There are many ways we can play with our furry best friends. We can play fetch, chase them around (or vice versa) or just rub their bellies. And sometimes, when we rub their tummies (or other parts of their bodies) it may seem like they’re ticklish. But are dogs ticklish?
Let’s find out the interesting answer to this question below.
Are Dogs Ticklish?
So , how about it, are dogs ticklish? Well yes, our dogs can be ticklish.
And belly rubs are not the only way that we can get them to respond in a ticklish way. There are some other spots too! But first, let me tell you why dogs are ticklish.
Why Are Dogs Ticklish?
Dogs are ticklish because they have this so-called tickle response, or also known as gargalesis. This sensation is not only present in dogs, but also other animals, including ourselves. But aside from gargalesis, the sensation known as knismesis is also present in dogs, other animals, and even us humans.
Unlike gargalesis, which is pretty much a happy response or a tickling sensation that makes us laugh and catch us off-guard, knismesis is like the opposite. This type of response makes us more alert and for us humans, it is more described as “goosebumps”.
Dogs have that response too. For example, when your dog feels like there is a flea crawling on its skin, it will immediately react and scratch it right away.
Gargalesis vs Knismesis in Dogs
So when you scratch your dog’s belly and it kicks its leg, is it a gargalesis reaction, or a knismesis one?
Well according to Dr. Marc Bekoff, the kick that your dog does when you scratch its belly is an involuntary reflex. Your scratch stimulates the dog’s neural pathways under certain areas of your dog’s skin and sends a message to the spine which tells your dog to kick its hind legs.
Now according to Dr. Lore Haug, who is a veterinarian and animal science behavior expert for Texas Veterinary Behavior Services, this scratch reflex that a dog shows when it is rubbed is actually a knismesis reaction. And it is the same with the reflex that makes your dogs kick/scratch anything that makes them itch or irritates them. So if you are doing that, you are not actually tickling your dog, but rather, you are activating their scratch reflex.
Where Are Dogs Ticklish?
So where are the spots that make a dog ticklish? Well, the ticklish spot of a dog is not only found in its belly. They’re ticklish in other places too. You can get a ticklish reaction from your dog by scratching them on their chest, ears, armpits, and their hind legs just before their tail.
Well now that we can confirm that dogs can be ticklish, another question that pops in mind is that “do dogs laugh when they get tickled?”
Well, we humans surely do laugh when we get tickled, but how about our dogs? The only way we can answer that is maybe.
But if there is one thing for sure, it is that dogs can make a sound similar to laughter when they are tickled. And that it makes them happy and gives us an invitation to play.
We can normally see our dogs put up a grin-like expression when we tickle them. And they would usually pant but this type of panting(laughing) is quite different from a normal panting of a dog.