Dog Language: What Does It Mean When My Dog “Play Bows”?

November 4th, 2008 by Dan

The “play bow” is a classic dog move, but did you know this pose (back-end in the air with head and paws lowered to the ground) is also seen in wolves and coyotes? This move is a powerful social tool among all canines. It allows dogs of all shapes, sizes and breeds to communicate that their intentions are friendly and that they are ready for a rousing round of chasing and romping. The position is non-threatening as the head is extremely low (dominance in dogs is often shown when one dog puts his head over the other dog’s head or back).

Dogs who have dominant tendencies or who are aloof often have troubles getting other dogs to respond to their playbows, even when they attempt the move.

Photo by Ypacarai

It is incredibly important to socialize your puppy or dog to others at a young age so he or she can begin to understand the intricacies of canine body language. Puppies who are not well socialized can turn into maladjusted adult dogs who sometimes see the playbow as a threatening move and who may, in turn, act aggressively.

Photo by Kamia the Wolf

Leave a Reply