Have you ever wondered to yourself, “Why do dogs kick when you scratch them?” The reason might not be what you think. To understand this phenomenon, it’s important to know how dogs communicate in general.
Dogs are animals who are constantly reading body language. They are always looking for your permission to do things through your body language, which is why they often wait before jumping up on you or sitting on your lap.
Scratching a dog sends the message that they can trust you and that everything will be okay because their risk of being hurt is low.
It doesn’t make sense for a dog to kick if they feel safe and secure with their owner.
Kicking is a dog's natural, instinctive response to becoming nervous or uncomfortable.
This can happen for many reasons, like feeling stressed or threatened.
If your dog has been kicking out during a petting session, it might be a sign that they're not comfortable with the situation you're in.
Here, are some tips for what to look out for and how to help your dog feel more comfortable.
- Section 1: Why do dogs kick when you scratch them?
- Section 2: What does it mean when a dog kicks?
- Section 3: Do dogs like it when you scratch their back?
- Section 4: Does scratch reflex hurt dogs?
- Section 5: Why do dogs lean in when you scratch them?
- Section 6: How to read your dog's body language?
- Section 7: Conclusion
Why do dogs kick when you scratch them?
This behavior is actually an impulse response. When you scratch your dog, it reminds him of what it used to be like when it was a puppy and a love scratch and a cuddle was the best thing to happen to him all day.
When you run your hand down a dog’s side, you often gently run your fingernail over its skin.
Since dogs don’t have nails on the ends of their legs, they feel something really sharp every time you touch them.
It might not be as bad if it were pointed inward or the width of your fingernail, but it can be a little rough.
So when you scratch your dog, it helps remind them that when they were a puppy and it was just the two of you on the couch or the floor, everything was fine.
Your pet can even respond to it on a subconscious level.
What does it mean when a dog kicks?
Here’s a brief list of behaviors that could be considered body language and may indicate that a dog is uncomfortable:
- Swimming in circles
- Nervous or defensive
- Barking or growling
- Staring or heaving
- Loud panting
In some cases, the behavior listed above may not be the main cause of the kicking. In others, the kicking may be a response to another dog.
If your dog is kicking during petting, take a moment to let it come to you. Wait until the dog is calm and truly relaxed, then scratch him.
Here are some other ways that you can get your dog to stop kicking:
Limit how often your dog is petting, especially during the first stages of touching.
Take breaks every few minutes, giving your dog time to get reacquainted with your touch.
Do dogs like it when you scratch their back?
It’s important to remember that dogs are not averse to being scratched. Some studies even show that they actively seek out the attention of their owners.
If your dog has a lot of hair, you might want to scratch the skin under the fur to stimulate their own parasympathetic nervous system.
This makes the dog more relaxed and likely to relax while you scratch their skin.
When you scratch your dog in this manner, it can cause the following behavioral changes:
The dog will become excited and ready to play or engage in another activity.
Your dog will start panting and wagging its tail.
It will begin to relax and open its eyes.
Does scratch reflex hurt dogs?
Scratching is actually important to dogs, so it’s important to remember that they really need it.
Scratching is a form of communication, and dogs will often do it for as long as it is not hurting them.
However, the movement is very quick, so sometimes it can be a bit painful for dogs.
The best way to know if it hurts your dog is to give him a few gentle paws back to calm him down.
Sometimes it takes a few nips for them to realize they can trust you enough to calm down.
It is important to remember that even though they kick, dogs still enjoy the physical touch and are happy to let you pet them.
You can work out a solution if your dog does not get enough physical contact, such as making up a game that will satisfy both of you.
Why do dogs lean in when you scratch them?
Dogs lean in when they want to be closer to you. They are trying to get closer so they can get closer petting.
It’s important to notice when your dog is leaning in because that means they want to be petted.
Your pet dog can't speak the same language as you.
Dogs' communication abilities include everything from sniffing your face to communicating by barking.
For example, your dog may use all of their abilities to try to communicate with you in order to get your attention.
Here are some ways your dog communicates with you:
Licking your face is an indicator your dog wants you to know they are happy
Barking indicates your dog is upset
Whining sounds as though your dog is uncomfortable
Petting your pet triggers your pet to show you how much they enjoy the contact.
How to read your dog's body language?
It's really important to recognize the body language of other dogs in order to have a connection with your dog.
Once you start seeing body language, it’s really easy to tell when you're scratching your dog in a way that they don’t like.
With that in mind, here are a few body language signals your dog can be trying to tell you about his discomfort with a particular interaction.
Ear signs that your dog does not like being scratched
This body language signal comes from touching your dog’s ears. One reason dogs don’t like to be touched by humans is that they are scared that humans are going to harm them.
Studies have shown that ear-pinching or ear pulling is a sign that your dog is being afraid of something.
Your dog may also stop biting you or scratching you if you look away.
All dogs have the same basic instinctual reaction to you scratching them. But the exact reason why a dog will kick has a lot to do with whether they trust their owner or not.
Remember, if your dog is experiencing stress and you keep petting them, you’re actually giving them the wrong message by doing so.
By encouraging your dog to experience feelings of fear, you are doing a great disservice to them, since their natural instinct is to keep themselves safe.
The solution here is to scratch your dog, and only after they’re no longer in a state of stress.