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Play Bow: What Does This Common Dog Behavior Mean?

Learn why your dog drops to the ground when another dog approaches.

Dogs and humans have lived together harmoniously for thousands of years. Most of the time, we're able to communicate with one another pretty well. Still, there is some canine body language that is often misunderstood by humans. One such situation is when a dog drops her belly to the ground when another dog approaches.

Why Does My Dog Drop Down When Another Dog Comes Over?

If your dog drops to her belly or dips her front end down while leaving her rear end in the air when another dog approaches, you may think that she's acting submissive or nervous.

However, most of the time, this dropping down gesture is an invitation to the other dog to play. In fact, the posture of dropping the front end and leaving the rear end up is one that some dogs also use with humans, and it's called a play bow.

A dog commonly bows to another dog to invite play.

When Dropping Down Isn't an Invitation to Play

There are times when a dog isn't inviting another dog to play when she drops to the ground. If your dog's crouch is accompanied by growling, snarling, or laying her ears back against her head, she is not asking to play.

Also, if your dog rolls onto her back and/or urinates, she may be feeling nervous or attempting to show submission to the new dog.

However, a drop to the ground or a play bow accompanied by a relaxed facial expression, wagging tail, and other eager body language simply means that your dog is excited to make a new friend and take a romp around with him.

Dogs that want to play also commonly raise or extend a paw to the other dog in connection with dropping down or play bowing.

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