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Why Do Most Dogs Love Belly Rubs?


Sedona, Arizona

January 9, 2021


I found this information on the Internet so it must be true, right?


While there might not seem to be anything scientific about a belly rub there has been evidence supporting why our dogs love them so much. Dogs and other mammals have a specific brain neuron that responds to the stimulation of hair follicles. That reaction helps explain why our dogs love being pet so much.


The reaction is achieved through the stroking of hair, so it can make belly rubs uniquely satisfying to your dog. Why mammals developed this special reaction is unclear, though evidence suggests that the stroking of hair encouraged good hygiene through social grooming.


Dogs shake or kick their legs when you scratch them because of something known as the scratch reflex. It’s a completely involuntary reaction, which explains why your dog may look as puzzled as you do when it starts to happen. When you scratch your dog’s belly, it irritates him, much the same way that the wind or a bug might. It activates nerves under his skin that are connected to his spinal cord and relays a message to his leg muscles to kick in an attempt to get rid of the irritant. Of course, you’re the one both providing the “itch” and “scratching” it, so it’s a completely pointless act.


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