Have you ever seen your dog bow to you? Believe it or not, this rather odd behavior is also quite common. You might call it bowing, or you may call it stretching or even playing. Most dog owners find it cute and fun, but it’s also rather perplexing.
Is your dog bowing to show that you are the alpha in the situation? Are they inviting you to play? Or are they just stretching their legs?
In the following article, we will answer all of these questions as well as some others that relate to the topic of dogs and why they bow.
Why does my dog bow to me?
Most of the time, a dog bowing is a playful gesture. It’s usually a dog’s way of saying, “Hey, come play with me!” It also might simply be your dog’s way of saying hi and welcoming you home after a long day.
It’s less likely that your dog is bowing to show the social hierarchy of your situation — or, in other words, that you are the alpha. This usually looks more like a dog rolling onto their back and exposing their belly — the most vulnerable part of their body. When a dog exposes his or her belly to you, they are saying, “I trust you, and I’m willing to expose this vulnerable part of myself to you.”
The bow is something different. It’s fun and friendly, and it’s usually used in a casual and comfortable situation.
With that said, dogs may also bow as part of their mating ritual. For instance, if they see a dog of the opposite sex that they’d like to “get to know better,” they may bow to that dog as a way of saying, “Let’s hang out. I dig you.”
What does a bowing dog look like?
Usually, you’ll see your dog bow by stretching their front legs out in front of them, opening their mouth and panting, and wagging their tail and bottom back and forth. If your dog is “bowing” but the position seems aggressive and menacing, this is not a real bow like the one we’re generally talking about in this article. That may be an aggressive stance that is not playful or friendly and should be taken very seriously and cautiously, depending on the situation.
Why does my dog bow to me when I come home?
Your dog probably bows to you when you come home from work or school because they want to say hi and greet you happily, and they’re also ready to play.
As is the case with many dogs, they are cooped up all day in your house, and they’re frankly bored. They’re excited for their owner to come back and hang out with them finally, and they want to make your first interaction fun and friendly.
What if you can’t play with your dog right away when you come home?
Many dog owners feel extremely guilty because they’re gone all day away from their dogs, and when they do come home at the end of the day, they’re tired and don’t want to play.
This is actually a serious situation that you should take some time to consider carefully. If you want a dog at home but you don’t plan on getting a babysitter for them or keeping them occupied with other pets or members of the family, it is important to then consider whether you really should have a dog. People who are extremely busy outside the home and who won’t be allowed to take their dogs with them where they go each day should always reconsider whether having a dog is a good choice for them.
In the end, it’s best to have a dog that matches your level of activity. If you are a very active person who likes to take your dogs with you on walks, runs, or even bike rides, it’s certainly a good idea to adopt a dog who can match this level of activity. On the other hand, if you don’t plan on taking your dogs many places and, perhaps, you don’t even have an area for your dogs to play in your yard either, having an active dog like a border collie or golden retriever is not a good idea. These breeds will be bored and upset most of the time — especially when they’re home alone. You won’t get many dog bows from them.
Why does my dog bow to me when I pet him?
Similar to the situation of coming home and finding your dog bowing to you, a bow from your dog when you pet them is usually a friendly gesture to say “thanks” and “this is great.”
Basically, they’re happy that they’re being petted, and they want the behavior to continue, so they’re excited. They might even want your petting session to turn into a play session. As you pet them, they may be anticipating you having a run around with them, and their bow is a way to start that conversation.
What to do about my dog bowing to me?
There’s nothing wrong with a dog bowing to you. It’s not bad in any way, and it’s actually a positive sign. It means your dog likes you, they anticipate you coming home from work or school each day, and they want to spend time with you and have fun with you.
If, for some reason, you don’t like that your dog bows to you, ask yourself why. Is it possibly because you feel guilty that you’re not spending enough time with them? Perhaps when they bow to you, you know that it’s because they want to play, but because you can hardly ever find the time to play with them, it always gives you a pang of guilt.
While this is understandable, remember that a dog who wants to play is probably leading a happy and healthy life, and if you really want to be kind, good, and friendly with your dog, you’ll take them up on their offer — even if you only end up playing with them for a few minutes.