For cats, getting a head scratch from their owners actually reminds them of their mothers. Dodman said that as kittens, they received grooming and nurturing from their moms who constantly licked their heads and neck areas until they were old enough to groom themselves.
Once these kittens have been adopted or given to humans as pets, they regard their humans as their mother. If their humans make a habit out of scratching and petting their heads, it creates a bond that reinforces how they see their owners as their new moms.
Cats also emit highly concentrated scents when their heads are scratched. This odor spreads through the air to mark their territory. But because head scratching is such a unique non-verbal language for kittens, Dodman stated that hes not surprised there are scent markers.
This also explains why cats love to rub their heads, cheeks, and chin on someone they are so fond of. They do this to leave a scent and to express their friendly and loving feelings for that human.
Dogs, on the other hand, love a good head scratch simply because their owners are giving them attention and love – its the “were connecting and bonding” part of it. And if thats not enough, dogs also love to get their ears scratched and caressed, but this for a more physical reason than head scratch. Dogs have sensitive nerve centers in the areas of their head near the ears. When their owners gently touch this part with a slight pressure, it sends a calming and soothing effect.
Where to Pet Dogs
Experts state that not all dogs are comfortable with getting their head scratched or patted, or their ears caressed. Its an issue of personal space that dogs associate with stress or discomfort.
In fact, even in loving homes, some dogs might even try to duck and avoid the hand of their owners who are reaching out to pat their head. Most trainers even advise against patting a dogs head and parents with young kids need to teach this to their children to avoid triggering the dog into aggression.
Why do dogs like their heads rubbed?Dogs, on the other hand, love a good head scratch simply because their owners are giving them attention and love – it’s the “we’re connecting and bonding” part of it. And if that’s not enough, dogs also love to get their ears scratched and caressed, but this for a more physical reason than head scratch.
The Real Reason Dogs Kick When You Scratch Them
Our dogs love a good cuddle. But the one thing that always gets our dogs in a good mood is an ear scratch. They seem to absolutely adore these moments and we see it as they go into a trance of contentment. We’ve all had those nice bonding moments with our pups. They usually play out like this: us sitting on the couch, our dog jumping up to join, and us reaching over and gently patting their heads before we move to the scratch behind the ears. It’s something that our pups immediately melt over and they can’t seem to get enough. I have a friend with a Jack Russell who adores having that spot behind her ears massaged. If she sits beside you on the couch you are obliged to scratch her behind the ears for a good hour – she will gently pat your arm with her paw if you dare to stop before she’s had her fill. It’s quite cute. But what is it about the ear rubs that gets all dogs into an instant state of bliss?
Besides the fact that they’re getting our undivided attention, there are certain nerve endings in your dog’s ears that are quite sensitive. Whenever these nerves are stimulated by touch, they send a signal through their body. This releases endorphins that are the “feel good” hormones. Naturally, these will send your dog into a state of calm. The nice thing is that rubbing your dog behind their ears doesn’t just help them relax, it can also help you too. Studies have shown that petting a dog can have significant health benefits for humans, such as reduced anxiety thanks to the release of endorphins as well.
Of course, the key is to give a successful ear rub is to start at the base of the ears and then work your way out. You can gently massage your dog’s inner ear folds, as well as gently squeezing their ears in a circular motion. It takes several tries to figure out the precise massage technique that works for your dog – every pooch is different!
So, next time your pup is insistent on ear scratches, think of it as a win-win for the two of you. How often to you give your dog an ear scratch? What are your techniques? Let us know!