Dogs love being scratched, and when you hit that spot and and they start kicking their leg, it is definitely amusing to watch. It’s usually a spot between their hip and their belly, and the reaction ranges between a twitch and full on kicking. Some dogs have their spot elsewhere; even behind their ear is a possibility. It is a source of enjoyment for many owners, but there is often the question of why do they do that? Why do they react that way to scratching? Especially since its usually only one spot that gets this reaction.
It is actually a reflex. Whether its a protective reflex or a reflex to skin irritation usually depends on where the ‘spot’ is and what their reaction is. If you look closely, you can usually tell what the reasoning is. They are very distinct difference between a protective reflex and a skin irritation.
The reaction for a protective reflex is usually more of a twitch, whether it is a small twitch or a large one. It is also usually in reaction to scratching a spot by the hip or on the belly and it is usually more for male dogs than female. Like the human male reflex to protect their groin, dogs have the same reflex. While it doesn’t account for all of it, it is a common reason why dogs kick their legs.
The instinct to protect the groin is natural to all animals. Not only are they hoping to protect their reproduction organs, it is also usually a sensitive are in general, and therefore easily injured. This is also why some dogs will respond with the same kicking motion when you are not scratching by their hips. You may be scratching near a sensitive spot that hurts if you touch it. They will react this way when it isn’t close enough to the sensitive spot to actually hurt them, but close enough for the dog to be alerted and to want to protect themselves.
The other reason for the kicking reaction is a skin irritation. There are three different reasons that they may kick because of skin irritation. It is possible that you are actually scratching an irritated spot. It is also possible that the scratching actually causes a skin irritation. A third reason that is possible is that it is a neurological reaction.
Often times dog owners will scratch an irritated spot without realizing it. The dog won’t tell you that the spot itches, but they can’t always reach the spot that itches with their legs. So the dog is kicking his leg because you are scratching a spot that was irritating them and they are thinking that because you can reach it, maybe they can too.
It is also possible that, for a similar reason, your scratching is causing the irritation, or perhaps just worsening it. Dogs don’t complain about something that hurts or something that itches. They usually just ignore it. When you scratch a spot that is already irritated, for whatever reason, while they might not have been scratching it already, the action of you scratching the dog made it itch more.
It is also possible that the action itself caused the itch. While the spot may not have itched before, it is entirely possible that the owner is scratching too hard or too light, making the spot itch to the dog. It is a spot that might not have itched otherwise. Similar to when something tickles on a human, the touch is causing them to itch.
There is also neurological reasons. There are many dogs that have issues neurologically due to inbreeding, bad genetics or a number of diseases. There are some dogs whose inbreeding causes they brains to swell causes seizures in extreme cases, as well as reactions such as kicking in minor cases. If this is the case, there are usually other signs of neurological problems and the dog owner should consult a Veterinarian.
Whatever the reason that the dog is itching, the reaction is still amusing to watch for any dog owner. Whether they are itching, twitching or kicking, it is something that could be caused by a number of reasons. The most common ones being a protective reflex or a skin irritation. In most cases, there is no need for concern from the dog owners, but if you are worried that your dog’s kicking may be cause for concern, contact a Veterinarian.