Why do Dogs Like their Chests Rubbed?
Dogs are just one of many animals that enjoy a good chest rub, but why? After all, this area of the body is relatively exposed and not particularly sensitive, so why does it seem to bring dogs such pleasure?
The Expert View
From a scientific point of view there are a few explanations offered – most related to the tactile and olfactory senses of dogs. The strong scent glands around a dog’s neck and chest emit pheromones, or signals, that can inform other dogs as to the age, sex and emotional state of the dog. By rubbing a dog’s chest, you are releasing and dispersing these scents onto both you and your surrounding environment – encouraging a feeling of security for the dog.
An Emotional Link
If we consider that humans are natural attachment seekers, then it’s easy to understand why we enjoy stroking and rubbing our dogs. The sensations that we generate can be soothing and calming, comforting and loving. As animals, dogs crave these kinds of interactions and deliberately gravitate towards us hoping that they will receive these kinds of physical (and emotional) attentions. As such, a chest rub is an ultimate sign of acceptance.
Benefits of Rubbing
A chest rub can offer lots of benefits not just to our dogs, but to us as well. Here are just some of the advantages:
- Physically Comforting – the sensation of rubbing the chest can be simulated to a gentle massage, and provide natural relief from stress.
- Fosters Positive Behaviour – providing the dog with positive reinforcement can not only strengthen the bond between pet and owner, but also encourage good behaviour in the future.
- Socialisation – positive connections with other humans can be formed from the physical closeness of chest rubs.
The satisfaction that dogs (and us) derive from chest rubs cannot be underestimated. It is a physical and emotional connection like no other, and although there is a bit of science involved, it’s the emotions that really make the difference.
3. Do dogs prefer chest rubbing to being petted on the head?
Many dogs seem to greatly enjoy both being petted on the head and chest rubbing. Generally speaking, some dogs may prefer one over the other, but it ultimately depends on the individual dog’s personality and preferences.
2. Is it possible to overstimulate a dog’s chest when rubbing?
Yes, it is possible to overstimulate your dog’s chest while rubbing. If your dog appears to be uncomfortable or starts to show signs of anxiety or distress, stop rubbing immediately and take a break. When you do resume, do so gently and for only a short period of time.
5. Does the level of enjoyment a dog gets from chest rubbing depend on the breed?
The level of enjoyment a dog gets from chest rubbing may depend on its breed. For example, some breeds such as Labradors and Golden Retrievers may be more predisposed to enjoying chest rubs due to their more outgoing and social personality. Additionally, breeds such as Poodle may prefer less physical contact, which may result in a lower level of enjoyment when it comes to chest rubbing. Ultimately, the extent to which a particular breed will enjoy chest rubs will vary depending on the individual dog’s individual personality and preferences.