Why Do Dogs Kick When You Scratch Them?

No dog lover can resist doling out a good belly rub when their pup flops onto the floor and shows their stomach. Its always your goal to find that magic spot that gets their leg moving like Thumper in Bambi. When you find it, and your dogs leg starts going crazy, you assume youre giving them exactly what they asked for.

Regular belly rubs (the ones that dont involve leg kicking) are still enjoyable, and the feeling of their owners affection overshadows all else. Tensing their muscles, pinning their ears, and keeping their mouth tightly closed are also things dogs do when theyre uncomfortable or irritated.

As long as your dogs body language is saying all good things, theres no reason to stop doling out leg-kick-worthy belly rubs.

Does scratch reflex hurt dogs?

Scratch Reflex. It doesn’t hurt your pup, and she’s not trying to tell you to stop scratching. … The origin of this reflex isn’t completely clear, but it’s likely the reflex developed as a way to stop annoying pests such as fleas from getting a foothold on your dog’s skin.

Why do dogs start kick when you scratch them?

A cluster of nerves located under the skin makes up the dog sweet spot. When you scratch your pet’s tummy and hit this spot, these nerves get activated and send a message to the hind leg, via the spinal cord, to start kicking in an attempt to dislodge the source of irritation.

Do dogs like it when you scratch their back?

And just like those hard to reach places on our backs, dogs love having that spot scratched as well. … This area at the base of your dog’s tail is full of sensitive nerve endings. As such, the scratching sensation in this area is quite pleasurable to our canine companions.

Why do dogs spread their back legs when you pet them?

There’s no known scientific reason why some dogs like to it, but it’s most likely because stretching their back legs is a comfortable position. They may also do it on a hot day to press their bellies closer to the cool pavement or shaded grass to lower their body temperature.

Have you ever noticed that when you scratch your dogs belly, something unusual occurs? It happens every time you hit the sweet spot. You know the one. Suddenly, your dog starts kicking his back leg like hes running on his side.

Nerves under the skin connected to the spinal cord relay a message to your dogs leg to kick without it having to pass through the brain. Its the same type of reflex that occurs when your cat lifts its butt high when you scratch the tails base.

If your dog enjoys a good belly rub, continue to reward them that way.

If youve got a dog that loves belly rubs, as many of us do, than youve no doubt found the sweet spot that gets his leg kicking. This usually happens when you scratch him in his saddle region the belly, sides, and parts of the dogs back. The exact spot varies depending on the dog. Some dogs have several spots that get their legs moving.

Theres pretty much no doubt that dogs love to be pet. Theyve become masters of the puppy dog eyes for a quick scratch behind the ear and know if they lay down on top of your feet, they just might even get a belly rub. However, with all your dog scratching and petting expertise you may have noticed your dogs back leg doing a crazy kick depending on where you pet them. So what really is this karate move that occurs every now and then? Could it be some sort of doggie sign language? Or maybe a new dance craze we missed? We decided to put aside our speculation, and do some ruff digging, to find out the real facts about why your pooch kicks and twitches. As it turns out, when you pet and scratch your dog in certain spots youre stimulating a scratch reflex a natural reaction your dog cant seem to pawtest against. The kicking motion is involuntary caused by nerves, connected to your dogs spinal cord. The nerves relay a message to his leg muscles to kick and jerk in an attempt to get rid of an irritant. Roosevelt Animal Hospital located in Port Jefferson, New York to find out. The veterinarian reassured us that dogs wouldnt lie down and expose their bellies to be scratched if they didn’t enjoy it but to also keep in mind that, just like people, some like being touched and scratched more than others. As long as your dog isnt showing signs of aggression or discomfort, pet away!

We spoke with Dr. Zangara of Roosevelt Animal Hospital located in Port Jefferson, New York to find out.

The Scratch Reflex

Reflexes are involuntary movements that allow the body to react to something before the thought has time to reach the brain. Some reflexes are for balance, like the one your doctor tests by hitting your knee with their special hammer, and others are for survival and protection, like putting your hands in front of you when you fall or blinking when a bug flies into your eye.Dogs have reflexes too, and one of them is responsible for the belly rub leg kick. It’s called the scratch reflex, and according to Animal Planet, it’s what dogs do when something is irritating them. Under your dog’s soft belly skin, there’s a complex network of nerves. Those nerves communicate with the spinal cord to send a message to the leg that it needs to move. Researchers think its main purpose is to tell the dog it needs to scratch away pests that could end up causing them harm. It’s a command they have no choice but to follow, and they have no control over when it starts or how fast they kick.

Do Dogs Even Like It?

Now that we’ve compared your belly rubs to an irritating pest, you’re probably rethinking everything you thought you knew about your pet-pleasing skills. It’s easy to assume that a fast-moving leg is a sign your dog is enjoying their belly rub, but science says that’s not always the case. It’s like your doctor hitting your knee cap over and over. It doesn’t hurt, but it’s also pretty annoying. Some dogs only tolerate being scratched in that special spot because they’ve learned to submit to what their owners want.At the same time, however, there will always be dogs that LOVE belly rubs. They love them so much, they don’t care about whatever their leg is doing. Regular belly rubs (the ones that don’t involve leg kicking) are still enjoyable, and the feeling of their owner’s affection overshadows all else.

It’s All in the Body Language

To figure out how your dog feels about being scratched in their special spot, pay attention to the rest of their body language. If they try to move out of your way or roll back onto their stomach, that’s an obvious sign they’re not enjoying what you’re doing. Tensing their muscles, pinning their ears, and keeping their mouth tightly closed are also things dogs do when they’re uncomfortable or irritated.If your dog is happy to keep showing you their belly and lets their tongue loll out of their mouth, there’s a good chance they’re enjoying their belly rub as much as you think they are. They know they have your full attention, and there’s nothing better than that. There’s also the possibility they thoroughly enjoy the feeling of having their scratch reflex triggered over and over.

The Scratch Reflex Redux

What happy dog doesn’t love a good belly rub? Most pet owners will agree that their pets love being scratched. They all have their favorite spots. For most, the belly is a favorite – from the smallest to the largest dogs, it’s true. And what happens when you scratch…sometimes your dog’s back leg starts to shake or kick. These kicks, caused by the belly scratch, look like a running or swimming motion.