Some kids beg for it, and your dog probably enjoys it, too. A spirited tickle session is a positive way to interact with your pooch. Jasper might not giggle uncontrollably when you tickle him under the chin and on his belly -- but then again, he might!
Some Like It
Dogs feel tickling sensations much like humans do, so it's natural that, like humans, some may enjoy tickling more, while others might not be as ticklish. Whether it's a light stroking with your fingertips or a more aggressive rub on his ribs, if Jasper is among those who like to be tickled, you'll find that he will initiate a petting or play session almost as often as you do.
Jasper will roll over on his back, exposing his belly so you have easy access to tickle it. Not all dogs love a good tickle, however. Don't automatically assume that baring the belly is another way of asking for rubs and tickles. Some dogs reveal their tummies as a way of indicating they'd like you to go away. It's their way of showing that they don't pose a threat to an unknown human.
Your pooch may very well love an aggressive tickle-fest, but there are cases when it's not appropriate. Sometimes dogs don't like to be tickled on their feet and will pull them away if you try to touch them. Also, Dr. Nicholas H. Dodman wrote in his 2009 book "The Well-Adjusted Dog" that tickling is one of the games you shouldn't play with an aggressive dog. Playing this way with a dog who already has authority issues will encourage him to challenge your position of dominance. A calmer, lighter type of tickling around the ears or on the bellies of these types of dogs can be useful, as it can calm and relax them instead of inciting them to try to dominate you.
More than just having fun with Jasper, gentle, light tickling is an effective way to massage your dog. Super-gentle strokes from head to toe can relax your pooch to the point of falling asleep. Daily tickle sessions -- both for play and for relaxation -- are helpful for keeping your dog happy and healthy.
- Dogspeak; Matthew Hoffman and The Editors of Pets: Part of the Family
- Party Tricks for Dogs; William Houston
- No Bad Dogs; The Woodhouse Way: Barbara Woodhouse
- Tips from Dog Town; Best Friends Animal Society
- The Doctor's Book of Home Remedies for Dogs and Cats; Editors of Prevention Health Books
- The Complete Idiot's Guide to Massage; Joan Budilovsky and Eve Adamson, MFA
- The Well-Adjusted Dog; Nicholas H. Dodman
Elle Di Jensen has been a writer and editor since 1990. She began working in the fitness industry in 1987, and her experience includes editing and publishing a workout manual. She has an extended family of pets, including special needs animals. Jensen attended Idaho and Boise State Universities. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications.