach is a sensitive area on a dog.
    • Feel free to rub your dog's stomach however you'd like. Try rubbing in circles, short scratches, or longer motions up and down the whole length of your dog's stomach.
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    Stop when you are done or your dog becomes uncomfortable. After you have scratched your dog's stomach for a while you may decide it's time to stop. Your dog may try to get more belly rubs out of you and it's fine to continue if you want. However, if your dog tries to get up or move away from you it is time to stop.[8]
    • If you stop rubbing and your dog moves away from you it is time to stop scratching its stomach.
    • Feel free to stop scratching your dog's stomach any time you wish.
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    Scratch or rub other areas on your dog. Although dogs love a good belly rub, they also enjoy receiving attention on other areas of their bodies. Try petting, patting, rubbing, or scratching some other places on your dog to see what they might enjoy. As always, work slowly, touch gently, and make sure your dog is truly enjoying it.[9]
    • Your dog might enjoy a rub or scratch under or around its ears.
    • Most dogs will like a good neck rub or scratch.
    • A dog might enjoy it when you scratch its chest.
    • Try scratching under your dog's chin.
    • A dog might like it when you scratch the area of its back just above where its tail starts.


  • Always be gentle with your dog, especially if it is a small breed.
  • Stop immediately if your dog growls or appears to be in pain when you are rubbing its belly.
  • Never force a stomach scratch.
  • Make sure your dog is comfortable with a belly rub before doing so.

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Categories: Dog Grooming