If your dog won’t let you touch its belly, you might be wondering why and what you can do about it. This post will show you a number of possible causes and what you can do about each of them.
So, why doesn’t my dog let me touch its belly? Common reasons why your dog does not let you touch its belly are injury, intimidation, rubbing its belly too hard or bad previous experiences.
There are actually multiple reasons why your dog might not be letting you touch its belly and it might be due to a combination of reasons. However, there are some things you can consider when figuring out the main cause and there is a number of things you can do about it.
Reasons why your dog won’t let you touch its belly
Below is a number of possible reasons why your dog has been doing it and what would make each of them more likely to be the main reason.
The cause could be that it has injured its belly. This would be more likely if your dog has stopped letting you touch its belly suddenly, it cries or flinches when you touch it and you were never rough or intimidating with it. In this case, it would be best to take it to a vet.
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.
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.
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.
Rubbing its belly too firmly
Some dogs just do not like being touched and it could be the case that yours does not like it naturally. This would be more likely if it has always not wanted you to touch its belly.
Encouraging the behavior
The cause could also be that it has learned that it gets rewards when it does not let you touch its belly. If you tend to give it things such as toys, treats or extra attention, when it does not let you touch its belly, it will likely do it more in order to get more rewards.
Things to consider
Below are some things to consider when figuring out the main reason why your dog has been doing it.
Consider its body language
It would help to consider what sort of body language your dog shows when it does it. If it shows signs of being anxious such as by making itself appear smaller, hiding or trying to move away from you, it would be more likely that it is intimidated. Whereas, if it behaves normally but flinches or changes its behavior only when you touch its belly, it would make injury more likely.
How old it is
It would also help to consider how old your dog is. If it is a puppy, it would be more likely that it does it due to being intimidated or not understanding what you are doing. Whereas, if it is an adult, it would be more likely to be due to past experiences.
What else happened when your dog stopped letting you touch its belly
If your dog did let you touch its belly before, it would help to consider what else happened when it stopped letting you touch it. If it stopped letting you touch it suddenly, it could be because it injured its belly or because you hurt it when you touched its belly.
What is different when it does let you do it
If your dog does let you touch its belly sometimes, it would help to consider what is different when it does let you touch its belly. For example, if it does not let you do it when you approach it in a certain way, it might be because it is intimidated.
What to do about your dog not letting you rub its belly
Below are some options you have when dealing with the behavior.
Take it to a vet
If your dog has started doing it suddenly and it has been showing signs of being injured, the best option would be to take it to a vet. By taking it to a vet, you should be able to rule out medical causes and to get expert advice tailored towards your particular dog.
Be more gentle
As mentioned above, it might be the case that you have been being too forceful. Instead, it would help to rub its belly gently.
Avoid provoking it
Often, dogs will behave more aggressively when they are intimidated. If it does not like having its belly touched, it would also be important to be careful when trying to touch its belly.
Positive reinforcement training
Positive reinforcement training involves encouraging the behaviors you want to see by rewarding your dog when it shows signs of displaying them. To use it to get your dog to let you touch its belly, you would make it seem like you want to touch its belly and reward it if it does not flinch, then gradually build up to actually touching its belly.
Avoid encouraging the behavior
As mentioned above, it could be the case that it has learned that the behavior gets rewarded. Instead, it would help to reward it when it does let you touch its belly and to avoid rewarding it when it does not.
If your dog has been being anxious a lot in general and it will not let you touch it at all, it might also help to get help from a dog behaviorist. By doing so, you should be able to see what has been causing the behavior and what you can do about it.