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Why Do Dogs Like Butt Scratches: The Scoop On Itchy Bums In Canines

why do dogs like butt scratches

As a dog owner, you may have noticed that your canine companion loves nothing more than a good bum scratch. But why do dogs like butt scratches so much?

Of course, enjoying a rub on the rear is pretty innocent. But we always need to be look out for signs of itchy skin that may mean a trip to vet is on order. We also need to make sure that any products we use on our dogs are 100% suitable for their sensitive skin, like quality canine shampoo & conditioner. After all, an occasional itch is normal, but should always be on the lookout for severely itchy skin (pruritus), since it could come from flea bites, allergies, or other underlying conditions.

Perhaps the cutest and most famous dog dog who adores having her butt petted is the Golden Retriever, Nala, who does her adorable “Nala stomps.”

Lets Explore Why Dogs Love Butt Scratches

Unlike rolling in the dirt or eating their own vomit, butt scratches are a more straight forward canine behavior. Let’s break it down further. Here are the main reasons dogs like a rump scratch, particularly at the base of their tail.

Because they can’t reach it themselves

The biggest reason that a dog loves butt scratches is simply because the neck, back, and the butt are parts of the body they can’t reach themselves. Having somebody scratch this area for them is a major source of pleasure, just like when somebody scratches an itch you can’t reach on your back.

Sensory stimulation

Dogs have a highly sensitive sense of touch, and the area around their tails and hindquarters contains a dense network of nerve endings. When you scratch your dog’s butt, you’re stimulating these nerves, which can create a pleasurable sensation for your dog. Some dogs may even “wiggle” or wag their tails in response to a good scratch, indicating that they’re enjoying the sensation.

Bonding and affection

Scratching your dog’s butt is also a form of physical affection that can strengthen the bond between you and your pet. Dogs are social animals that thrive on interaction and attention from their human companions. When you scratch your dog’s butt, you’re providing them with positive attention and reinforcing your relationship with them.

Being touched by their favorite humans not only feels good, but it releases oxytocin, the love hormone, in a dog’s brain.

In fact, your dog may turn his butt to you as this is common way that dogs show friendliness, submission, and trust. When dogs naturally turn their butt to you, it’s only natural to scratch it so it becomes a natural part of greeting and cuddling.

Removing dead hair

When dogs shed, their fur loosen in their hair follicles. Dead hair can also clump and mat in your dogs fur. For many dogs shedding season is uncomfortable and itchy. Scratching and brushing their rump removes dead hair and makes dogs far more comfortable. 

Dealing with itchy skin

Another huge reason that dogs usually love a good butt scratch is because many dogs have conditions that leave them with dry and itchy skin. If you are dealing with excessive scratching, your dog may have parasites, allergies, skin infections, or even underlying hormonal or immune diseases like diabetes.

Always comb the hair at the base of the tail to check for fleas, especially if their flea treatments aren’t up to date. Thereafter, go for a veterinary check up if you suspect your dog may have allergies or another health issue. If your dog is scooting their butt on the ground make sure to look at remedies for dog scooting.

Stress relief

Finally, butt scratches can also be a form of relaxation and stress relief for dogs. Like humans, dogs can experience stress and anxiety, and scratching can be a soothing and calming activity for them, just like a massage. By providing your dog with a good butt scratch, you may be helping them feel more relaxed and content, which can have a positive impact on their overall well-being.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does my dog lick when I scratch his bum?

Dogs sometimes make air or nose licking movements when you scratch their bums as a reflex. The most common reflexive movement is the scratch reflex. Licking the air is similar in that being scratched activates their urge to groom and to lick you in return. You can read more in our article on why dogs lick the air.

Why do dogs like having their back scratched?

Dogs like having their back scratched because it’s a tough spot for them to get at themselves. Scratching their back relieves itchiness and dislodges dead hair. A good scratch is a great source of pleasure to most dogs and improves your bond with them. However, excessive itchiness can be a sign of a skin condition or health problem.

What is the dog scratch reflex?

When you scratch a dog at a spot where there is cluster of nerve endings, usually on the belly, neck, back, or butt, they typically start thumping their hind leg. This is a reflex to dislodge parasites or irritants at that area and is part of how a dog’s nervous system works. So it’s actually a dog’s reflex to dislodge an irritation on their skin. But this doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy it!

Final thoughts

There are a number of reasons why dogs like butt scratches, ranging from sensory stimulation to bonding and dealing with dead hair and itchy skin. Whatever the reason, providing your dog with a good scratch can be a simple and effective way to show them affection and strengthen your relationship with them.

So next time your furry friend is wagging their tail and giving you “the look,” don’t be afraid to give them a good butt scratch – they’ll thank you for it!


Tamsin De La Harpe


Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions.

Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

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