Nearly all dogs loving having their ears rubbed. You wouldn’t think this would be such a common phenomenon. After all, there are hundreds of breeds, and all of their ears are different. Papillons’ look like wings, German shepherds’ are sharp peaks, and basset hounds have big, hanging floppies. But they all love a little ear work just the same. It’s pretty much universal. Dogs crave affection and touch from their owners, so a rub on the ears meets a basic need for communication.
It’s All About The Nerves
Ears are one of a handful of nerve centers on a dog’s body that are extra-sensitive to touch. The only other places that are nearly as sensitive are their bellies and the nooks between their toes.
When you rub a dog’s ears, the pleasure she feels is intense. And the good feelings don’t stop on the surface. Their ears contain nerve branches that extend to the internal organs, says. When you rub them, your dog doesn’t just feel good on the top of her head. The pleasure comes from inside her body too.
Because the ears are such a hotbed of nerves, they’re the primary target of people who practice acupuncture and acupressure. Putting pressure on the ears sends nerve impulses right through the body. There’s essentially an entire map of the body on the ear. In fact, many acupuncturists only work on ears, because they can treat the whole body that way.
Bliss From Natural Chemicals
It’s not uncommon for dogs to get so relaxed and blissful when they’re getting their ears rubbed that they slip into happy sleep. It’s not only because they’re feeling comfortable. Rubbing the ears sends nerve impulses to the hypothalamus and pituitary glands. These glands secrete endorphins, pain-killing, feel-good hormones that make dogs feel relaxed, even euphoric. When you rub your dog’s ears, she’s essentially getting high on her own hormones.
So is the person doing the petting. Researchers have found that people get a lot of the same benefits that their dogs do. Rubbing dogs’ ears triggers a flood of human endorphins. This in turn helps people relax and even lowers blood pressure.