VCA Met Vet West Animal Hospital
Published: Jan 18, 2013

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Some dogs are more playful than others, but there is one thing that is universal among them all - the playful bow. You may recognize this behavior from your own play sessions with your canine companion, and you'll definitely see him doing it when he plays with other dogs. The pose - his front legs extended, shoulders and chest low to the ground and bottom sticking straight up in the air - is also usually accompanied by a wagging tail.

What does this pose mean?
This pose is a universal sign for "let's play" in dog language. Some people might mistake it is a sign of dog aggression, since it can also include dog barking. In a case of aggression, though, a dog might be baring his teeth with his ears back. In the playful bow position, your dog will seem happy and energetic.

The pose does not conform to any dog standards of hierarchy. In a group of dogs, the alpha or another dominant member could bow to a lower-ranking canine, or a more submissive dog could approach a more dominant dog with the play bow, according to When one dog meets another for the first time, he may bow to get a feel for the other dog's personality. If the other dog feels like accepting the invitation to play, they will likely become friends.

How should I respond?
If your dog is bowing to you during play, you can respond just as a dog would, by assuming the position yourself. You can even initiate play by plopping down into this pose. This is a perfect way to kick off a game of fetch, tug-o-war or just running together in the yard. If you and your young canine bow together during puppy training, make sure to show him the limits of such play, stopping if he bites or jumps inappropriately.



Specialty Care

Sometimes sick or injured pets need the care of a veterinary medical specialist. When that happens, VCA specialty hospitals work closely with the general practitioner veterinarians who refer cases to us in order to provide seamless veterinary care to your pet. When your pet is facing any kind of serious illness or injury, our specialty referral hospitals will provide the compassionate and expert care your beloved pet needs.

Our goal is to make sure that when you and your pet are in need that you have access to board certified specialists who are up to date on the very latest developments in their field. In our state of the art hospitals, our specialists also have access to the most sophisticated diagnostic and treatment tools and techniques from ultrasonography and endoscopy to CAT scans and even MRI.

As part of the VCA family, we have over 83 specialty hospitals across the US and Canada which provide referral specialty care, so there may be one near you. Our specialized services include: behavior, cardiology, critical care, dentistry, dermatology, integrative medicine, internal medicine, neurology, oncology, ophthalmology, radiology, rehabilitation, reproduction, and surgery.

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Emergency Care

In case of emergency during normal business hours, please call us immediately. If you have an emergency outside of our normal business hours, please contact a local emergency animal hospital.