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He Wants a Belly Rub!

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How do I know if my dog wants a belly rub? Why does my dog lie on his back?

Why is my dog lying on his back? Does he want a belly rub?

When your dog rolls onto his back and exposes his belly many people exclaim how cute it is that he wants a belly rub.

Unfortunately, this is usually not the case. Most of the time when your dog rolls onto his back he is telling you that he would prefer you to not approach, it’s kind of like a “tap out.” Often if you look closely at your dog you can see this position accompanied by stress signals like tongue flicks, a tense jaw, whale eye, and ears back. Be very careful before approaching a dog who is lying on their back, especially if it is not your own dog.

If you are unsure if your dog is rolling onto his back because he wants petting or wants to be left alone, try doing a consent test with him. This allows you to interact with any dog in a more safe manner, and teaches your dog how to ask for attention appropriately. 

The Bottom Line:
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Kuhne, F., Hößler, J. C., & Struwe, R. (2014). Emotions in dogs being petted by a familiar or unfamiliar person: Validating behavioural indicators of emotional states using heart rate variability. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 161, 113–120. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.applanim.2014.09.020

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