Can Dogs Be Tickled?

Can Dogs Be Tickled?

You probably can't resist giving your dog a pet or two when they roll over on their back. You can tell you've scratched the right spot when they are wiggling around and acting ticklish.

Dogs possess the same nerve endings on their skin as we do and most likely feel something similar to a feather-light movement across the skin when touched in the right spot. The scientific name for the tickling sensation is called knismesis.

"Dogs are often ticklish on their bellies or sides," says Dr. Mary Burch, Ph.D., a certified applied animal behaviorist. "All my recent dogs seemed ticklish when I scratched their sides. Some dogs are ticklish on their ears, neck, or back."

While dogs can't laugh out loud like we do when tickled, they may react by panting or sighing. Less sensitive dogs may yawn as if they were bored by the act.

How a dog handles tickling depends on how receptive they are to it during puppyhood. An adult dog who wasn't tickled much or didn't enjoy it as a puppy may feel anxious when you do it to them. Medical issues could also affect a dog's reaction to tickling.

Usually, it's best to read a dog's body language to your touch to know whether to continue or stop. If you try tickling your dog and they walk away, they are politely asking you to stop.

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