The Greeting Stretch

When a dog wakes up from a sleep, or simply gets up after lying down for a while and stretches before coming to greet you and say hello, the common misconception is that they are simply stretching their muscles after a long period of rest. Although there are accasions when this might be the case, it is now believed that this behaviour actually forms part of a dogs greeting behaviour, and has even been given a name, the ‘Greeting Stretch‘.

When you come home or wake up in the morning and your dog greets you with a stretch, their not simply waking up from a nap or doing yoga, their saying hello. A dog will only do this with people they are comfortable with. You will not see a dog greet a stranger in this manner. There is also a version of this greeting where the dog leans forward and stretches their rear legs out behind them.

The ‘Wake Up Stretch’ is actually very different to the ‘Greeting Stretch’ that an owner sometimes sees when they arrive home. In the ‘Greetings Stretch‘, you will see a relaxed ear carriage and squinty eyes. Your dog will  have a liquid, languid look about them.

The four main signs seen are: lowered forequarters, raised hindquarters, nose pointed towards you and elbows off the ground.

The ‘Greeting Stretch’ can sometimes be in the form of a front stretch, where the dog lowers their elbows and raises their hind in the air, and then can move into a rear stretch (or vice versa). Your furry friend may also yawn while stretching, if your lucky.

In a way, it is quite similar body language to the ‘Play Bow’, but you don’t get the feeling that your dog is about to pounce, and there is no ‘coiled spring’ look about them either. Also, with the ‘Play Bow’, you will see a more extreme lowering of the body, and the ears are more erect rather than floppy.

So, do count yourself very lucky if your dog does greet you in this manner – they won’t perform the ‘Greeting Stretch’ to just anyone you know.