Why Do Dogs Like to Have the Base of Their Tails Scratched?

Some dogs give obvious clues when they want their rump scratched.
i dog`s back image by Lukasz Mazurkiewicz from Fotolia.com

Dogs usually aren’t too shy about letting you know what they want. Most of them love it when you scratch the area at the base of their tail. If you comply, you’ll be “like the Pied Piper of the dog world,” said Laura Sand in the blog, A Dog’s Life.

How You Can Tell

A dog that likes to be scratched on his rump usually is not shy about letting you know. Such a dog likely will turn away from you, making sure you notice his rear. Then comes the tell-tale sign of his interest -- he will look at you over his shoulder, ears back, maybe accompanied by a pleading whine or soft bark. If the butt scratch indeed is what your furry friend is after, you’ll know by his reaction when you comply. He will have a blissful and contented look on his face, which sometimes comes with an appreciative snort or some other sound of pleasure. If you stop too soon, expect more pleading.

A Simple Reason

There is no hidden reason or mystery regarding why dogs like the area at the base of their tails scratched. They do for the same reasons you like having your back scratched: It feels good, and it generally is difficult to reach that area to scratch it. It is very difficult for a dog to reach its own rear, which is the reason they appreciate when we scratch it for them, explains Bonnie Beaver, professor of veterinary medicine at Texas A&M University, in “Bark” magazine.

Could Be Problematic

Your dog might have an allergy or other condition that is making the rump area itchy, and the dog is looking for relief by having you scratch it. Several factors can contribute to allergies, including the food your dog eats, mold or pollen. Contact dermatitis is another type of allergy that dogs can get from pesticides or soap, according to WebMD. Dry skin also causes itchiness. Your dog could have dry skin from winter weather or from a fatty acid deficiency. Fleas, ticks and mites could cause your dog to be especially itchy. The best way to tell whether your dog’s itchiness is problematic is to take him to a vet.

Not Universally Liked

Although many dogs enter an almost rapturous state from the rump scratch, not all dogs are as appreciative. Some don’t like that area touched at all, says Beaver. You’ll know when a dog doesn’t like its butt scratched because the reaction you’ll probably get will be a growl or snap, or the dog may simply walk away.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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