August 06, 2002

Dumb Animals: Certain Pet

Dumb Animals: Certain Pet Owners

Our three-year-old Black Lab, Buster, jumps up out of a dead sleep whenever he hears me grab the keys, sit down on the bed to put on my pants or shoes, or sees me put on my glasses or cap... all signals that 'we' are going outside.

His response is to run right to my feet, and do this strange little dance where he appears to be stretching and yawning, with his front paws on the floor, rump up in the air, and making a silly grin with an exasperated YIP at the end that says "hurry up". What a peculiar and silly thing for a dog to do, I think.

Then I happened to read an essay in Southern Living this morning that mentioned new dogs meeting each other, offering their 'play bows' to each other. Say what? Never heard that term before. Here is what I learned:

[...] the most universally recognisable signal that a dog 'wants to play' is the Play Bow in which the animal gives a kind of highly ritualised stretch which communicates a relaxed state. The display may be coupled with incomplete forward and backward leaps, i.e. approach/withdrawal (another example of mixed movements). The 'mood' is enhanced by use of another universal signal, the open-mouth 'play face' and possibly some vocalisations (play panting or barking).

Seems Buster understands my behavior a lot better than I have understood his. Does your Black Lab or other pup show some variation of the 'play bow'? Enlighten me, soon. Buster is losing patience.

Posted by fred1st at August 6, 2002 07:39 AM
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