I grew up with a dog and I thought it was perfectly normal for a dog to kick his legs while getting a nice pet.
In fact, dogs love to move their legs when they’re getting the best scratching or petting of their lives.
It’s just something that comes naturally.
So, I really didn’t question this behavior.
But, my 3-year old-nephew who had never grown up with doggies around him asked me why dogs did that.
He pointed out that his kitties didn't behave that way.
And, I was as curious as a cat!
In this article, I would like to answer the question, “Why do dogs kick their legs when you pet them?” and explain you a few things about a dog’s anatomy.
So, are you ready?
Let’s just jump right in, shall we?
Why Does My Dog Move His Legs When I’m Petting Him: The Main Reasons
In this section of the article, I will share with you a few reasons why your dog is kicking his legs while being pet.
Let’s take a look.
It’s Just a Reflex
Dogs have an involuntary reflex known as the scratch reflex.
The thing is that your doggy has a lot of sensory neurons running along his skin which get activated when they’re stimulated.
And it really doesn’t matter what’s touching your dog’s sweet spot---it could be your hand, it could be another doggy, or it could even be a parasite.
Your dog will scratch his legs due to this reflex.
There’s a Receptive Field Involved
Dog’s don’t start kicking their legs when you pet them on the head or the chest.
Rather, there’s a certain area which causes this bizarre behavior to take place.
A specific region of the skin which is referred to as the receptive field of the reflex is where this response occurs.
A touch to this specific area will easily elicit this response in your doggy friend.
Does Your Dog Like Getting Scratched?
Certain people believe that dogs kick their legs when you pet them because they get irritated and want you to stop.
On the other hand, it is the dog owners that claim that their dog actually loves it and that it is the dog’s way of showing how much he like getting scratched.
But, could it be that the dog is actually irritated.
That’s something that depends on every individual dog. While some do it when they’re in bliss, others simply kick you when they want you to stop.
You should understand the dog’s temperament and body language to be sure.
Conclusion: Why Do Dogs Kick Their Legs When You Pet Them?
The main reason dogs kick their legs when you pet them is simply because of the scratch reflex which occurs when you’re scratching your dog on his sweet spot.
Every dog may not necessarily have the same sweet spot.
Dogs generally do like to get scratched but you need to also keep an eye on the dog’s mood to know for sure.
I hope this article is helpful in answering the question, why do dogs kick their legs when you pet them.