3 Reasons Why Dogs Stretch When They See You

Dogs are full of interesting behaviors, one of which is to start stretching the moment they see you. The stretching action could be explained by a number of reasons. Here are the most common.

Your Dog is Giving You the Play Bow

You likely witnessed the bow behavior many times if you have been around dogs for some time. The play bow occurs when a dog stretches their front legs forward and lean down on their elbows. This is typically seen as an invitation to play. Since this is a positive behavior, the dog might also accompany the stretching with a happy grin or a playful bark.

When a dog gives you a play bow, be sure to treat him with some fun interactions, even if it just for a minute or two. You want to encourage your dog to be happy and maintain a positive well-being. Some dog owners may even return the bow with a play bow of their own!

Your Dog is Going Through a Morning Stretch

Is the stretching one of the first things you see from your dog in the morning? There’s also a likelihood that he is simply going through some morning stretches. Your dog may have curled up for some time while he was asleep so a stretch simply offers him a relaxing way to get ready for the day.

A dog’s morning stretch can be pretty fun to watch. They may extend out their rear legs and give their body a good shake. There’s also a likelihood that they may do a yawn or two.

Your Dog is Greeting You

If it’s not any of the above then the dog might just be giving you the greeting stretch. It’s similar to the play bow except their elbows don’t touch the floor and the front legs are lined up together. The dog’s ear may also be quite relaxed during a greeting stretch.

As you can see, none of these reasons point to anything that may concern a dog’s health. The only time when a visit to the vet may be warranted would be if you notice some strange symptoms, such as if your dog winces in pain as he stretches.

Stories from Dog Owners

Here are some relatable experiences that other dog owners have shared regarding this cute stretching behavior. It’s not just your dog that does it!

Story #1 – Bows When I Come Home

I have a very peculiar but adorable dog that stretches as soon as I get home from work. I read that dogs may stretch when they are excited (which is nice). I just want to double-check that my dog isn’t stretching because of something negative.

Story #2 – Dog Stretches on Me

My dog puts her head down and stretches her back when she greets me from time to time. I thought this happened when she was waking up from a nap but it happens on other occasions. What is my dog trying to communicate to me? Does she want to play? Or does she like hearing me say things like OH BIG STRETCH!

Story #3 – Dog in a Praying Position

From time to time, I will see my dog stretching (almost like a praying position) whenever he sees me. He does this more often right after getting up from sleep. Is he just stretching his body out or does this mean something else?

Disclaimer: The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinarian advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a veterinarian when in doubt.


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