Do Dogs Have Ticklish Spots?

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If you've ever scratched your pup in a particularly sensitive spot and he reacts by kicking his legs or making some laughter-like sounds, you may have found his sensitive "tickle" spot. If we define "tickling" to be a tingling sensation on the skin (which is something that results in a reflexive kick of the feet), then yes, most dogs have a tickle spot. The kicking which results from rubbing their tickle spot is a knee-jerk kind of reaction in our canine companions, but most dogs don't seem to mind it at all.

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Dogs do have a tickle spot.

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Dogs tickle spot

On most dogs, the most sensitive spot to tickling is their saddle region, which is made up of their belly, back, and their flanks, near the tops of their back legs. When you gently scratch at or stroke these sensitive spots, you may induce a reflex reaction from your pooch, in which he kicks out one or more of his legs in an attempt to scratch at the area himself. This is because you are inducing an itch-like sensation on the skin by stroking it with your fingers, similar to that produced by a flea or other irritant. Your pup tries to scratch at the area as a way to remove the irritant.

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Why so ticklish?

The reason that a pup appears to kick at the area you are tickling is due to a neurological reaction that is stimulated by your touch. This is an involuntary response and not a conscious one on his part, which is why he may appear surprised when this happens.

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Touching produces an involuntary response.
Image Credit: AlexanderFord/iStock/GettyImages

In fact, vets use this involuntary response to check for neurological problems and even nerve damage. If your dog responds as he should when scratched in the dog's tickle spot, this means that he may be just fine, but if he doesn't, it could indicate a health issue. The scratch reflex can be stimulated by your vet using small electrical pulses to simulate tickling.

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Overly sensitive skin

While a slight tickle response is normal for your pooch when you rub his tummy, back, or flanks, if he suddenly develops this reaction on other parts of his body, it could mean that he has a skin rash or other type of irritation. Sometimes fleas can cause dermatitis and sensitivity in the area around the base of your pooch's tail, leading to a tickle response when you scratch at the skin in this spot. In this case, you may want to visit your vet to see what you can do to relieve your dog's overly sensitive skin and get rid of any fleas on his coat.

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Do dogs like tickling?

Most pups appear to like it when you tickle them and some even appear to give a sort of pooch "smile" during the process. Although tickling makes the skin a bit itchy, you're also scratching at the skin at the same time, so it's typically pretty pleasant for your dog.

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Most dogs appear to like ticking.
Image Credit: Vera Aksionava/iStock/GettyImages

Keep your touch gentle and watch your pup's body language for any signs of distress. If he appears upset when he's tickled, snapping at you, or trying to run away, you should avoid doing this because it's causing him anxiety and discomfort. Get him to enjoy your touch by petting him for short periods of time and rewarding him with a treat for calm behavior.

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