“Happiness is having a scratch for every itch.”Ogden Nash
Are dogs ticklish?
It depends on their mood, health condition, and some other uncommon reasons that are discussed below.
If you tickle your dog, he can exhibit a variety of reactions.
As explained by Erin Askeland, a certified dog behavior consultant, “signs might include jerking around, wiggling, or kicking their leg in the rhythm of the tickle. They might also engage in head tilting and body contorting when you find a ticklish spot.”
But, not every time they are feeling funny.
Sometimes, they wince or pull away when tickled.
1. What is Tickling?
“Tickling” is the act of touching sensitive parts of a body in a way that instigates mild tingly waves through the body followed by involuntary twitching movements or laughter.
In doggy terms, tickling means that you rub a dog’s neck, chest, nose, belly, etc., and it causes an itching sensation in him. Tickling triggers a nerve impulse reaching his spinal cord, which moves the adjacent hind leg in response. Thus, your dog’s leg kicks and paws swipe in the air rhythmically as if to rub the itching spot.
The faster the scratching, the faster the leg movement.
Surprisingly, this response is automatic, and your dog wouldn’t know why his leg is dancing that way.
Tickling can be of two types:
If you stroke your dog’s neck or feet, but it doesn’t induce laughter, rather he seems unresponsive or unhappy; in medical terms, it is known as knismesis.
If you repeatedly run your fingertips on your dog’s ticklish spots and he starts to enjoy it and gives happy vibes, such type of tickling is Gargalesis.
So, when you are feather touching your dog’s receptive nerves, you might be doing Gargalesis tickling to get him in a good mood and hear his laughter.
But, do dogs laugh?
2. Do Dogs Laugh?
Well, this is the question on which there is considerable debate. And, the gist of all that debate is that dogs do laugh but in a doggy way. Their laugh is not like that of ours—open mouths, roars, and hands-on tummies.
The only way you can figure out that a dog is laughing is by reading his body language or looking into his eyes.
Because “the eyes have their own way of tattle-telling the feelings.”
So, what does a dog look like when he laughs?
A laughing dog exhibits a positive demeanor; either he will lay on his back, wiggle his tail, stick out his tongue, or he will lick you and jump at you.
As for the sound he makes, dog laughter is more like panting without any vocalization or creating a more “huh-hah” sound. This is your dog being happy.
So the next time you’re tickling him see how he ‘laughs’.
3. Does Your Dog Like Tickling?
Your dog communicates with you in nonverbal ways which you may or may not comprehend. For example, when your dog is sick, he may go sit in a corner and keep licking and scratching his body. Or, if he is hungry, he’d keep staring or barking at you. Or if he is bored, he’d start chewing, digging, and scratching. These are signs of him telling you that “hey pa, I am not okay.”
Your dog sees the world from his own unique perspective and does things based on what his heart says. A responsible pet parent always listens to these silent messages and caters to his needs. For new owners, deciphering these signals may take a little time; keep an eye on your dog and experiment with the signals—and you will master it.
Coming to the topic, does your dog like tickling?
Let your dog decide it.
Your dog may roll over and expose his belly to let you do more or may just duck and snarl. Anyhow, if he likes it, you’d know it; and, if he doesn’t, you’d know that too.
While scratching or rubbing your dog’s tickle spot, pay attention to your dog’s body language and reactions. Respect his boundaries to build a healthy relationship with him.
4. What Are Some Dog Tickle Spots?
Most dogs have some particular ticklish spots on their body where they absolutely love to be scratched. If you hit that spot and your dog likes it, he will lift his legs. And if he doesn’t, he will whine, push against your hands, or get out of your reach.
Dogs do like to get attention from their owners, but may be some underlying issues if he is not into it, there. Otherwise, they won’t mind it at all. Rather, a quick scratch over his tickle spot will be rewarded in the form of happy kicks, yippy sounds, or a doggy grin.
Canines can have different sensitive regions where his touch sensations nerves are more receptive. You’d need to find that yourself by tenderly scratching all of his body and seeing his reaction.
You can try by touching these body parts first.
- Base of the Tail
- Between the Front Legs
Remember one thing, tickling means gently caressing your dog’s skin and not digging your fingers into it.
5. What Are the Benefits of Tickling Your Dog?
You might know that your dog can sense positive and negative energies around them.
According to research, nature has gifted dogs with the ability to perceive the rays of emotions being reflected on them. For example, when dogs are in a crowd where people laugh and play, they feel happy and jump around in excitement. However, when people are fighting and shouting at each other, dogs also start to behave that way.
The benefit of tickling is that you are giving your dog positive emotions which can strengthen your bond with him. A bonding relationship with your dog depends heavily on how you play and have fun together. It means when you tickle your dog in a good mood, it will develop a strong connection of love and affection.
A daily tickle session will keep your dog happy and loved up.
6. Why Are Some Dogs More Ticklish Than Others?
Usually, when you tickle your dog, he feels enthused and exultant. But it may happen that at other times, he suddenly stops responding. Or, if you have more than one dog, and some of them are more ticklish than others.
So what is the reason behind these different behaviors?
The answer is, skin infections and allergies, inflammations, sores, wounds, pustules, etc. These could be some reasons your dog may be stepping back from your lovesome touch to hide his pain.
Here are some canine ailments that might be making your pooch touch-sensitive.
One of the common reasons behind touch sensitivity is scabies, also called Sarcoptic mange. It is caused by a highly contagious skin parasite, Sarcoptes scabiei mite. It is a non-seasonal parasite present in all dogs.
These mites delve deep into the skin and induce severe itching. As a result, your dog scratches his skin, causing scabs and scales on the skin along with hair loss.
To avoid your dog inviting Sarcoptes scabiei, groom him properly and use only quality products.
Also known as atopy, canine allergic dermatitis can be the outcome of fleas, food allergies, bacterial hypersensitivity, hyperthyroidism, yeast, seborrhea, pollen, etc. These allergies can also be the result of congenital disorders.
Shaving a dog’s double coat altogether can also cause this ailment.
You might not have suspected that food allergies can be the reason behind dog’s skin infections too.
Well, yes. It’s quite possible that your pet gets allergic to the food he has been eating for months.
In such a situation, you have to find out which ingredient is causing that allergy—simply changing the food brand may not help here.
Related to food is another misconception that canines get stomach and skin disease from poor quality food. But that is not true.
If your dog is allergic to a certain ingredient, it doesn’t matter whether it is in inexpensive food or food from a reputed brand. Sensitivity to an ingredient means sensitivity to an ingredient only, it doesn’t matter which brand it is or how expensive or cheap it may be.
However, there is one advantage to premium foods: Some manufacturers avoid artificial flavors and fillers that often complicate the allergies.
Irritation From Collars or Leashes
Collars can cause abrasions and bruises around dog’s necks. If your dog wears a collar invariably, moisture can accumulate underneath it that can activate bacteria and yeast in dog fur, causing skin dermatitis. Therefore, when you tickle them there, it’d definitely hurt them, and they’d wince.
Fear or PTSD
A dog being sensitive to touch can be the result of fear and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
If your dog flinches back even on soft patting, there might be some past stresses working in. Get him examined by a vet or pet behaviorist if he has any troubled history.
Though not common, if you are used to squeezing your buddy’s cheeks, and he is not letting you do that anymore, there could be a possibility of tooth abscess.
Whenever you feel that your dog is not acting normal, consult your vet immediately and discuss the details.
So, are dogs ticklish? And will your tickling cheer them up?
The answer is, ‘yes’. They are ticklish, and they’d cheer up on tickling.
As a pro tip, you can use tickling as a bonding tool to make up for the time lost due to your busy schedule. It works—it has always done so.