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Are dogs ticklish?

Author: Charlotte

There’s nothing cuter than finding that sensitive spot for your pup that makes them roll over, smile, and keeps them coming back for more. But are dogs ticklish? Is this them showing us where they like to be rubbed and ‘tickled’? Is it indicating something else?

The first thing to think about is what it really means to be ticklish (for us and for them)!

What does it mean to be ticklish?

We all know what it feels like. It starts off with a little yelp, perhaps a laugh, and then develops into a form of torture. In my case, it often ends with a foot in someone’s face too. But do our dogs react the same? How are they ticklish?

Generally a ‘tickle’ for our pups in an involuntary reaction to being touched – whether that’s by us, a small insect, or something else. This ‘scratch reflex’ lets them know that something is on their skin, which could bite or sting them. It’s quite common when scratching your dog, that this reflex will kick in as the nerves are stimulated. This might be the area shaking a little, or them automatically scratching it with their legs.

How to tickle a dog?

Just like humans, not all dogs are ticklish in the same spots. But, also just like humans, the belly is a good place to start. Other good areas are on their chest, the base of their tail, their back legs, and ears.

A sure way to know whether your dog is ticklish is to read their body language. When you tickle a dog, it doesn’t (or at least shouldn’t) make them squeal as it does for humans. They should smile, obviously be enjoying it, keep coming back for more, and even roll over onto their backs. This is a submissive position letting you know they feel comfortable around you and are enjoying the tickle session.

If your dog seems not to be enjoying it, you should check for any skin rashes or other medical conditions that might be causing it. But also remember that not all dogs like it and that’s ok!

Is it ok to tickle all dogs?

When asking yourself are dogs ticklish it’s important to realize that not all dogs are the same. Some may have trust issues, not like being touched, or be particularly anxious. Whilst tickling can be a great way of you bonding with your pup and creating an even stronger relationship, you should always respect the dog and not force it on them.

If you’d like to enjoy a good tickle session with your dog who perhaps isn’t too sure, you need to start slowly. Make sure they’re somewhere they feel comfortable and are relaxed. Start by gently stroking them and read their body language and facial expressions to indicate when you’ve hit a spot they particularly like. 

Tickling can be a great way of you bonding with your pup. It gives them (and quite often you!) pleasure whilst strengthening trust, friendship and closeness.


Does your dog like being tickled? Comment where their favorite spots are!

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