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Moviedust
22nd June 2008, 05:04 AM
Is the playbow a canine instinct or is it a learned behavior?

I've met a dog (a puppy mill rescue) that tries to entice dogs to play by spinning, laying flat on the ground, and barking at the other dog. When she lays down, she goes down front first, as if going into a play bow, but the hind end doesnt stay up. At first I thought the dog didnt have enough strength in her hind legs to hold a play bow, but I observed her in a bow position while eating.

I've always assumed a playbow was instinct, like other dog behaviors. But now I'm not so sure. If it is instinct, it might be a behavior reinforced by playing with littermates. If the dog is taken from its litter at an early age (or doesnt have enough room to play), then perhaps the dog doesn't learn to use this important socialization instinct.

I dunno.

Any thoughts?

hbmama
22nd June 2008, 05:39 AM
Good question. I just know that when we have doggie friends over for play dates, that is how the party starts. One or the other will do the play bow, bounce around and incite the fun until the others responds. I think maybe it is instinct in well socialized dogs who are not fearful or anxious.

*Pauline*
22nd June 2008, 08:37 AM
I think it has to be instinct, otherwise it wouldn't be an international behaviour. I just think it's her version of the play bow. And the spinning, she sounds very excited!

I find a lot of big dogs do a "down" for Dylan as a nice polite gesture so they can have a face to face hello.

I do think they grow out of the play bow, am I right?

Cathy Moon
22nd June 2008, 11:29 AM
I read somewhere that when they do a "down" for another dog it is to say, "I'm friendly; I'm not a threat; you can approach me."

In training class a labrador did that when I approached with India on lead, and our instructor said it was a kindness for a larger dog to want to appear less threatening to a smaller dog.

I've seen the behavior between two larger mixed breed dogs who didn't know each other.

Maybe a play bow is too familiar for adult dogs that are strangers to each other?

*Pauline*
22nd June 2008, 11:50 AM
I read somewhere that when they do a "down" for another dog it is to say, "I'm friendly; I'm not a threat; you can approach me."

In training class a labrador did that when I approached with India on lead, and our instructor said it was a kindness for a larger dog to want to appear less threatening to a smaller dog.

I've seen the behavior between two larger mixed breed dogs who didn't know each other.

Maybe a play bow is too familiar for adult dogs that are strangers to each other?

I know, it's lovely behaviour isn't it. I wish people were as open as dogs.

Karlin
22nd June 2008, 12:14 PM
I have seen well socialised dogs that don't really do play bows (Leo). But I have seen lots of dogs in Dog Training Ireland classes go fully down and roll over etc to elicit play, especially younger dogs. I think different dogs just play in different ways. I think play bows are an instinctive behaviour but not one that necessarily lasts as that specific behaviour as dogs get older.

misty
22nd June 2008, 05:33 PM
It's also interesting to note that an older dog, with no experience of play, can grow confident enough to learn to 'play bow'. This is the miracle we're currently experiencing with Bradley. At the moment it just happens on walks, when he wants the others to race with him, but it's so rewarding to see an ex puppy farm dog instigating play. :)

Dublin
23rd June 2008, 11:35 AM
Sparky does both play bows & the spinning & laying down in front of Cass before barking at her to make her play - if this dosn't work he then drags her out of her bed by her blanket!