We can all agree that our dogs have some peculiar habits and personality traits. One of the weirdest, and sometimes most adorable, behaviors we see is when you scratch your pooch's back. As humans, we have a vast number of creative ways to reach that itchy spot on our backs. But what about our canine friends? How do they scratch that itch? It is almost impossible for a dog to reach certain areas of their backs and therefore they come to you for help. This simple action can bring about some of the most amusing reactions our pups can display. But you may find yourself asking what causes your dog to respond so animatedly from a quick scratch on the back.
The Root of the Behavior
Ask any expert and the majority will agree that there is no deep hidden meaning behind your dog acting weird when you scratch his or her back. In fact, the answer most often given is that it simply feels good. This is especially true when you scratch the area of their backs closest to the base of their tails. And just like those hard to reach places on our backs, dogs love having that spot scratched as well.
There may, however, be a bit more of a medical explanation behind the euphoria expressed by your pooch when the 'rump' area is scratched. This area at the base of your dog's tail is full of sensitive nerve endings. As such, the scratching sensation in this area is quite pleasurable to our canine companions. This is not to say that every dog you meet will enjoy you walking up and scratching their backs or rumps, so use caution if it is a dog other than your own fur baby.
Aside from just the relief of having an itchy spot scratched, there is also the possibility that your pup has an allergy or some type of skin condition. Skin allergies can be caused by a variety of factors that include food, pollen, and even mold. If it doesn't seem to be an allergy issue, you may want to consider a skin condition such as dry skin. Cold weather, soaps, and some nutrient deficiencies can all contribute to your dog having dry and itchy skin. If you are concerned that your dog may have a skin condition or allergy, the safest option is to contact your vet.
A not so common belief by a few experts points to a social explanation for your dog enjoying a good back scratch. Dogs are social creatures, and with the domesticated canine, their human family is, in essence, their pack. Within canine packs, touch is one of the best forms of communication. So for a lot of dogs a back or rump scratch can convey emotions such as love, devotion, or friendship.
Encouraging the Behavior
If there seems to be no cause for concern medically, then allowing your pup to get a good back scratch is harmless. Getting to see your fur baby act weird and ecstatic is just as beneficial to us humans as the scratching is to our dogs. When you see your pooch wiggling his or her rump or raising their head to lick the air, then you know they are truly enjoying the scratching they are receiving. As good as that feels to your pup, seeing their happiness feels even better to you.
There is one thing to keep in mind when deciding whether or not you want to allow your pup to ask for back and rump scratches. You may want to talk with your vet or trainer on ways to teach your dog with whom or when 'asking' for a scratch is appropriate. Believe it or not, not everyone loves dogs! Crazy, I know. But with this in mind, you will want to make sure that your fur baby does not just walk up and plant their backside on an unsuspecting stranger. Setting boundaries and consistently enforcing them is an important part of being the 'alpha of the pack' and helping you pup learn appropriate behavior.
Other Solutions and Considerations
Veterinarians also urge you to make sure there is not a parasite issue causing your dog to look for extra scratches. If you have not checked him lately, your fur baby may be suffering from fleas and that is what is causing all of the excess itching. Fleas can be particularly troublesome if you live in a warm, damp climate. Some dogs have even been known to be particularly sensitive to flea saliva, causing an allergic reaction from just a single bite. Your vet can get your pup on the appropriate treatment if fleas are the problem. Once the flea problem has been taken care of keeping your dog on flea preventative is highly recommended.
Just remember, the next time your fur baby plops his or her rear end against you they may just be wanting some attention and a little relief. Taking a few minutes to give their backs a scratch is a simple way to share a little bonding time. And who does not want to be closer to their best furry friend?!
By a English Mastiff lover Dena Withrow
Published: 02/28/2018, edited: 01/30/2020