Why Does My Dog Bow?

If you’ve got a happy or playful dog, you’ve probably seen her bow. She looks at you, stretches out her front paws, and dips her chest to the ground while leaving her rear in the air (often, with a wagging tail!).

The adorable gesture even has a yoga pose named after it: “Downward Dog”!

Photo courtesy of Karen Harris

But why does your dog bow? If you think about it, you’ve probably seen your pup do this while she was looking at you, and when she’s happy. That’s because this behavior is either a sign of greeting or one that says, “Hey, I’m ready to play!” Chances are, you won’t see a scared or unhappy dog making this posture.

According to Rover, the dog bow can be sign of greeting. Maybe you’ve noticed that whenever you come home or get out of bed, she’ll run up to you, then bend low. She’s not just stretching her legs after a nap, she’s saying “Hello, I’m happy to see you”! What’s even sweeter is that this show of affection isn’t just for anyone – it’s reserved for those she loves the most.

Another reason your pup bows is to say, “Let’s play!” You may notice that she does this when she’s full of energy, perhaps even with a toy in her mouth, as if she’s challenging you to a chase. It may even be accompanied by barks, play rumbles, and of course, that wagging tail!

Dogs also bow to other dogs as an invitation to engage in play, showing that their intentions are all fun and games. Rover suggests that if you begin to get concerned that your pup and her furry friend are playing too rough, look for “play bows” as a sign that they’re both enjoying the romp.

If your dog bows to you, take it as a huge compliment. It means she feels safe, she’s happy to see you, and she’s ready for some affection or a fun game!

(h/t: Rover)