Are dogs ticklish? Do dogs laugh and smile in their own way? Do dogs have a sense of humor to begin with? I’ve heard all of these questions from one dog owner or another of the years. This is actually an interesting area of study for me. What goes on in a dog’s mind? How do they see the world and view their place in it?
Hi my name is Mike and I’ve been training dogs for quite a while now. I’ve had the fortune to learn and work in this industry with some great people and I’ve decided to pass on some of my knowledge to you through this website. Today we will be discussing whether or not dogs are ticklish and how some of their thought processes work. Do they think and act like us at times? Lets find out!
Are Dogs Ticklish?
Ticklish in humans and ticklish in dogs can generally be seen as two different things. For one, when humans get tickled, they usually start laughing uncontrollably. This is not really the case for dogs. With a dog the response you get may be completely different. Usually they will respond with a reaction like the shaking of a leg or some other body part. They may even roll over and expose their belly while they leave their tongue hanging out.
A lot is going to depend on the dog themselves. How does your dog normally react to stimulus? Do they like to be pet? Some dogs don’t and can become overstimulated by this action. If so, there are some options but more on that later.
Bottom line is, dogs will have reactions that may seem like they enjoy what is going on or they are ticklish. Lets go over a few different things your dog may do if they enjoy what’s going on and how to avoid upsetting or overstimulating them in the process.
Are Dogs Ticklish: Areas To Try
Lets look at a few places dogs generally enjoy being scratched or tickled.
Many dogs like to be scratched or rubbed on their neck. How will you know if your dog likes this? It’s pretty easy to tell. A common sign is that they will actually lean into you or push against you when you are scratching or tickling their neck.
A good way to test this would be to have your dog come and sit down in front of you. Start scratching or petting their neck. See how they respond. Are they leaning into you? Is their tongue out? These are usually good signs.
How do you know if they don’t like it? Most dogs will just get up and move away or try to reposition themselves. Some may even let out a whine or growl. Paying attention to your dog’s body language is a key factor here as well. You can learn a lot by just watching your dog to see what they do next.
Many a dog enjoys a good ear rub. Some can find it very enjoyable while others might actually take some pain from it. This will largely depend on the dog of course. The best way to find out is to give it a shot.
Have your dog come sit by you and give them a scratch behind the ear. Some dogs may bang their paws on the floor if they really like it. Others may not react at all or just move away if they don’t. The key here again is body language. Your dog will tell you what’s going on if you know what to look for.
The Back Legs
One of the best spots I’ve found on most dogs is the back hind quarter/leg area. A lot of dogs really enjoy being scratched or pet here. Sometimes I think it’s because they have a hard time adequately scratching or rubbing those areas themselves. Kind of like a human trying to itch the middle of their back!
It’s best to have your dog standing or laying next to you to try this out. Give them a scratch above the back of their 2 hind legs. They should respond to it immediately. Some more common responses usually involve them stretching out or turning around to lick you. These are all good signs that they enjoy and appreciate a good scratch there!
When trying to answer the “Are dogs ticklish?” question, I’ve found one area that most dogs seem to enjoy. The tummy! Most dogs love a good tummy rub and they will show you that in many ways.
I find the best way to initiate a tummy rub with your pup is to have them lay down and start scratching them on the sides by their rib cage. They will usually flop over and show you their stomachs if they want a good rub. Some may go into play mode and try to bite or lick your fingers as you pet them. This is my classic interpretation of a ticklish spot on a dog. You can clearly tell there is fun being had here.
What do you do if a dog doesn’t like a tummy rub? It’s simple, don’t do it. Some dogs aren’t too crazy about being pet in general. That is ok. You can still show you care about them by playing other games or showing them attention in other ways.
Do Dogs Laugh?
This is a great question and one I didn’t have a great answer for until recently. Dogs do appear to have a baseline set of emotions and one of them is definitely happiness and laughter associated. If you watch your dog, they will usually give you some good context clues to let you know they are having a good time. Lets talk about a few of these clues and what they could mean.
a wagging tail is a classic sign of dog happiness. Dogs wag their tails for all sorts of occasions. One of these definitely includes laughter and amusement. A great way to try this out is to play with your dog. How do they react? Do you see their tail wagging 100 mph in the background? This is a good sign that they are enjoying themselves and showing you how much fun they are having!
Tongue and Mouth
Lots of dogs can adopt an almost grin like face when they are having a good time. Just check the photo above. Obviously this doesn’t just need to mean laughter. It could be due to a general feeling of contentment as well.
Take their recent actions into account to find out. Did you just finish playing with your dog? Did you toss them a treat or praise them? Are they wagging their tail? All are good context clues to help you determine if they are happy and enjoying themselves or not.
Talking Or Howling
I have a dog right now that is very talkative. She will make all kinds of noises when we are playing or out for a walk. I’ve come to learn over time which of these behaviors is meant to be joyful and which are meant for warnings.
Every dog will be a bit different with their verbal communication. Some may just bark all the time while others may “talk”. This actually may involve some noises like howls or whines. It’s important to watch other body language signs for additional context clues. All of this information will be pretty helpful in the long run in determining how your dog is reacting to a particular set of stimulus.
Are Dogs Ticklish: Overstimulation
Lets talk about dogs who get overstimulated. These types of reactions can occur for a various amount of reasons. Is your dog sick or injured? Do you have a rescue animal who is weird around new people or animals? Do you have a special needs dog? Is the weather bad outside? There are plenty of other things that can come into account when we talk about overstimulation. Lets talk about some of the ways to resolve or mitigate the amount of stimulation your dog may be receiving and how to help them calm down.
Sometimes a candle or an essential oil will help to calm your dog down in the case of overstimulation. I like to light lavender incense or vanilla from time to time when my dog might get a little to antsy. A lot will depend on the reason why they are feeling that way as well. I find that the oils work best when trying to wind my dog down from a long day or when there may be guests over that my pup is not familiar with.
There are compression shirts or thunder coats that dogs can wear that can help with overstimulation as well. These coats or shirts will fit snugly around your dog. Studies show that the extra constant pressure helps the dog stay calm. These are especially valuable when dealing with issues like thunderstorms or inclement weather. They can also be used during the day for separation anxiety when you might be away from your dog for a prolonged period of time.
Sometimes all you need is some good old fashioned dog training to help your pup out. How is dog training going to help my dog with overstimulation? It can work in a few ways. First off, building a strong training foundation for your dog is helpful in giving them the tools they need to self sooth and maintain their calm. A good example would be a thunderstorm. You can train your dog by showing them where they should go if they need comfort. Usually a crate or bed would be used as an anchor point. The next time a storm comes, you may see them heading to their bed or crate. If they feel like they are in control of their surroundings a bit, the amount of stimulus could bother them less.
Sometimes dogs may act overstimulated because they have something going on with their health. It could be something as simple as a rash or there could be a parasitic infection going on. This is also another great reason to pay attention to your dog’s body language. Lets give an example. Your dog usually loves a good tummy rub but recently they are scratching all the time and don’t want to be pet. When you look at their stomach you see that it’s red an inflamed. Odds are, they got bit by something or some kind of infection formed on the skin.
In these types of cases, your best bet is to take your dog over to the vet and have them get checked out. Health issues are nothing to play around with and can usually be dealt with easily when caught early enough. I strongly recommend reaching out to your local vet if you have any questions about your dog’s behavior in general as well.
Are Dogs Ticklish Concluded
So what do you think? Are dogs ticklish after all? I believe that they are but not in the same way that we are. There are still many ways you can tell if a dog is enjoying themselves and we went through several of them above. Keep an eye out for playful actions and maybe a little talking as well. Dogs will give you the information if you know where to look.
Another thing we talked about was actively monitoring your dog. This can help with a whole range of issues. It can show you where they like to be pet and how they like to play. It can also show you what cues to look for to determine whether they are happy or stressed. Keeping an eye out for these actions will be very helpful in the long term. Don’t get discouraged if it takes you a little while to pick up on them either. Dog ownership is a marathon not a sprint!
Are you new to dog ownership by chance? Thinking of paying for training? It can get expensive and you are going to be stuck doing most of the work anyway. I strongly urge you to check out this guide here before dropping thousands on expensive in home training.