You know just where the dog sweet clues is that gets your pup"s foot moving. Yet what brings on the reflex? space dogs ticklish? Does that itch? go this dog scrape reflex indicate that they love the or dislike it once you touch their bellies?

Through part investigation, researcher have discovered a scientific factor why dogs obtain their kicks native a an excellent ol" scrape session.

You are watching: Why do dogs kick their leg

What Is a Dog scratch Reflex?

The scrape reflex is one involuntary response that protects dogs from fleas, ticks and also other sources of irritation, says famous Science. A swarm of nerves situated under the skin makes up the dog sweet spot. When you scrape your pet"s tummy and hit this spot, this nerves gain activated and also send a message to the hind leg, via the spinal cord, to begin kicking in an attempt to dislodge the source of irritation.

This doesn"t necessarily mean your dog doesn"t enjoy the emotion of being scratched in the spot. You deserve to gauge your pup"s level of enjoyment by paying attention to body language, pet Planet suggests. Dogs that either don"t favor it or are tired of the sensation will typically shot to move away. Also, a dog that commonly turns over to reveal their belly to girlfriend is signaling the they are comfortable with you and likely they are comfortable through the ship scratches you often tend to offer them at this time.

Why It usually Works v Belly Scratches

With few exceptions, the dog scratch reflex many gets activated as soon as you scratch or tickle details areas of the belly and not, because that example, the rump or the head. That"s due to the fact that the nerve clusters particular to this reflex room only located within a saddle-shaped region of the belly, known as the "receptive ar of the reflex," says

One concept on why this nerve reflex is localized to this an ar is the this area is no as mobile or defended as other parts the the body, leaving it more vulnerable to parasites and also other irritants.

How the scratch Reflex Works

At the rotate of the 20th century, English neurophysiologist sir Charles Sherrington ended up being intrigued by this dog habits and devoted considerable sources to the study.

According come his findings released in The Integrative activity of the worried System, the dog scrape reflex manifests in 4 stages:

The Latency Period: This is the slight delay between the time you start scratching her dog"s sweet spot and also the time the leg starts come kick. The delay is led to by the moment it takes because that the nerve come send scratching signals up the spinal cord to the brain, and also then because that the signal to travel earlier down to the leg and also activate the kicking motion.

The Warm-Up: This is the time it takes for the leg to really gain going. The kicking motion usually starts slowly and then builds in intensity together you proceed scratching or rubbing the sweet spot.

The ~ Discharge: This ad to just how sometimes the kicking activity will proceed after you prevent scratching or move your hand away. Simply as the signal to start kicking take away time to with the leg, for this reason does the signal that it"s OK to stop.

Fatigue: Scratching because that too lengthy in the very same spot can reason the reflex to tires out, which is why sometimes your dog"s kicking slows and stops also though you save tickling the exact same spot. It requirements time to rest before it can become energetic again.

The dog scratch reflex could be amusing, however it offer a objective in protecting her dog native pests and also provides crucial insights right into their neurological health. Whether your dog is mindful of any of this, or even if it is they just like the emotion of acquiring their sweet point out scratched, one point is almost details — belly rubs are pretty awesome.

See more: An Example Of A Formal Region, Types Of Regions: Formal, Functional & Vernacular

Contributor Bio

Jean Marie Bauhaus

Jean Marie Bauhaus is a pets parent, pets blogger and novelist indigenous Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she typically writes under the supervision the a lapful of furbabies.