What does this mean? Dog lying down - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 11 Old 05-31-2009, 07:20 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Lyle is very friendly to everyone he meets -- sniffing the humans and hoping for a pat, sniffing at the dogs etc . . .

But every so often when we're on a walk and he sees someone with a dog walking directly towards us he'll drop into a "down" position and just lie there. The first time we did it the owner immediately crossed to the other side of the street, and I thought maybe it was an aggressive dog and Lyle sensed it (although today we met an owner who pulled his dog to the side when Lyle approached and warned me he was aggressive, and Lyle was still all tail waggy and happy to meet him). The other two times, I stopped, and the other person approached and told me their dog was friendly. When they got to us the other dog sniffed Lyle and then Lyle stood and let the other dog sniff him, and once lick him. He seemed very alert/tense. Eventually Lyle started sniffing back and then we went our separate ways.

What does this mean? Is he scared? Is he showing submission? How does he pick which dogs to "submit" to. Should I protect him and turn back the other way?
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#2 of 11 Old 05-31-2009, 09:12 PM
 
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My puppy (8 months) does it when she wants to play. She does it to other dogs and us. For her, it is a "hey, I'm ready to play, let's go" thing. She is never aggressive, but can get too jumpy so we are trying to work with her for alternatives.
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#3 of 11 Old 05-31-2009, 09:42 PM
 
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Our dog trainer told us this was a response to perceived aggression. That is, your dog senses an aggressive vibe in this other dog, and lies down.

Now, when our dog would lie down, it meant she was ready to rumble. That didn't mean that she would attack, just that if "aggressive dog" came at her, she wasn't going to submit. IDK if it means non-submission in all dogs, though.

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#4 of 11 Old 05-31-2009, 10:48 PM
 
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What kind of lying down is it? Is he rolling and showing his tummy? That's submissive. Is his butt in the air? That's a play bow. Is he just down like you would tell him to lie down? I dunno!

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#5 of 11 Old 05-31-2009, 11:18 PM - Thread Starter
 
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It's all the way down, but not rolling over -- like if you told him to down (except that he doesn't down on command yet), chin on the pavement, butt in line with the rest of his body. I can believe that he's sensing aggression, although neither dog we've approached has been aggressive towards him.

When the dog gets to him he gets up and stands very still with his hair slightly raised and his tail up but not wagging, while they sniff him, today the dog licked at him and he kind of turned his head away but didn't move away. Does that sound like submission?

Should I assume that he's sensing aggression, and keep him away from the dogs that cause this response?

He has also shown fear around a couple dogs in the neighborhood who are behind fences and come up running, barking and lunging. In that case his response is totally different, he'll pull in the other direction and whine. Again this isn't every dog -- most dogs behind fences he'll pull towards them, and stand on the other side wagging his tail and sniffing through the slats.
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#6 of 11 Old 05-31-2009, 11:46 PM
 
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I call this the "lion in the grass" maneuver. Basically he's ready to jump up and pounce on the other dog, it's normally a playful thing.

Licking another dog's face is a submissive move, so if another dog was doing that to him it is likely he was standing there stiffly and the other dog was trying to appease and suck up to him.

One thing I would suggest is not to worry about it too much. Dogs are very good at picking up on our emotions so try not to get anxious about what he might be sensing or worry about removing him (unless it really is a dangerous situation) so that he doesn't get nervous about it. I think it's good to learn about his body language but don't stress about it, you know?
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#7 of 11 Old 06-01-2009, 12:09 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Momily View Post
It's all the way down, but not rolling over -- like if you told him to down (except that he doesn't down on command yet), chin on the pavement, butt in line with the rest of his body. I can believe that he's sensing aggression, although neither dog we've approached has been aggressive towards him.

When the dog gets to him he gets up and stands very still with his hair slightly raised and his tail up but not wagging, while they sniff him, today the dog licked at him and he kind of turned his head away but didn't move away. Does that sound like submission?

Should I assume that he's sensing aggression, and keep him away from the dogs that cause this response?
It sounds like he has a broad vocabulary of "calming signals." That is, yes, he is reading other dogs as showing dominance (not necessarily aggression,) and he is communicating to them that he comes in peace and means no harm.

I would say no, no need to keep him from dogs who elicit that response. He is handling it just fine on his own. To help him and his cause, I would be mindful of keeping a relaxed hold on the leash and positive, welcoming body language.

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#8 of 11 Old 06-18-2009, 03:53 PM
 
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Is this dog a border collie? This is something that breed sometimes does, as part of herding behavior, when they see an animal. I sometimes see them do it to other dogs.
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#9 of 11 Old 06-19-2009, 08:12 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Greenmullberry,

You know he might be part border collie. He's got a very BC face/ears, except his mouth is more smily like a Spitz (he also has a Spitz tail) and his pattern is like a BC but his colors are orange and white like a brittany, and he's got sort of a ruff around his neck like a sheltie. He's wicked smart like a herding breed, but neither hyper (BC) nor shy (Sheltie). He likes to retrieve, not so much to herd.

In other words, I have no idea what kind of dog he is -- but you're giving me more evidence for the border collie theory. Now that you say that I've seen videos of dogs doing that around sheep.
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#10 of 11 Old 06-19-2009, 08:17 PM
 
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This is a good website about dog "language" http://www.canis.no/rugaas/gallery.php Laying down can be a calming signal to other dogs.
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#11 of 11 Old 06-20-2009, 10:13 PM
 
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you know what? my dog does this too and i don't think it's a submissive thing at all, though she can be a very submissive dog.

she actually has kind of a sketchy temperament where she will be either super submissive or super dominant depending on the dog.

she usually does the lay down thing when she is feeling dominant towards another dog because when they approach she usually has her hackles up and stands very stiffly, like you mentioned. the other dogs always approach submissively, so i think maybe she only does it to dogs that she can sense will be submissive to her?

whereas if the dog is dominant she will totally curl her body and duck her head.

it sounds like the dogs have it figured out at any rate.

eh. who needs a signature?
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