How to Tickle a Dog?

How to Tickle a Dog

How to Tickle a Dog?- Tickling is an involuntary act that all dog owners find themselves doing when they see their dogs lying on their backs with their stomachs exposed.

The cute squirming elicited by simply wiggling your fingers over your pet’s body is endearing to watch. Tickling is a fun way to spend some time with your dog indoors.

However, as a new dog owner, you may find yourself wondering how to tickle a dog without aggravating it.

While it is fun to tickle, you may be concerned if tickling your dog is a comfortable experience for it. It provides mental stimulation but can only be done for a couple of minutes at the most. Depending on your dog’s behavior, it may or may not prefer tickled.

Are Dogs Ticklish?

The response to tickles is an involuntary reaction caused in the midst of light rubbing or scratching your dog’s body when you reach a spot that makes them react differently to the rest of the rubbing session.

Responding to tickles is a feature that has been observed in various animal species like apes, rats, penguins, and dogs.

There are two kinds of tickles that bring out different reactions; knismesis and gargalesis. Knismesis is the light tickle that is similar to the movement of bugs on the skin and causes goosebumps and involuntary reflexes. Gargalesis is a stronger motion on the skin that causes laughter.

How Do Dogs Respond to Tickling?

Tickling provides stimulation to the nerves, resulting in a reaction. Dogs respond differently to tickles as compared to humans. While humans react to tickles with laughter, dogs do not giggle or laugh.

According to research, dogs must be light on the skin to respond to your tickles.

Kicking its Hind Legs

Scratching the belly of dogs commonly results in kicking their hind legs. This is because the nerves underneath the skin are connected to the spinal cord, and the stimulation causes them to kick. Behaviorists recognize this to be a way through which dogs protect themselves from pests like mites that cause itching on the belly.

Knee Jerk Reactions

If you notice a reflexive action like a knee-jerk reaction in humans while scratching any part of your dog’s body, you may have stumbled across a tickle spot. Movement without reason is a major sign of being ticklish and a common response to tickles.

Head Tilting

Tickles cause dogs to squirm, just like humans. While the part being tickled may be the belly, ears, or nose, it almost always causes head tilts as the spinal cord sends the reflex message across the body.

Rhythmic Movement

Another giveaway sign of being ticklish is moving in the rhythm of the tickles. If you find it difficult to identify ticklish wiggles from general squirming due to annoyance, pay attention to the rhythm of the movement of its legs, tail, and head.

Moving Backwards

While on their backs being tickled, dogs try to move away to stop being tickled. This also happens due to wiggling caused by nerves.

Sticking its Tongue Out

An open mouth with the tongue sticking out signifies a dog comfortable with getting tickled. This is a sign commonly understood as your dog being happy.

Rolling Back of the Eyes

Rolling its eyes back is usually accompanied by sticking its tongue out and is a definite sign of finding comfort and pleasure in the activity.

Giving Greater Access

If your dog is enjoying being tickled, it will likely position itself to allow the greatest possible access to areas that can be tickled. This can be by rolling onto its back, side, or scooting closer to you.

Dog Tickle Spots

Dogs have several ticklish spots, including the belly, chest, armpits, and the base of the tail. Some dogs also have sensitive areas around their ears and neck that they enjoy being tickled.

To find your dog’s tickle spots, gently run your fingers over their body and watch for signs of enjoyment, such as wagging their tail or squirming.

Once you have found a ticklish spot, use your fingers or a soft brush to gently tickle the area. Be careful not to tickle your dog too hard or for too long, as this can cause discomfort or irritation. Instead, focus on gently tickling your dog in a way that brings them joy and relaxation.

Under the Belly

The area under the belly is perhaps the most common ticklish spot in most animals. Since the surface area is greater, the number of nerve endings present is higher, making the response faster.

The Base of the Tail

The base of the Tail is not a usually stimulated area on your dog’s body, which is why even a slight movement to brush its Tail can feel unfamiliar and make it feel ticklish.

Ears, Chin and Nose

Dogs are naturally aggressive creatures that are domesticated to keep as pets. Like other animals in the wild, they do not prefer to let humans touch their faces. In the case of pet dogs, you may notice that your dog squirms while getting its face groomed.

This may be a sign of a tickle spot on the face. Usually, the tickle spots on the face are the ears or the nose. Scratching underneath the chin is another spot where you can get your dog to wiggle.


Like the belly, the chest is also a large surface, making the likelihood of finding a tickle spot higher.


You may have noticed that your dog squirms and moves back when you try to wipe the dirt off its paws or dry them. Like the feet of humans, this is a common tickle spot.

Having read this information, you may notice that most of these spots are areas that your dog cannot scratch by itself, leaving them less stimulated than the reachable spots on its body.

How to Tickle a Dog?

Tickling a dog is perhaps the easiest task to engage with your pet. Finding whether or not it enjoys it is also easy based on its immediate response. All you need to do is keenly observe your pet.

Step 1: Find a Suitable Area

Clear out a section in any room, ensuring that the surface is smooth and free of any irregularities. This is to keep your dog from getting hurt if it chooses to lie down or move away if it is uncomfortable.

Step 2: Position Your Pet

Command your dog to sit or lie down on the floor. This will give you the greatest possible access to most of the surface of its body. This can also be done by distracting your dog with some chew toys or interactive toys kept on the floor.

Step 3: Slowly Scratch its Body

Apply gentle pressure to scratch its body, taking notice of its response. Scratching or rubbing makes dogs relax, making its body loosen up and slump closer to the floor.

Step 4: Check for Reflexes

As you scratch, take notice of any involuntary movements that can be a reflex, as stated in the list above. To double-check, go over the part abruptly in the midst of scratching a different area.

Step 5: Keep a Watch for Discomfort

Checking for signs of discomfort is just as important as finding its tickle spots.

What are the Signs of Discomfort?

Keeping an eye out for any signals that your dog is not enjoying the activity is an essential part of this stimulation.

If you see that your pet recoils its body away from you and tenses instead of relaxing during the rubbing session with a tucked tail, your dog may not be engaged. Growling is another sign that your dog may give to indicate its discomfort.

Even if your dog’s response is positive and you are able to find its tickle spots, keep the session brief. Dragging the session for too long is also a reason that could annoy your pet irrespective of its sensitivity to tickles.

Medical Issues of Tickling

Tickling is not just a stimulating activity used by pet owners. Veterinarians use tickling to test the speed of reflexes to diagnose any neurological disorders during medical tests.

If your dog appears to be in pain and is unable to relax during such sessions, this may be a sign of an underlying issue that requires your vet’s attention.


Even a gentle rub or scratch is likely to make rashes more painful. If you notice any rashes on your dog’s body, immediately stop the scratches and take them to a vet to diagnose the problem.

Skin Issues

Inflammation of the skin due to dryness or sensitivity to allergens may cause your dog to be snappy and dislike your effort to tickle it.

Sore Joints

Pains due to sore joints are only aggravated when touched unnecessarily. If you notice your pet being less active than usual and whining in pain, immediately get a vet to inspect your pet.

Flea Infestations

Discomfort caused by the infestation of parasites like fleas and mites is only increased by subjecting your pet to unasked rubbing. Beyond knowing how to tickle a dog, it is more important to be aware of signs to stop and issues to beware of.

Aapt Dubey
Aapt Dubey

Aapt Dubey, a devoted canine enthusiast and experienced dog Owner, brings boundless passion to our team. With a heart full of love for our four-legged friends, Aapt is dedicated to sharing insights on dog care, behavior, and training to make every pup's life happier and healthier at

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