Sometimes it’s the simple things that our dogs do that we find funny or strange!
One second, they might be playing with their favorite toy. The next second, they’re rolled over and wiggling on their back!
While laying on their backs and wiggling might not seem like a significant action for our dogs, you might catch yourself wondering, “Why does my dog squirm on their back?”
Dogs often lay on their backs and wiggle because they’re in a playful mood, they want a belly rub from you, or they are releasing some pent-up energy. Your dog might also be itchy, marking their territory or they like the scent. It’s also possible your dog is mimicking another dog, or simply cooling down.
Let’s take a closer look and find out the meaning behind why your dog might wiggle on their backs and if it is something to be concerned about.
9 Reasons Why Your Dog Wiggles Around On Their Back
As mentioned before, there are many different reasons why your dog could do something as simple as laying on their back and wiggling. We’ll take a deeper dive into the 9 main reasons why dogs squirm on their backs.
Different dogs behave differently for different reasons so it is important to keep in mind that each dog has their own reasoning. There might also be more than one reason why a dog does something.
Being aware of a dog’s situation and setting when they do something or behave a certain way can help you find out the reasons why they do what they do.
Reason 1: Your Dog Wants To Play
Dogs can be very similar to human babies when it comes to the things they do. There are many times in which your dog suddenly has the urge to play even when you’re in the middle of relaxing.
Your dog might lay on their back and wiggle as a sign to tell you that they want to play. When dogs want to play, they might exhibit behaviors that indicate submission and that they are not threatening.
One of the most vulnerable spots of a dog includes their stomach. By laying down, showing their belly, and wiggling, it shows that they don’t mean any harm and that they want to play.
Sometimes, a dog might squirm around on their back with a toy. They might even be playing by themselves. Like a little kid, dogs can entertain themselves with a toy at random times of the day!
Watch this adorable video of a dog squirming on their back while playing with a toy:
Reason 2: Your Dog Has An Itch
Unfortunately, dogs aren’t able to reach their backs. Imagine getting an itch you can’t reach and you suddenly find a way to get it! It can be the most relieving feeling ever!
Dogs might lay on their backs and wiggle because the surface they are wiggling around is perfect for getting rid of that itch they’ve been dying to scratch! You might notice that a dog might roll around the house or grass as their own back scratcher.
It’s important to note if a dog seems very bothered by an itch and if they seem to never stop scratching. If your dog does not seem to ever get rid of the itching, there might be a chance of fleas on your dog.
Check your dog’s fur for any unwanted pests before the situation worsens. Using flea and tick preventatives and maintaining proper dog grooming can help reduce the chances of this scenario.
Reason 3: Your Dog Wants A Belly Rub
Many dogs love it, and many dog owners expect it! Sometimes, a dog will roll over on their back and squirm around because they’re asking for a belly rub!
What exactly does a belly rub mean from a dog’s perspective? Dogs are known to love getting pets. Dr. Coren, a dog psychologist, believes that belly rubs are another way of connecting with our dogs. It is like another form of being petted since the fur on a dog’s stomach is less dense, making the feeling of being petted different.
Most dogs love the feeling of being petted. However, when we pet our dogs, both we and our dogs get a little boost of oxytocin the hormone that makes us feel warm and fuzzy. Some research shows that it also helps to lower stress and anxiety. So the next time you pet your dog, both of you are helping each other out!
Reason 4: Your Dog Is Cooling Down
Sometimes it can get really hot and dogs will try to find different ways to cool down. When outside on a hot summer day, you might catch your dog laying on their back in the grass and wiggle around. This might be because they want to cool down!
The grass can feel cool compared to the heat-absorbing concrete. Laying on grass and squirming around is one way a dog would try to stay cool on a hot day. Other signs that your dog could be feeling hot include panting, fast heart rate, and slowed-down movements.
There are different ways to help prevent your dog from overheating such as providing accessible water, bringing them out in the mornings or late evenings, or giving your pup some frozen treats. Ensure only a limited amount of time in the sun, especially for dogs with black fur.
Take a look at this video a dog owner took when they caught their dog wiggling in the grass:
Reason 5: Your Dog Is Marking Their Territory
Since dogs can’t use their words or leave little posters with messages on them for other dogs, they use their scents to navigate their way through the world. Every dog has their own scent and they could use that scent to mark things that they claim as theirs.
Laying on their backs and wiggling around can be a way your dog rubs their scent in the area to let other dogs know that your dog was there first.
However, rolling on their backs and wiggling isn’t the only way a dog could mark the places they’ve been. If your dog does some of the other methods such as pooping on top of things or peeing in certain areas along a walk, it could be a sign that your dog is marking their territory.
Reason 6: Your Dog Is Mimicking Another Dog
Interestingly, dogs can do things that make them seem more similar to human children! One of those things is mimicking other dogs and even people. A dog might see another one laying on their backs and wiggling and try it for themselves!
A dog can copy their owners as well. Some dog breeds that are known for their smiles might be doing so by mimicking their owners. They might also cross their paws just like how a human crosses their legs! This article mentions a study showing that dogs can mimic their owner’s actions after seeing them less than ten minutes after the owner’s action!
Similarly, dogs might also match their owners’ energy and emotion their owners display. For example, it’s best to stay calm when around dogs so that they can also stay relatively calm. If you panic in a situation, your dog is most likely to be just as stressed and match your panic.
Reason 7: Your Dog Is Letting Out Energy
Every dog is different and each one has their own energy level. Some dogs are low energy levels and would want to lay on the couch with you while others have high energy levels and can run for long periods of time.
Dogs’ ways of releasing energy differ as well. Some dogs release energy by running in a large field while others might not be receiving enough attention from their owner and release energy by destroying furniture. A dog might choose to lay down on their back and wiggle around in excitement as their method of choice.
It could also be a sign that their about to get the zoomies!
Watch this short clip of a dog wiggling on her back randomly:
Reason 8: Your Dog Likes The Scent
Similar to your dog leaving their scent on the ground by rolling on it, they might also try to pick up the scent from the ground by laying in it and wiggling.
Things that might smell terrible or weird to us might smell amazing to our dogs. If they come back from outside smelling a bit strange, it may be because they decided to squirm around in something and wanted to pick up the scent.
On the other hand, they might like a scent because it relates to something that is important to them. Food can be an example, but dogs might also want to rub against you to pick up your scent.
Why might dogs want to cover their scent? It is suggested by scientists and other biologists that dogs might want to mask their scent with other scents to sneak up on their prey.
Reason 9: You’re Encouraging The Behavior
Surprisingly, you influence your dog’s behavior a lot more than you might think. Giving your dog some extra attention every time they lay on their back and wiggle, you could be encouraging your dog to keep doing it.
Positive reinforcement is when you reward your dog for doing something. Many dog trainers use this method with treats. For example, training a dog to sit on command can include saying, “Sit,” and then giving the dog a treat right after they do it.
You might be thinking, “But I don’t give treats to my dog when they lay on their back and wiggle.” The reward doesn’t always have to be a treat. It doesn’t even have to be a physical object either! Praise and attention can be considered as a reward to a dog, so if you notice yourself laughing and giving your dog more attention than usual when they squirm on their back, they might want to keep doing it to keep your attention!
Should You Worry About Your Dog Squirming On Their Back?
So now that you know the possible reasons why a dog might lay on their back and wiggle, is there anything that needs to be done about it?
If your dog does it once in a while, it’s most likely not something to worry about. However, if you suspect that your dog is wiggling on their back because of an itch that’s been bothering them for a long time or if they are constantly doing it, it is best to check in with your veterinarian to help your dog get back to being happy and comfortable.
Remember, veterinarians and other pet professionals are always there to help. If you have any concerns or questions that you are not sure about, never feel afraid to reach out to a professional.
That was 9 reasons why dogs lay on their backs and wiggle! There are always multiple reasons why a might do something so understanding the context and setting of a behavior can help you determine what reason your dog does something.
Understanding our dogs’ behavior and why they do the things they do can help us better our communication. Since dogs can’t use words to talk to us, it’s up to us to understand their body language and help them in the ways we can.