Why do dogs shake their legs when you scratch them

Why do dogs shake their legs when you scratch them?

I noticed my dog doing this the other day and I'm not sure why. I don't scratch or pinch her anywhere pnful but it's annoying to get her to stop doing this.


It's called "leg-rubbing". Dogs like to rub their legs on things, especially when they're trying to soothe the pnful area (and the leg of course).

It's pretty normal for them to rub their legs on your clothes and even your skin, but it seems to be a particularly strong impulse with some dogs. Some seem to like to do it even when they're perfectly fine, probably because it's a behavior they've always done, while other dogs only do it when they're in pn. But there's nothing wrong with it, it's a natural behavior that's useful and even enjoyable to some dogs.


The behaviour is called leg rubbing and is a 'comfort' gesture. The body is rubbed to comfort the area in some way, either with the leg itself, the ground, or possibly the fur. It can be done from a distance, from a different environment (for instance on the sofa, on the armrest or if the dog is on your lap, etc.)

Some dogs (e.g. Labrador Retrievers) might also need reassurance for themselves, in which case they will rub the leg of the dog they are trying to calm down. This can be useful to calm the dog down, or it can be used by the dog as a sign that the person is in need of comfort.

Some dogs may find it soothing to rub their legs on something (e.g. on the armrest of the sofa). It is a good way of relieving stress. It can even be used as a way of playing.

There are some interesting studies on this (e.g. L.M. Buhl, D.D. Ollendick &, K.I. Hwang (2012) 'Rubbing Behavior as a Way of Providing Comfort' Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science 19(2): 149-155)


There's not an extensive scientific evidence to back this, but just a bit of a personal experience, I have a Golden retriever and when I'd be upset or stressed out, all I needed was to walk outside for a bit, the dog just seemed to sense it and walked with me for about half a mile until I felt more at peace. I always thought he did it out of love, but I think he just felt I needed to walk it off.

So, to answer your question, I think he was just being friendly.


You are more likely to encounter someone on their own turf than someone on yours. When that is the case, a dog or cat is using its knowledge of a person's territory to alert the human that something is wrong. Perhaps your dog sensed that the place where you are currently located would be less welcoming to a human.


Dogs can be more protective towards you than you may be aware, especially if you are not one of them. I don't think it has anything to do with "not trusting humans". I have heard it explned like this:

If you are in a "safe" place, then it makes sense that they should not interfere. You are safe, so they do not need to get in the way. They have a purpose.

If you are in an "unsafe" place, the dog knows that they can help, and that the person is in trouble. If they don't, the dog can sense it, and if they have the opportunity to help, they will.


It may be a combination of both reasons.

While on one hand, most people don't understand canine language or the concept of the dog being able to sense or understand the other person's emotional state, on the other hand, there's also the social aspect.

If you come across a dog and a dog owner, it's likely that the dog is more likely to want to interact with you than if you encountered an owner and a dog.

It's a social aspect, and there may be some underlying reasons, but you could see it as a simple form of greeting.


To begin with, all dog behavior is a form of communication. It may be the most complicated form of communication though. Many dogs can sense when their owners are angry, sad, scared, scared of strangers, happy, etc.

When a dog and owner are together there is a lot going on in their brns and in the world around them. As much as dogs want to protect and serve their owners, there's a lot more to their actions than that.

Dogs and their owners need to work together. A dog's owner must respond to a dog's signals in order to communicate and for a dog to feel like their owner is responsive, the owner must be able to receive the dog's cues and understand their actions.

There is much to the mental process that a dog and owner go through when communicating and working together. It requires both cooperation and communication. In order for this to happen and work, the dogs brn needs to be processing emotions as

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