Does your dog lay down when they see other dogs? This can be problematic, particularly if you are walking your pooch when it occurs. There are several reasons why your dog may be laying down like this. These include fear or a desire to play.
Why does my dog lie down when he sees other dogs?
Dogs are social creatures, and it’s important for them to interact with other dogs. When your pooch lays down in front of other dogs, it can be a sign they struggle with social anxiety. However, they may simply be excited and want to play with the other dog.
Invitation to Play
The best reason your dog may lay down when they see other dogs is because they want to play. A dog will often use a “play bow” to let other dogs know they want to play.
They will lower the front half of their body, while holding their butt in the air. They may even wiggle their rear to further punctuate the invitation.
You’ll notice their tail is upright, and their body language is relaxed. They may also be smiling, or appear excited or happy.
Dogs will also lay down wen they see other dogs as a sign of submission. In the wild, dogs have a pack hierarchy. The alpha is the “top dog”, and all other pack members submit to them.
Betas are submissive to the alpha, but not other dogs. Omegas are the lowest level of the hierarchy. They are submissive to alphas and betas.
Beyond this, dogs tend to work out their place when meeting other dogs. If your dog meets a dominant dog at the park, they may be submissive to them. However, they may be dominant when around a dog who is more submissive than they are.
It’s important to note there’s a big difference between submission and fear. A submissive dog does so willingly, out of respect instead of fear.
If a dog is showing submission to another dog, they may lay down in front of them. They will not make eye contact. They may smile, and even pee.
They may also roll over, exposing their belly. Because this is such a vulnerable part of their body, this is a strong sign of submission.
As mentioned previously, fear is different from submission. Your dog may lay down when seeing another dog because they are scared.
Laying down allows them to look smaller and nonthreatening. Laying down also allows them to protect their stomach. This can make them feel safer and more protected.
Signs your dog is scared include shaking, whining, or hiding behind you.
If your pooch is scared of another dog, they may stay in the laying down position. If the dog approaches, they may growl or snap at them.
It’s important to know that aggression often comes from fear. This is called fear-based aggression. If your pooch is laying down due to fear, it can easily escalate to a fight. This is particularly true if they are on a leash, and can’t flee from the situation.
Doesn’t Want to Leave
This does happen from time to time. Your dog may lay down when they see another dog because they want to hang out with them. If they lay down, you can’t lead them away from their new friend.
If this is the case, you’ll notice that they are relaxed or playful. Their tail will be upright or wagging. Their ears will be alert but relaxed.
You may have inadvertently encouraged your dog to lay down when they see other dogs. How do you react when they do this? Do you pay attention to them, trying to encourage them to get up? Do you pet them? Offer them a treat?
These reactions will cause your pooch to keep up the behavior, because they know when they do something good or fun will happen. This is positive reinforcement, and it’s how you train your dog.
The problem is that sometimes, we accidentally train them to do something we don’t want them to do through our reactions to their behavior.
Why Is My Dog Scared of Other Dogs?
If you find that your dog is scared of other dogs, you may wonder why. There are a few potential reasons for this.
If they’ve had a bad experience with other dogs, like fighting, this can lead them to be fearful of other dogs.
If they havent’ spent a lot of time around other dogs, particularly as a puppy, this can also be the problem. Like humans, dogs must learn how to interact with others through practice.
Some dogs are just naturally more fearful than others. If your pooch has an anxious personality, or seems easily startled, this may be a personality trait. A dog with this personality will usually be scared of several things, or act very shy in new situations.
How do I stop my dog from lying down when he sees another dog?
You want your dog to be able to make friends. You dream of watching them frolic and play with other dogs, instead of laying down around them.
The good news is, there are ways you can help your pooch get along with their canine counterparts.
Is It a Problem?
First, you’ll need to consider whether or not your dog laying down is problematic. If they are fearful, this is certainly something that needs to be fixed.
However, if they are simply initiating play or showing a reasonable amount of submission, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
The other reason you may want to change the behavior is if its affecting your dog’s activities. Does it make it difficult take them for a walk? Do they miss out on social interaction? These are signs it’s time to get your dog to stop laying down in front of other dogs.
Helping a Fearful Dog
If your pooch is scared of dogs, you have some work ahead. It’s best to begin introducing your dog to others one on one. Ask a friend with a gentle calm dog to help you.
Once they are comfortable around this dog, introduce them to another dog.
Be sure not to push your dog. If they get scared, move them away from the other dog a bit. Bring treats, and give them treats after a successful encounter.
Teach the Stand Command
The stand command can help you get your pooch moving again. Start with them in a sitting position. Put a treat in your hand. Hold it just out of their reach. They will stand to get the treat.
Once they stand up, give them the treat. You may use the word stand, or the movement of your hand to signal the command. Both is also acceptable.
Repeat this until your pooch is consistently standing when you give the command. Now, switch the treat to the other hand. Give the command. When your dog stands, give them the treat.
Once they are following the command consistently, give them the command when they are lying down. When they stand, give them a treat.
Once they are doing the command well, you can try it when your dog is around other dogs. This won’t prevent them from laying down, but it does help you get them up and going again.