I already know you’re a good dog parent, otherwise you’d never have clicked on this blog. You probably even have some amount of practice giving belly rubs to your dogs (and your cats, too), but as an official member of the canine species, I wanted to speak up now, before your dog has to speak up for themselves.
You see, it’s not that we don’t appreciate your efforts, but… your belly rubs could be better.
The 3 Bs of Good
To keep it simple, and easy for you to remember, I’ve developed the “3 B System” (the Bs are because it’s for my belly). Now, before we get any further, I want to make sure to state that in no way am I a licensed veterinarian, nor am I a trained canine expert. I’m just a canine, but in my long eight years I’ve learned a lot of things about napping and spent a fair amount of time training my adopted parents in the art of good belly rubs.
Much of what I know has come from my experiences at doggie daycare, where they seem to really excel in the 3 Bs. I hear that some doggie daycares are so good at belly rubbing that they make dog parents pay extra for them! Those have gotta be some belly rubs!
Before I get distracted thinking about those awesome (and free!) belly rubs from my friends at daycare, let’s get back to the Bs.
#1. Be Alert
First of all, you should be actively rubbing the belly. Not too hard, not too gently, but with a medium-speed, consistent stroke. Did you know that your active stroking of my belly can help us bond from the release of oxytocin? It’s true! Science-types have been studying dogs more closely these days and they’ve learned that canines and people are more alike than you might have imagined.
Dr. Gregory Burns, a neuroscientist for humans, had the clever idea to put his dog into a functional MRI (also known as the Big Scary Tube) to learn more about how the dog brain works in comparison to the human brain. He even wrote a book about it. My mom keeps bugging me to read it, but the last book she suggested was “Marley & Me” and I just about lost it during the part about the thunderstorm. She can’t be trusted with literature.
#2. Be Prepared
Don’t even start to rub the belly if you’re not prepared to be there for the long haul. Get your snacks, a lovely beverage, the television remote and commit to this fully! Look, I may spend my days running around with my pals at doggie daycare, but I’m thinking about you when I do it. I’d rather be belly rubbin’ with you any day, but I understand that if you don’t go to that place you call “work,” we can’t get those really fancy treats — you know the ones, with the pink and yellow swirls — so I’m happy to settle for the next best thing.
Don’t get me wrong, doggie daycare is great! But it’s also pretty awesome to just hang out with you, even if you’re just paying the phone bill or doing the dishes (especially when you’re doing the dishes!) My point is that the time we spend together is precious and shouldn’t be interrupted by your need to go to the bathroom or having forgotten your evening tea.
#3. Beyond the Belly
Advanced belly rubbers may want to try to rub other spots, like ears and that place next to my tail that I just can’t quite reach. That’s a pretty fine spot for scratching, no lies. When you do the ears, take it slow — that stuff is delicate! If I keep trying to redirect your hand to the belly, just give me that one. That spot at the base of my tail? Don’t spend too much time there. After more than a minute or two it really stops paying off.
When in doubt, go back to the belly. Maybe I’m not in the mood for an ear rub, or possibly I’m feeling self-conscious about how floppy my ears are getting as I grow older. Gravity is not kind, my friend. I’ll help you figure out where to scratch, don’t worry. Always begin and end with the belly. You simply cannot go wrong if you stick to the basic Bs.
One More B for Your Bonnet
Have you heard that there’s a new Hounds Town location opening in Bergen County? It’s almost ready to open! I’ve gotten some pretty good belly rubs from the nice people at Hounds Town, I know they’ll treat your dog right at our Belly-Rubbin’ Bergen Bodega! They tell me belly rubs are free there and they’ll also give me treats and my regular medication for free, too, so triple win!
Watch the website for more announcements and information on getting started at doggie daycare!