Why Do Dogs Like to Have the Base of Their Tails Scratched?

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Two dogs vying for their owner's attention.
Two dogs vying for their owner's attention. (Image: Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Tony)

A dog with a happily wagging tail can appear to be a very happy dog indeed. A dog that is getting affection and pets from an owner or human friend is thrilled beyond a measure of a doubt. Some spots on a dog are more sensitive to touch than others, and the base of the tail is one such spot.

Significance

The crux of the tail and body is similar to the base of the spine in humans. This area is filled with many sensitive nerve endings and is subject to a variety of stimuli.

Considerations

Because of the nerve endings in this area, the sensation of scratching can be pleasurable to some dogs and unpleasant to others. Not every dog will respond favorably to every physical touch.

Location

The base of the tail is an area that most dogs cannot adequately scratch themselves using their claws or teeth. As such, a scratch from human fingernails can provide some much needed relief.

Theories/Speculation

It is suspected by some that the base of the tail stimulates the scent glands of a dog. These glands, which run in a complex network around the perianal area, release a scent that allows dogs to communicate with one another regarding territory.

Health Potential

Dogs suffering from dry skin, mites, mange, fleas and other ailments may also have problems with this area. If a dog seems particularly itchy, or there are other signs indicating a health-related issue, seeking veterinary medical attention is suggested.

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References

  • "Clinical Textbook for Veterinary Technicians"; Joanna Bassert, Dennis McCurnin; 2009
  • " The Dog's Mind: Understanding Your Dog's Behavior"; Bruce Fogle, Anne B. Wilson; 1992
  • "How Dogs Think: What the World Looks Like to Them and Why They Act the Way They Do"; Stanley Coren; 2005
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