behavior Sport and Canine Activities

Why Do Dogs Lay on Their Back and Wiggle?

Dogs Lay on Their Back

Your dog, whether a Golden Retriever or other breed does speak to you daily. They use body language to get their words across, what they seek or what they want from you.

Different actions mean different things to different breeds of dogs. However, rolling around on their backs and wiggling does not have too many possibilities of meaning.

Playful Rolling With Wiggles

Dogs Lay on Their Back

When you see your dog rolling around on his or her back with their four legs in the air, this is telling you that they feel happy and playful. This is a natural behaviour when dogs are playing with each other or with their human. When a dog does this while playing with another dog, it actually helps them to avoid the playful nips that occur to them, yet they would be able to get a few nips of their own in.

Scratching or Itching

There are times when a dog will roll around on his or her back because he or she has an itch and is trying to scratch it. The Golden Retriever or other breed may also be rolling and wiggling because they enjoy the feeling of the material they are on.

However, if you see that your dog is doing this a lot, you should likely check with your veterinarian. It could be allergies affecting the dog, or severely dry skin.

Nervous or Afraid during a Greeting

Dogs Lay on Their Back

Some dogs will drop down and roll on their backs when they are meeting a person for the first time. This is a sign of fear or anxiety. If there is another dog, your dog may be doing this action to simply let the other dog know that they are not a threat.

Dogs that are fearful and in this position, may leak a bit of urine while in this position. A dog that is on his back and growling, could signify that the dog is attempting to diffuse a conflict. This is most often done when the dog is nervous. The growling happens if the person they are nervous about or fearful of continues to get closer to him or her.

Sleeping on the Back

Dogs Lay on Their Back

Witnessing your dog sleeping on his back, with his legs in the air, tells you that he is feeling safe and secure with you. He or she is telling you he trusts you. Any dog that is willing to sleep on his back is definitely a dog that feels confident and secure.

However, this is not the only position that the dog will lay in when they feel safe and secure. Just like a human, a dog will lay in many different positions.

Disguising the Dog Scent

Dogs Lay on Their Back

Oddly enough, this rolling over on the back may be an instinct from way back. Many times this action may have nothing to do with its life right now. Instinctually, however, the dog is trying to cover up dog scents so that they may not be detected easily.

This was a useful behaviour in days past when the dog could easily be prey for another animal. However, there are dogs that are trying to survive in the world today that may roll on their backs also. This is a defensive and self-protection mode.

Thankfully, your dog does not need to actually worry about this today, however, it is a built-in self-preservation instinct that they will follow.

You may find that while on a walk with your canine, they drop down and roll over another pile of poo, or smelly garbage. Do not get frustrated with your dog, it is his basic instinct kicking in.

Your Dog is on the Defensive

We would normally look at the dog and think that he or she wants his tummy rubbed. This may be true, however, some dogs find it easier to fight another dog in this position. This position gives your dog an easier way to manoeuvre his body during these times of aggression. This position gives your dog more leverage. It will also allow your dog to reach the other dog’s unprotected underbelly.

For a dog that knows he or she is simply not able to overpower the other dog, this is likely the best position to be in.

Submissive Action

Dogs Lay on Their Back

You will not likely find your dog rolling on his back to show submission during a play fight, again, remember this is an instinctive action on behalf of your dog. On the simplest of levels, this is also showing that your dog poses no threat to the hierarchy of other dogs. Your dog is showing that this is a total submissive move on his part.

This is also an action that your dog will take if it enters an area where there is another dog. This shows the other dog that it is not worth the fight in front of him. Another reason the dog will do this is to make itself look smaller, he or she will also hide its tail and flatten its ears back.

Happy Dog

When you see your dog rolling around on his back and wiggling he could be signifying that he is a happy canine. When you pet your dog, your dog is in the happiest state that he or she can be in. The dog does not feel afraid or scared around you.

This is how your dog shows complete faith and trust. You will see this behaviour in your dog when they are sleeping. It shows a complete sense of relaxation. When it comes to being this dog’s owner, you should be pleased, the canine family will not exhibit this behaviour for just any person.

Belly Rubs

Dogs Lay on Their Back

When your dog wants your attention, he will lay down and try to get you to rub their belly. Your dog will show excitement and extreme happiness. When your dog is excited it will stick its tongue out and wag its tail.

Showing Trust

Again, the dog who is comfortable enough to lay on its back is showing signs of sincere trust. This could also be a sign of love to humans. When a dog is in the wild, and it lay on its back, it is not a safe position for the dog. If a predator would show up, it would take the dog longer to get out of this position. This is completely opposite of what the dog may act like around you or the family.

Cooling Down

Dogs Lay on Their Back

When the temperatures start to rise outside and it gets hot, all dogs try to find a way to cool down in the best way they can. The underside of the dog’s belly has less fur on it. This means by lying on the back, the dog is managing to get air to the areas that are not as well insulated as others.

This is a method that dogs use to regulate their body temperature.

If this seems to be the reason that your dog is doing it for this purpose, try to develop more areas that produce shade for your dog. This may mean that you need a tent with windows, or a tarp over an area to make shade.

Some dogs would love to have access to a kiddie pool filled with water. This will enable the dog to cool off and even give him or her some playtime. You may be surprised how many dogs like to be splashed or played with in the water.

Luring Prey In

Not that your dog is a hunter, however, it may be a sort of game to the dog to crouch down, or lay on his back to lure prey in. This is most often done as a way to find a friend to play with. However, if the dog growls, nips or threatens to bite, it is necessary that the dog be taken to a trainer to prevent this sort of behaviour.


Dogs Lay on Their Back

For many dogs, this may start out as a simple way to attract attention or get you to rub his belly, but sometimes it can turn into an obsessive form of behaviour. If there is no logical reason, this is behaviour that should be stopped also. Find a trainer within a close distance and within your budget.

Unless it is done in a way that could be harmful to the dog, there is no reason to stop the behaviour. The dog is not likely rolling on its back in a form of submissiveness. The dog may not be fearful of anything at the time.

Determine the reason for the behaviour, however, there is no reason to really stop it. If you find it necessary then work on it slowly, or consider taking the dog to a trainer where they could give advice in regards to ways to prevent it, or do the training themselves.

Some simple way to redirect the behaviour is to start playing. Give the dog a bone, or toys and distract the dog from the behaviour of rolling on his back.