Can Dogs Be Ticklish

Written by Amber LaRock
Published: November 7, 2022
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Does your dog have a certain scratching spot that always sends their back legs into a kicking fit? Whether it is a specific spot on their belly or just behind their ears, the sensitive area is guaranteed to have them wiggling with glee. While many of us just assume this means we hit a scratching point the pup really enjoys, some often wonder if this is actually a response to being ticklish.

So can dogs be ticklish like humans? In this article, we will break down the science behind tickling in dogs and help you come to a conclusion on whether or not your canine friend is ticklish!

Are Dogs Ticklish? What Science Says


No matter how ticklish your dog is, they will always enjoy a good petting session!


Our pups can’t tell us how they feel when we have triggered that special scratch reflex on their belly, but a 2009 study performed at Sierra Nevada College might be able to offer us some insight. The main purpose of this study was to determine if dogs have their own form of laughter, but the team used attempted tickling to gather their research. They used microphones to record a group of dogs that were both interacting with people and other dogs and compared the noises they made during these different triggers. These triggers included both playing with other dogs and being tickled, and the results showed a specific response to joyful interactions.

It appeared as if dogs did make a unique sound that could be the canine version of laughing during these happy triggers. The dog’s laugh appears to be similar to their standard pant, but the laughing pant had a much broader range of frequency in comparison to the standard dog panting. Some dogs did voice this sound when they were being petted in certain areas, so this could mean that some dogs are ticklish like humans. We may never know the exact answer since our dogs cannot voice their experience, but these results are certainly convincing!

Are All Dogs Ticklish?

While it certainly seems as if the dogs involved in the Sierra Nevada College study were indeed ticklish and displayed their own form of laughter, we have to remember that every canine friend is different. Not every person is affected equally by being tickled, so our beloved pups are no different. A large majority of dogs may respond to certain scratches with uncontrollable wiggling and an involuntary leg kick, but there is nothing wrong with pups that don’t. No matter how ticklish your dog is, they will always enjoy a good petting session!

How Do I Know If My Dog Is Ticklish?

The best

way to find out your dog’s

ticklish spots is by petting them regularly and watching their reactions.


If you want to determine whether or not your dog is ticklish, you will need to be on the lookout for the most common signs of a ticklish pup. Every canine friend will vary on how they respond to the tickle sensation, but here are the most common signs to be aware of!

The most common signs of a ticklish dog include:

  • Involuntary leg kicking when a certain region is scratched
  • Twitching of the skin when a certain region is scratched
  • Increased panting during petting sessions
  • Pulling of the face, which often means the dog will turn their head back towards you, and their mouth will move into a strange smiling position
  • Pulling away from you when a ticklish region is scratched, which is most common when a dog’s feet are touched

If you notice any of the above signs when you put your dog, it is very possible that you have found a ticklish spot on their body!

Where Are Dogs Most Ticklish?

Whenever a person is tickled, the most common areas targeted are around the abdomen and under the armpits. If humans have areas in which they are most ticklish, does this mean dogs have sensitive areas well? The answer to this question is yes!

Dogs seem to be most ticklish in the following areas:

  • On their bellies
  • On the sides of their belly
  • Right behind the ears
  • On their paws

While these appear to be the most sensitive regions when it comes to tickling in dogs, every canine friend will vary! The best way to find out your dog’s ticklish spots is by petting them regularly and watching their reactions.

Does My Dog Like Being Tickled?

If your dog does not enjoy being tickled or petted on a certain part of their body, they will typically move away from the sensation.


Tickling is a sensation that most people either love or hate. While some people will be doubled over with laughter and joy, others will run from the idea of being tickled. Being tickled is a strange sensation, so it only makes sense that some pups would shy away from this feeling. Our dogs may be unable to vocalize that they do not like something, but you can certainly see evidence of it in their body language.

If your dog does not enjoy being tickled or petted on a certain part of their body, they will typically move away from the sensation. Whether this is pulling their paws away from you or simply getting up and moving, they will typically make an effort to move away from you. Some dogs will even grunt or growl in an effort to put an end to the feeling. If your dog ever shows you that they do not enjoy something, it’s important that you stop the behavior and avoid touching these regions in the future.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, being ticklish is not an experience that is unique to humans. Our dogs seem to experience a ticklish sensation similar to ours, and they show us with a kick of their leg or a twitch of their skin. We suggest being aware of the signs of a ticklish pup that we discussed above and always respecting your dog’s boundaries if they do not enjoy the feeling.

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The photo featured at the top of this post is © GBALLGIGGSPHOTO/

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About the Author

Amber LaRock is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering topics surrounding pet health and behavior. Amber is a Licensed Veterinary Technician with 12 years of experience in the field, and she holds a degree in veterinary technology that she earned in 2015. A resident of Chiang Mai, Thailand, Amber enjoys volunteering with animal rescues, reading, and taking care of her two cats.

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