How Dogs Show They Were “Just Kidding”
Most of us have come home to an excited dog, happy to see us, who offers multiple “play bows.” With forelegs extended, tail wagging, and butt in the air it seems to be an invitation to “come play.” One can also initiate this oneself by mimicking our dogs. My dogs love it when I do this, primarily, I suspect, because I only do this when I am in a really good, energetic, and playful mood. It is a pretty effective way to get a dog to play, if one is willing and able to get on all fours and wag your tail.
Interestingly, when dogs are playing they use play bows in another way as well. Not only can it mean “Come on, let’s play,” it can also mean “hey, if I get rough or got rough, it was all in good fun. No hard feelings, right?”
Scientists have concluded this after observing many many dogs playing. They found that either immediately before a bite or immediately after a bite, a bow was offered nearly 75% of the time.
So, how do you initiate play with your dog? What works best? And what have you tried that doesn’t work? Do you play “Keep Away” or “Chase?” Has your dog play bowed to you?
Adult humans really don’t play very often. Does playing with your dog make YOU feel better?
Here is a great video that captures many archetypal play postures.