Canine Body Language: Some Dogs Don’t Want Belly Rubs!

Does your dog like belly rubs?

Many dogs really enjoy having their tummies scratched. However, if your dog routinely offers their belly up when approached, it could also have a very different meaning.

Which of the dogs below would welcome a belly rub, and which ones are asking you to leave them alone? Can you tell the difference?

Mona Lisa

Mona Lisa













Dogs who truly want their bellies rubbed will be loose and floppy, with soft eyes and wiggly bodies. If your dog appears tense, looks away from you, has wide eyes (or whale eyes), licks her lips, or shows other signs of stress, she’s probably asking you to back off. This body language is known as a “tap out” or “inguinal exposure,” and should be respected by giving the dog space to feel more comfortable.

How well do you speak dog? Let us know which dogs you would give belly rubs to and which you would leave alone in the comments section below!

75 responses to “Canine Body Language: Some Dogs Don’t Want Belly Rubs!

  1. Tina Wolverson

    From these photos…. Donovan, Boomer and Harry are all saying not comfortable. Keeping in mind I’m interpreting from a single snap shot and even though I can not see some of their faces ….to me all of the rest have soft relaxed bodies.

  2. I agree with Tina, with the added comment that Bob looks like he found something really interesting to roll in, LOL!

  3. umm,,, i think Layla might have fallen asleep? our 4 yr old Lab Mix looks like this all the time, and if we rub his tummy he dozes off :)

  4. Pingback: Is the dog really asking for a belly rub? | Theo Stewart – ‘The Dog Lady’

  5. Reblogged this on Wag it! and commented:
    Great article! It’s very important to read dog’s body language and not just assume they want to be touched (especially by strangers)

  6. If I really had to (not really fond of getting so close to unknown dogs when they’re belly up), I would give belly rub to Mona Lisa and perhaps Boomer. Donovan is lip licking, Layla is busy scratching her back, Abraham has that crazy, playful look that may trigger nipping perhaps, Bob is busy rolling, Harry has whale eyes. Now, not sure if the whale eyes and other signals are triggered by the camera.

  7. YES:
    Mona Lisa..layla. ..Bob…Boomer (?)

    Donovan…Abraham. ..Harry

  8. Layla, Mona Lisa and possibly Boomer. (Although Boomer looks like he just woke up and that’s how he likes to sleep. He doesn’t look like he’s specifically asking for a rub. His tum is just visible.)

    Bob is going straight into the tub, no questions asked. That’s the “I just found horse $#@! to roll in!” look…

  9. Pingback: Theo Stewart – Today’s PAWS for Thought: Does the dog really want a belly rub?

  10. Pingback: Weekly Woof from the Web | AniEd Ireland

  11. My little rescue (three years now) loves to be scratched and belly-rubbed. However, after a couple of minutes (several minutes), she will snap at us. We pull our hand away, and she always comes back for more rubs. Kind of weird. Can’t read this reaction – she wants to be rubbed and scratched but snaps – sometimes baring her little teeth and making contact if we’re not quick enough. What do you think? She also has to lean into my legs if we’re sitting in the bed and needs to sit with me in any chair.

  12. Pingback: The 5 Easiest Tricks To Teach Your Dog - Dog Boys

  13. Pingback: The 5 Easiest Tricks To Teach Your Dog | DogBoy's Dog Ranch

  14. Pingback: Seu cão gosta de carinho na barriga? – Seu Buldogue Francês

  15. Pingback: Seu cão gosta de carinho na barriga? | Seu Buldogue Francês

  16. I would give all of them space with the exception of Layla and possibly Bob. He has soft eyes but his body is not relaxed. I’d wait a bit to see how he is really feeling. All the others need space.

  17. Mona Lisa, Layla and Bob are up for tickles, Donovan, Abraham and Harry aren’t and I’d want to see what Boomer was doing before and after the picture was taken although his body and face are soft his ears are back but it’s just a moment frozen in time so could be either.

  18. Last year a momma dog we didn’t know well appeared in our yard and went belly up. I now know she was requesting space, as I believe we startled her. Realizing she had recently had pups, we assumed she was asking us to help her. We earned her trust and a day later we were able to rescue her and her pups, about 2 weeks old. We briefly fostered them until HARTT could take them and her, then shortly after they took puppy daddy too. He happily slept belly up, but he knew us better than his puppy momma did. They are living best lives ever in Michigan now, thanks to HARTT Rescue, the Love Train and HSHV.

  19. Pingback: Why Do Dogs Love Belly Rubs?

  20. Pingback: How to Recognize if Your Dog Likes Tummy Rubs –

  21. Pingback: How to Recognize if Your Dog Likes Tummy Rubs –

  22. Pingback: Why Do Dogs Like Belly Rubs - The Lovable Dogs

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s