Why Does My Dog Kick their Leg? - The Scratch Reflex

If there's anything a dog loves more than chasing down squirrels it's belly rubs. While petting your furry pal you might have wondered why does my dog kick their leg while I scratch them? Turns out there's a scientific reason for it!

Don't worry, they're not kicking you away

Our dogs have built-in irritation detectors that get triggered when you scratch them in their sweet spot. Ordinarily, it's mean to kick off fleas, ticks, or other irritants that could mean trouble. It's called the scratch reflex.

In your case, there's no irritant, just some loving scratches.Β  But how are you triggering this for your dog?Β 

There are clusters of nerves that get stimulated when you pet them. If you notice your dog trying to get away from you, the feeling might be too overwhelmingΒ for them according to Animal Planet. But if they don't mind, keep on scratching!

It Serves Another Purpose

Besides it being funny when you scratch their sweet spot, veterinarians have this on their checklist during a health screening.

Dogs without a scratch reflex could have suffered nerve damage or have other neurological problems. Popular Science noted that dogs with allergies also have more intense reactions to bring on the scratch reflex.

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