Have you ever tickled “that spot” on your dog’s body, and witnessed his knee-jerk reaction? You know the one I mean – where his back legs start moving like crazy!? And it seems that the faster you rub, the more furiously he’ll move his legs as if he’s scratching at something!
This is simply a scratch reflex, and is nothing to worry about, and it certainly doesn’t hurt your dog when you rub him here – although just like in people, it may irritate him if he is ticklish.
The exact tickle spot can be different for individual dogs, and you may even find that your dog either has multiple spots that cause him to react, or that they change sometimes. Often though, it’s somewhere on the belly that tends to produce this fun response. He reacts by wanting to scratch, simply because your rubbing in that area makes him feel itchy – really for the same reason that we react to being tickled. Like us, dogs have sensory nerves that lie under the skin. If nerves are stimulated when your dog is tickled, he will be left feeling itchy. The itchiness is why he tends to react in that funny way – almost as if he’s riding a bicycle!
Funnily enough, although the more technical veterinary term for this reaction is the “scratch reflex”, I have actually seen a word used to describe it in the Urban Dictionary – there it’s called the “blibula”! Not all dogs have this special spot though, so don’t worry if yours doesn’t seem to react like this, despite your efforts to tickle him!