Is your dog lowering her head to the ground when she sees you, and should you be concerned about that?
We will talk about various causes of this behavior and how you should react to it.
Your dog will bow her head to you for a variety of reasons, such as greeting you, expressing her submission, feeling intimidated, suffering from depression, or having an injury that needs your attention.
It’s Your Dog’s Way of Greeting You
While most dogs will greet you with a wagging tail and a happy demeanor, some will go for the greeting stretch instead.
A greeting stretch is one where the front legs are stretched out, and the hind legs are raised. It’s a calm pose, and it can indicate that your pup is relaxed and feeling comfortable with you.
The greeting stretch is a more subdued version of the wagging tail, and it can indicate that your pup feels safe and comfortable with you and is inviting you to play with her.
A well-behaved pup will often greet their owners in this pose, so don’t worry about this behavior.
She Is Exhibiting Her Submissiveness
When dogs lower their heads to the ground, they are showing submission to a dominant individual, whether it is a human or another dog.
This behavior is very common among dogs, and it can be a normal part of their social interactions.
Therefore, if your dog is lowering her head to the ground, it shows that she wants to avoid conflict and looks upon you as her Alpha.
By bowing her head, she is telling you that you are in charge, and she is willing to do whatever you want from her.
She is saying “You are the boss, and I’m going to do what you want”. It is a sign of submission.
Submissive dogs may also lower their heads to the ground in order to avoid a dog who is bigger and more dominant than them.
Dogs who are submissive show the following body language:
If your dog is calm and not aggressive, she is a submissive dog.
You can tell she’s feeling relaxed by how she acts – bowing down, lowering her head, shrinking her body, or moving her ears back.
That behavior is nothing to be concerned about.
She Is Expressing Fear Of Aggression (Feeling Intimidated)
While dogs may lower their heads to the ground because of submission, it can be a sign of intimidation.
Intimidation is usually an aggressive behavior that comes out of fear.
This means that if your dog lowers her head to the ground, it may be because she is preparing for an attack as an attempt to protect herself.
Some common signs of aggression in dogs include a fixed gaze, baring her teeth, lip licking, howling, barking, biting, cowering, posing tall, erecting ears, swaying tail stiffly from side to side while holding it high.
If your dog exhibits these signs, it should be considered as a warning sign of aggression. You should remove yourself from the situation till she has calmed down.
Find out what is triggering her aggressiveness (maybe she had been ill-treated by her previous owner and is wary of humans or overprotective of her territories, foods or toys) and work on correcting her aggressiveness.
You should make sure that you are not intimidating your dog. Instead, make sure that she sees you as her pack leader, and you can accomplish this through an obedience training program.
She Is Feeling Depressed and Wants to Be Alone
Depression often causes dogs to lower their heads to the ground. They do not want to interact with anyone or other dogs, and they don’t want to participate in any activities.
A change in your dog’s living environment or losing someone she loves and cares about can cause her to become depressed.
To help her overcome her depression, you should:
- Keep her stimulated with more physical and mental exercises.
- Let her know that you are always available to her by spending more time with her.
- Get her a dog companion.
- Provide her with a daily routine to follow. That will keep her mind occupied.
What are the signs that your dog is depressed?
Dogs also experience depression in the same way that people do.
A loss of interest in activities she used to enjoy, and changes in her eating and sleeping patterns are common symptoms of depression.
Some dogs may also display depression in the form of unusual crying or howling.
She Is Being Anxious and Expressing Her Fear
Most dogs will lower their heads when they are feeling scared, anxious, or afraid.
This is a common behavior because when dogs feel threatened or scared, they will lower their heads in order to try to make themselves “look” smaller, and less noticeable.
Dogs that are feeling scared will also lick their noses, pant, lower their ears, groom themselves and yawn.
So, when your dog lowers her head to the ground along with the above-mentioned signs, she is showing that she feels vulnerable, scared, and worried.
This is likely to happen when you are moving to a new home and your dog is uncomfortable with the new environment and easily startled by the unfamiliar scents, sight and sounds of the new surroundings.
She may be trying to figure out where she is and how she got there.
If you are feeling worried about your dog’s behavior, just give her some loving attention, pet her and reassure her that everything is okay. She will soon learn that the new surroundings are not as frightening as she first thought.
Also, to get your dog used to the sights, sounds and smells of the new place, start playing with her in these environments a few times a day. This will facilitate her adjustment to the new surroundings.
Head Injury Causing Your Dog to Lower Her Head
A dog who is injured may lower her head to the ground, in order to rest and be safe. This is often accompanied by occasionally staring at you and her glance may appear vacant-eyed or grimaced.
Hurting dogs may also whine, whimper, yell, growl, snarl, or even howl to convey their pain.
So, if your dog is vocalizing more than usual, check with your veterinarian.
She may have a brain injury or experiencing some other type of discomfort. Perform a visual inspection on her head, ears and body to check for any physical injury or infection.
If your dog is limping and prefers to be laid down and is not willing to move around, she could be suffering from joint related discomfort.
As for the brain injury, lookout for the following symptoms:
- Lethargic behavior.
- Lack of awareness.
- An appearance of confusion.
- The inability to move limbs.
- Large or abnormal pupils.
- Visual impairment.
- Manic behavior such as pacing, head pressing, or circling.
In either case, it’s important that you find out what’s wrong.
You should take her to a veterinarian as soon as possible. The vet will be able to examine your dog and help you figure out what’s wrong.