The Play Bow

Play Bow. Dogs love to play and they have a wonderful way of asking others if they would like to play called a "play bow." How do Animal Behaviorists describe a "play bow??” When a dog once to play with another dog or a human he approached then bows down to the other dog or human with the front half of his body. (Dogs typically approach new dogs at their sides rather than head on so, if they bow head on to another dog or to a human the bow makes the approach nonaggressive.)
In a play bow, a dog stretches out the front of his body and his front leg go out and forward and flat to the ground, typically up to the dogs “elbows” Lowering the front of his body shows is a submissive gesture. Most dogs leave their hindquarters, (rear ends) up and give a relaxed mouth smile as they “play bow.” They may even wag their tales. All these behaviors combine into to “I am up for fun.” “Let’s play” Sometimes it is a request to “Play war” or “Play wrestle.” Remember the lowered body says it is play not real battle. The dog says “I won’t really hurt you. “I up for fun and I am not going to attack.” In a "play bow”, the dog stretches the front of his body out and down and places his paws our flat and relaxed. Sometimes a dog will actually come up to a dog or human and bow and pat his paws on the ground in an exuberant movement and then step back or look towards the spot in which they want to play or the toy they want you to play with them. Human pet parents can respond their dogs play blow and bound with their dogs by getting down on the ground and imitating the play bow with the front of your body down and patting your hands on the floor a few times. You can even associate with a word like "Play" as you pat so your dog can learn the word play. I both initiate play with my dog Bo by patting my easily flat on the floor or patting them down in front of me on the coffee table. If my dog Bo the wonder dog initiates play with me with a play bow, I say the word "play" and we begin to play.
Watch dogs in a dog park go up to other dogs and give them the play bow and their new friends respond with a play bow and then watch them run off together it is wonderful.

As the national spokesperson for Pup-Peroni, I am studying the similarities and differences between human body language and dog behavior.

One of the wasy you can learn to read your dogs mood is by noticing how he looks when he is happy and playing. Patti Wood, MA, Certified Speaking Professional
The Body Language Expert
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