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Here’s Why Your Pup’s Leg Twitches When You Scratch His Favorite Spot

There’s pretty much no doubt that dogs love to be pet. They’ve become masters of the puppy dog eyes for a quick scratch behind the ear and know if they lay down on top of your feet, they just might even get a belly rub. However, with all your dog scratching and petting expertise you may have noticed your dog’s back leg doing a crazy kick depending on where you pet them.

happy puppy in the grass updated

Source: A Place To Love Dogs


So what really is this karate move that occurs every now and then? Could it be some sort of doggie sign language? Or maybe a new dance craze we missed? We decided to put aside our speculation, and do some ruff digging, to find out the real facts about why your pooch kicks and twitches.

dog laying down updated again

Source: A Place To Love Dogs


As it turns out, when you pet and scratch your dog in certain spots you’re stimulating a scratch reflex – a natural reaction your dog can’t seem to pawtest against. The kicking motion is involuntary caused by nerves, connected to your dog’s spinal cord. The nerves relay a message to his leg muscles to kick and jerk in an attempt to get rid of an irritant.

pet your dog updated

Source: Pet Meds


Subconsciously, your dog’s body is thinking your ruvley belly rub is a flea or an itch he needs to scratch. So does this mean that rubbing your dog’s belly is irritating them in some way? We spoke with Dr. Zangara of Roosevelt Animal Hospital located in Port Jefferson, New York to find out.

confused updated

Source: Flickr


The veterinarian reassured us that dogs wouldn’t lie down and expose their bellies to be scratched if they didn’t enjoy it but to also keep in mind that, just like people, some like being touched and scratched more than others. As long as your dog isn’t showing signs of aggression or discomfort, pet away!


h/t Animal Planet
Featured image via vetstreet

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