Most dogs like being scratched in areas where it is difficult or impossible to get to themselves.
Both Shiba Sephy and Siberian Shania like being scratched on the tummy. Often, they will roll over and look at me with an expectant grin. Then, when I go over and scratch their bellies, they will sometimes make a kind of purring noise.
I love scratching their bellies!
Where does your dog like being scratched?
Many dogs also enjoy being scratched on the head. Shania likes being scratched on the top of her muzzle and between her eyes. Sephy likes being scratched around his neck area at the back of his head.
Another secret scratch spot is on their back, right behind the shoulder blades of their front legs. If I get it just right, Shania will start thumping her back legs. It is awesome when she does that!
The inner part of his back leg is another Sephy favorite. He especially likes being scratched on the soft area where the back leg first connects to the body. He will often roll onto his back and orient his back leg so that I may better serve his scratch requests.
Other favorite dog scratch zones include the chest and the base of the tail. However, Sephy and Shania seem less interested in those areas.
Scratch, Pet, Rub, or Massage
In addition to favorite scratch zones, there is also the issue of technique.
We may scratch, pet, rub, or massage.
Petting usually refers to a gentle tap applied with an open hand. Often, a dog is petted at the top of his head. Both Sephy and Shania do not enjoy head petting, they will usually duck and avoid.
Some dogs may also see a hand reaching over their head as a threat, and they may get fearful and/or aggressive when approached in this manner by a stranger. When meeting new dogs, it is important to first ask permission from their owner before approaching the dog. Always stand a good distance away so that the dog does not feel hampered in or trapped.
Instead of tapping the dog on the top of his head, it is less threatening to reach from below his head and scratch his chest. It is especially important to teach children the right techniques for greeting a dog.
Usually, I give my dogs scratch sessions when we are at home. Scratching is a more rigorous action, and it can sometimes cause a dog to get more excited. As a result, I do not usually do scratching when we are outside for our walks, because there is already a fair amount of excitement in the great outdoors. I find that scratching is best practiced in calm and quiet areas.
When we are out on our walks, Shania will sometimes get very tense when she spots a squirrel or a cat. She is so excited that she is practically quivering with anticipation for the chase. To help her relax, I will sometimes give her a very slow massage. This helps to relax her muscles, and ultimately it also helps her to relax.
I only do this if she is still in control of herself and is able to hold herself back. If the prey stimulus is too strong, it is best to remove the dog from the environment and from the stimulus.
There is also the TTouch method which focuses on massage through a specific circular motion with the fingers or hands.
Based on trainer advice, I tried this method briefly on Sephy in his early puppy days, but it did not have a big effect in calming him. Perhaps it would have worked better on a dog like Shania, who does not escalate as quickly as a high-strung Shiba.
Dog Scratch Zones
Did I miss any favorite scratch zones? Where does your dog like being scratched? Which scratch technique does your dog enjoy most?
Feel free to share them with us below.