Dogs do all kinds of strange things. One of them is “bowing.” As dog owners, we’ve probably seen our pups do the bow when they’re feeling playful. And when it’s cute and certainly points to them wanting to have fun, there is meaning behind the gesture. If you’ve been wondering what is behind the position, then you’ll be happy to know that there is an explanation. 

The bow is most commonly referred to as the “play bow” since it best expresses how they’re feeling. The bow is a common body language gesture that dogs use as communication. This playful gesture most often is their way of saying that they want to play. That is the most widely relayed message that dogs will bow for. However, occasionally they will employ the doggie bow as a way of apologizing, sometimes when they’re playing but accidentally get too rough. You may have witnessed your pup do this one or twice during playtime with you.

When it comes to social hierarchy, the gesture makes no difference to status. Alpha dogs will bow to beta dogs and vice versa. In fact, many dogs when they first meet, regardless of whether or not they’re more dominant or not, will play bow at one another as a friendly gesture. It’s like a way for them to make friends. Dogs will also do the doggie bow during some instances of their mating routines as a way of expressing they’re single and ready to mingle. The doggie bow is something that is regularly used and the message it is trying to convey is easily interpreted from the context of the situation. However, if your dog hasn’t been fully socialized, they might not know how to take the bow from another dog. If they’ve never been exposed to the bow then they may react negatively towards it. So if you notice any aggressive behavior then it’s always a good idea to get them properly trained in order to avoid any future aggression. 

Of course, if your dog makes this gesture towards you it’s always a good idea to accept. You don’t want to hurt their feelings after all!


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