We all know who the good boys are, and the good boys love belly rubs and unlimited scratches. But sometimes, your pup might act differently while getting belly rubs. They might throw their legs in the air instead of enjoying the scratches on the tummy. However, your pup’s reaction might make you think, “is my pup ticklish?” Can dogs be ticklish?
Let us see how this silly biological function works in dogs and how our good boys and girls feel when tickled. Do they identify the tickling sensation differently? Where to tickle your pup and where not! We will find the answers together!
Can dogs be ticklish?
Of course! Identifying the tickling sensation is not very rare in the animal kingdom, and humans are not unique in this particular field. All the apes – chimpanzees, orangutans, gorillas respond with great laughter, which is very human-like.
Apart from them, dogs, penguins and meerkats seem to enjoy the tickles; some even giggle, like rats. You might not hear a rat giggling because the giggling sound on being tickled is ultrasonic. So if your query was, “are dogs ticklish?” yes, they are!
The particular response to tickle is called gargalesis; it is a silly and fun sensation to the nervous system. Tickling triggers the stable nerves by poking on a sensitive body spot.
Where are dogs ticklish?
You might be thinking about the particular tickling spots for dogs since some people have only ticklish feet or necks. At the same time, some people are not ticklish at all, or so ticklish that you do not even need to tickle them really to see their reaction.
If you want to identify your pup’s ticklish spots, there are a few areas you may try; some of them will surely make your dog giggle. Interestingly, dogs’ common ticklish spots are almost similar to humans’. Such as:
- Lower tummy
- Back (over the tail)
Why are the puppies ticklish?
Are dogs ticklish? ‘Yes’! Why are they ticklish? Tickling is an interesting nervous game. Let me explain it in simple terms!
Take humans, for instance; why are they ticklish and let us draw a comparative view since we know the biology of the human body better than dogs’. If the bottom of your feet is tickled, you will laugh and immediately try to move your feet away from that feeling. It is precisely the same reaction to something when you feel pain or irritation suddenly, like touching something prickly or stepping on a sharp object.
As mentioned earlier, in all these scenarios, you feel a sudden pain or irritation from outside, which sends a message through your nervous system to the brain that leads your muscles to contract. You quickly move that spot away from the source of irritation.
Now here comes the most exciting part! Have you ever thought about why the responses to tickling are similar to other defensive reactions? The most logical theory is being ticklish is a defence mechanism in disguise. Most of the ticklish spots are vulnerable and sensitive; hence the responses are somewhat exaggerated for valid reasons than other areas.
However, the science and mechanism behind tickling is the same for all, irrespective of evolutionary superiorities.
How to know if my pup is ticklish?
You perhaps already know, just have not realised it yet! If your pup does not like his ear, paws or neck to be touched and jerk these areas off while grooming them, it means your dog is ticklish, and those are his ticklish spots.
Where are dogs ticklish? If you are curious about whether your pup has ticklish feet or ears, just smoothly tickle their soft paws. Run your fingers on their furry back or tease gently with your fingers near their genital areas. Most dogs would twitch their feet immediately and start arching back and forth. That is the gargalesis or the reflex to tickle.
Do dogs laugh while being tickled?
So are dogs ticklish? Yes! Do they laugh like us?
First, give me an honest answer, have you ever laughed out of enjoyment while being tickled? Nobody can say that they laugh because they enjoy being tickled! No. The giggling sound we make alongside the “stop it” shouts is similar to laughter. But how can we laugh at something we also want to get rid of?
The responses and vocal reactions to tickling are almost similar to every species. The respiration rate gets higher for everyone, which causes a tickled person suffocation and dogs panting. However, if your pup gives a soft gaze, jaws are open widely with tongue dangling, it is a sign that your pupper is relaxed and having a good time.
Should I stop giving belly rubs if my dog throws his legs?
Not everyone is ticklish, neither is every doggy! If your pupper is kicking in the air, it might be because they are super sensitive and do not want her sensitive spots to be touched. In that case, avoid poking those areas.
The response your tickled dog generally gives is the scratch reflex. In humans, a similar reflex is called ‘knismesis’. The sensation your scratches generate stimulates the nerves under the skin and alerts their spinal cord. The central nervous system then instructs to kick off the source of the irritation.
When you tickle someone or a dog, you fool their nervous system by making them think that something is causing them intense itchiness.
Is tickling a dog bad?
It is truly subjective and depends on whether your dog enjoys it or gets irritated? You might be well aware of how irritating tickling could sometimes be, especially when you are not in the right mood. The same goes for dogs.
Sometimes your paw friend might like a little-tickle with unlimited pat pat. Some would not enjoy it and walk away from you on the other paw. You can differentiate from their reactions whether they want it or not! If their tail is stiffly wagging between their legs or if they growl, stop right there!
Seek their approval, try to understand their body language, and stop if they do not seem to enjoy it.
So can dogs be ticklish? Yes! But you must be a good fellow who understands consent. If they want you to play with their body, they will not let your hands rest for a moment, and when they do not, keep your hands to yourself and act like a good boy or girl. So next time when someone asks, “who is the good boy?” your pupper could say ‘me’!