If your dog growls when you touch its belly, this post will show you likely reasons why and what would make them more likely.

So, why does my dog growl when I touch her belly? Likely reasons why your dog growls when you touch its belly are that it feels vulnerable, it feels threatened, it had bad previous experiences with its belly being touched, you’re being too firm or injury.

There are actually a number of possible reasons why your dog might growl when you touch her belly. However, there are some things you can consider to help figure out the main cause.

Why does my dog growl when I touch her belly?

Below are a number of possible reasons why your dog growls when you touch her belly and what would make each of them more likely.

Your dog feels vulnerable

The belly is a very vulnerable area for dogs. When you try to touch its belly, it can make your dog feel like it is vulnerable so it growls to tell you to back off. This would be more likely if your dog only growls when you touch its belly when it has not made it clear that it wants you to touch its belly. Instead, it would help to pet your dog elsewhere such as on the head.

Your dog feels threatened

The cause could also be that it becomes intimidated. It might be intimidated because of the way you approach it, how loud you are or how aggressively you touch its belly. Instead, it would help to be gentle with it and to be calm around it. 

Encouraging the behavior

It could also be the case that you have inadvertently encouraged the behavior by rewarding your dog when it does it. If you tend to give your dog things such as toys, treats or extra attention, when it starts growling, it will likely do it more in order to get more rewards. Instead, it would help to reward your dog when it does not growl and to stop rewarding it when it starts growling until it has calmed down.

Previous experiences

The cause could also be that someone mistreated it in the past, causing it to not like allowing people to touch its belly anymore. This would be more likely if you adopted it as an adult and it has always not wanted you to touch its belly. 

You’re being too firm

It might also be the case that you hurt its belly when you touched it before and now it does not want you to belly it again. This would be more likely if it stopped letting you touch its belly suddenly after you hurt it or were rough with it.

Injury

It could be the case that your dog ate something that it should not have and it has resulted in your dog having an obstruction. This would be more likely if your dog has started doing it suddenly and if your dog has been showing other signs of having a problem such as vomiting a lot, being aggressive in general, fatigue or not eating much.

It is playing

It might also be the case that your dog is actually trying to play with you. This would be more likely if your dog also does things such as wag its tail and roll around. However, typically dogs growl, when their bellies are being touched because they are being threatened. It is less likely that your dog would be growling because it is playing.

Things to consider

Below are some things to consider to help figure out the main cause.

If your dog has always done it

If your dog did not always growl when you touched her belly, it would help to consider what else happened when your dog first started doing it. If your dog started doing it suddenly, it could be due to things such as injury or a change in the way you pet it. If it did start doing it suddenly, it would likely help to take it to a vet because it might be due to a problem such as an obstruction.

The timing of when your dog does it

If your dog does not always growl when you pet its belly, it would also help to consider the timing. For example, if your dog does not growl when you pet its belly when it has made it clear that it wants its belly rubbed, it would be more likely that your dog growls when it does not want you to rub its belly.

The body language your dog shows

It would also help to consider the body language your dog shows when it growls. If it does things such as try to get you off it, show its teeth, move away from you or be stiff, it would be more likely that your dog feels threatened. Whereas, if it does things such as wag its tail, lick you and roll around, it would increase the chances that it is actually playing.

What to do about my dog growling when I touch her belly?

Below are options you have when dealing with the behavior.

Don’t touch its belly

If your dog growls when you touch its belly, it is likely that your dog does not like its belly being touched. Instead, it would help to pet your dog differently such as on the head. It would also help for you to wait for your dog to let you know when it wants you to rub its belly by rolling on its back and pawing at its belly.

Take it to a vet

If your dog has started doing it suddenly and it has been behaving unusually in other ways, it would also help to take it for a checkup. By doing so, you should be able to rule out things such as a internal blockage and get expert advice tailored towards your particular dog.

Is it bad to rub my dog’s belly?

It is not necessarily bad to rub your dog’s belly. It is only bad to rub your dog’s belly when your dog does not want you to rub its belly. However, if your dog makes it clear that it wants you to rub its belly, then it is perfectly fine.

Why won’t my dog let me rub his belly?

The belly is a vulnerable area for dogs and not all dogs like their owners rubbing their bellies. It is likely that your dog does not let you touch its belly because it does not feel comfortable allowing you to do so. Instead, it would help to pet your dog in a way that it seems to like and to observe its body language when doing so.

What to do about my dog growling when I pet him?

If your dog growls when you pet it, it would help to be gentle, to wait for your dog to show signs that it wants you to pet it such as when it comes and licks you and wags its tail and to reward your dog whenever it does not growl. If your dog seems to be doing it aggressively, it would also help to get help from a dog trainer so that you can see how to deal with the behavior in a manner tailored towards your particular dog.

Author

I created and currently manage Pet Dog Owner, the website you can go to when you have questions about your dog's behavior. It is my hope that you find Pet Dog Owner to be a helpful resource. It is also my hope that it will help you to improve your relationship with your dog. You can read more about me and my website here.