My Dog Yelps When I Touch Her Lower Back?

dog yelps touched lower back
Photo by Paul Hudson on Flickr

As dog lovers, many of us take our pets’ health, both physical and mental, seriously. 

Sometimes we come across an issue with our four-legged companion that scares us and sends us scrambling for answers. 

It’s completely understandable why we would fear something bad happening to a member of our family, and that’s why we hope to find some answers. 

A very common yet scary issue that we may encounter with our dogs is that they may yelp when we touch their lower back. 

Many times we do not know what could cause this, as they were completely normal just a few hours before. 

Or we have done nothing we would think of as strenuous enough to cause pain in their lower back. 

The good news is that there are some benign causes of why your dog may help when touched on their lower back, but it’s always best to do our research and make sure that it’s nothing major.

What are some common reasons dogs might yelp when touched on their lower back?

There are three principal causes or reasons your dog might yelp when you touch their lower back. 

The first and most scary thing is that they may feel some sort of physical pain that is causing them to react in an effort to protect themselves. 

These types of reactions often show up as snapping at your hand and a yelp. 

They may not be trying to bite you, but they are trying to warn you off that what you’re doing is hurting them. 

The second of the three principal causes is often an emotional response to being touched on their lower back. 

Fear and anxiety or past traumatic experiences can cause this. 

A dog reacting in this manner is likely to shy away from you or pull away from you, maybe even curl up a little into themselves to protect themselves from their emotional response to being touched on their lower back.

The third of the principal causes is the most benign, and that is for attention or out of excitement. It’s important to remember that our dogs are creatures of habit and they will develop bad habits. If we react positively to them having a negative reaction, they may recreate that negative reaction for our positive reaction. 

That sounds a little confusing, so let’s clarify, if a dog reacts scared, do something and we calm them down and shower them with love and affection because we don’t want them to be scared they can remember that reaction that we had. 

So they may simulate being afraid of that thing even though we’ve cured them of that fear, in order to generate that reaction from us. 

Personally, I think it’s kind of cute that they can fake being afraid or in pain because they want our attention, but it’s also important that we don’t jump to conclusions and just assume they want attention. 

It’s best to do our due diligence as faithful fur parents and make sure that they aren’t experiencing any physical or emotional pain.

Types of Physical Pain They May Be Suffering From

One of the first things we want to look at when a dog yelps with a lower back touch is what types of physical pain they might suffer from. 

One of the most common types of physical pain that they have is neck or back pain. 

This can often come from a pulled muscle or an injury of some sort that they sustained. 

When looking for this type of injury, you want to do a careful but thorough examination of their body. 

You will often find that they may have more than one part of their body that’s in pain, and they rarely react unless you touch or get close to a part that is hurt. 

Now it’s very important to examine your dog’s overall health. 

Neck and back problems can be very serious, just like with humans. 

If your dog is trying to only watch you with their eyes or is severely limiting their movement, they may be experiencing more than just a pulled muscle and it’s time to get them to the vet as quickly as possible. 

Just like in humans, we want to limit their mobility as much as possible if we suspect a neck or spine injury. 

Now on the other hand if your dog is just showing some symptoms of maybe pulling a muscle in their lower back and they can move about regularly except for that sore area you can often wait and see if they recover and actually or if you’re more comfortable, you can call your vet and schedule an appointment but remember that’s not an emergency.

Many times dogs end up getting up there in age and start becoming classified as Senior Dogs. 

Just like with humans, getting older comes with its own trials and tribulations, and some of these trials and tribulations include joint and muscle pain. 

This joint and muscle pain can often result in them reacting in pain to their lower back, where they have a lot of joints that come together from their rear legs. 

Remember, these are the power houses, those rear legs are what they used to run around the backyard when they were young and they have a lot of muscles and a lot of joints in there. 

In senior dogs, you’ll often see them slow it down a little more and they get tired much more often. 

They’re more likely to experience pain all over their body because all of their joints will become swollen and sore with age. 

Sadly, this is a natural part of life; it’s a part that we as humans also experience. 

There are many supplements and medicines out there that claim to help your dog with joint or muscle pain. 

But it’s best to do your research and maybe schedule a visit with your vet to decide what’s best for your vet so that they can continue to live the rest of their life in as much comfort as we can impart on them.

Now we come to the toughest to diagnose the reason dogs may yelp when we touch their lower back. 

Sometimes when they have an infection, it may come across as pain because of inflammation in their body. 

This inflammation and swelling causes pressure to be put on joints, muscles, and even nerve endings. 

When we apply pressure from the other side, those nerve endings fire off and they react from the pain. 

If you think your dog may have an infection, there are some other things to be on the lookout for: they will often have symptoms of vomiting, diarrhea and may be sluggish. 

Again, the best thing to do in this scenario is to make an appointment with your vet as soon as possible. 

I would classify this as an emergency, to get them in there and get this infection under control. 

Fortunately, many infections are easily treated once they have been diagnosed by a vet and medicine has been prescribed. 

Types of Mental Strain They May Be Suffering From

If you’ve gone through the process of diagnosing your dog for physical pain and have not come up with anything, it may be time to move on to another possibility. 

Dogs like humans do suffer from mental strain and they can sometimes carry traumatic experiences forward in life. 

I know from personal experience adopting a rescue dog that sometimes traumatic experiences will continue to affect the way they live. 

If your dog experienced abuse in the past, they may react out of fear when you go to touch them in a place where they were abused. 

This is a very painful thing to deal with and it’s something that can be heartbreaking for dog lovers. 

The good news is that love fixes most of this, while they may continue to carry the scars of past abuse, showering them with love and affection can often help them heal emotionally from it and being patient you will see over time a dog that reacts with fear to being touched will often be able to overcome that.

Our dogs can often feel anxiety and or stress in certain situations and that may cause them also to have a negative reaction to being touched. 

An example of this is if you go on vacation and your dog suffers from separation anxiety, they may be very anxious when you get back and seem to have forgotten you a little when you go to reach out to them. 

Well, they haven’t forgotten you, but they are actually just trying to readjust to a new situation that’s fearful and stressful and anxiety written for them. 

Just like with a dog that’s been abused in the past, we want to make sure that we are very patient and that we shower them with love and affection as they readjust to the situation at hand.


So there are several reasons your dog may react with a yelp or a bark when you reach out to touch their lower back. It’s very important that you try to diagnose the reason quickly and efficiently. 

We want to make sure that there is not an emergency like an infection or maybe a neck or spine injury that needs to be addressed immediately. 

You also want to continue to monitor the situation if it’s being caused by physical pain. 

Make sure that they are healing or if they have joint or muscle problems, we are doing everything we can to make them as comfortable as possible. 

We also want to make sure that we continue to shower our dogs with love and affection and make sure that they understand we will never abuse them and that we will love them no matter what. 

Finally, we also want to make sure that they don’t develop those bad habits and get that Yelp going just to get some more attention, even though that is super cute.

James Grayston

My name is James and I love dogs. have owned four Golden Retrievers in the past 15 years. Currently I own two "Goldies"- a five year old and a seven month old. The photo shows me with our youngest when she was about 7 weeks old!