Dog stretching is an adorable action that humanizes our canine pets even more. Many dogs do it when they just wake up and do the downward and extended dog poses like pros. Unless you’re an expert canine behaviorist, many of these small signals that your dog does, like stretching, can go unnoticed or written off as normal behavior when it could indicate something completely different.
How do you interpret dog stretching, and is it a cause for concern? Let’s find out.
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Dog Stretching and What it Means
The breed, lifestyle, and even what goes on in the day can cause excessive stretching. Let’s go a little deeper to decipher the secrets behind dog stretches.
Why do dogs stretch their front legs?
A dog can stretch its front legs during the first half of a stretch, which is the same as the yoga pose “downward dog” (it’s also where it got its name from). If this is the case, you will then see your dog stretch forward into the extended dog, kick his legs out behind him slowly one at a time for a good stretch, and then stand up again.
Dog owners may also see their dogs with arms outstretched, bums in the air, tails wagging with a playful attitude. This behavior indicates a happy and excited dog who is ready to play. You may also see this in the presence of other dogs. It’s very cute and may even look like a bow, but it just means your dog is ready to play. Bowing should not be perceived as aggressive behavior.
Why do dogs stretch their back legs?
A dog stretching his back legs could be the second half of a normal stretch, which we covered above, or it could mean he’s in a forward stance and ready to take off running. Another type of dog stretch is the sploot, which is one of the most adorable positions a dog can be in if do say so ourselves.
It’s extra cute when dogs with “pantaloons”, or “fluffy butts” do it, like Corgis. The sploot is where your dog lays on their bellies flat on the ground with their two hind legs straight out behind them. Dogs like this position because it’s comfortable.
Do dogs stretch when they are in pain?
It’s possible that the excessive stretching you see your dog do is due to discomfort or pain. Dog stretches because of pain are usually accompanied by other behaviors such as hunching over, the prayer position, or wincing and whining. If you notice a lot of stretching with other signs that something may be amiss, then we suggest scheduling a vet visit.
What Does It Mean If My Dog is Stretching too Much?
A stretch or two during the day, especially when you see it after a good night’s sleep or naps, then there isn’t a cause for worry. However, if you notice your dog stretching more often than usual, it could be due to the following:
Your dog has an upset stomach
Your dog may be stretching because he has an upset stomach, abdominal pain, or canine bloat. Again, if it’s some sort of discomfort or pain, your fur baby should also be exhibiting other signs. You can check to see if your dog’s stomach is the problem by gently touching him to see how he reacts.
Your pooch is tired
Some dogs can stretch in various positions when they’re getting ready to turn in or for a quick nap. If you view stretching after a long and active day, then there is no need to worry. Some of the time, these quick stretches are also seen alongside yawns.
Why does my dog stretch so much even without exercising? If your dog is a little overweight, engaging in everyday activities that are no big deal for other dogs, such as climbing stairs, could take a lot out of your rounder pooch. If you suspect that your dog is at an unhealthy weight, we would suggest consulting with your vet or a certified pet nutritionist for advice on healthy diet options.
Not enough exercise
Conversely, your dog may also stretch if he isn’t getting enough exercise. We know it can be confusing since your dog may stretch from being too active or not at all, but the stretches mean very different things. As said, a dog who stretches after a long day is tired, but a dog who is stretching because of a lack of exercise indicates he is bored or trying to stretch out tense muscles and trying to get some movement in.
We completely understand that some days are busier than others, so it’s not always possible to take your dog for hour-long walks twice a day, but your dog will appreciate even a quick game of fetch, or a shorter walk. Getting enough exercise is a crucial element of your dog’s health, so make sure he gets his steps in!
It’s comfortable and enjoyable
Your dog could also be stretching because it just feels good! Think about it, don’t you love the feeling of a good stretch before rolling out of bed? The same can be said for your dog. You may also hear a groan or sigh of contentment when your dog lays down in his favorite position. It is also a good time to give your canine a good belly rub or rub behind the ears during one of your dog’s content stretches.
The last reason why your dog is stretching so much is one that is more concerning. Regular stomach pain or a little bit of bloating from food may cause stretches, but something more severe such as pancreatitis can also be the culprit.
Pancreatitis also causes gas buildup in your dog’s tummy and the way to relieve pressure off of the stomach is by stretching it out. The lengthening of the torso will help distribute the gas. Don’t worry, because pancreatitis has other obvious symptoms that go along with excessive stretching such as fevers, hunching over, and bloating.
What about Stretching and Yawning Not After Waking Up?
Dogs can yawn due to stress, whether it be environmental or emotional. Yawning can also be a way for your dog to relieve frustration. For example, if you and someone else are arguing, you may see your dog panting and yawning as a way to show you that the situation is causing him distress and you should deescalate right away.
The yawn and stretch that occur aside from when dogs just wake up could be an attempt to communicate their frustration and also try to gain some comfort at the same time. If it happens before playtime, you can guarantee your dog is raring to go, so get ready for the turbo acceleration or the lunge!
How to Stop My Dog From Stretching a Lot
Generally, dog stretching doesn’t need curbing because it’s normal behavior. Stretching can relieve your dog’s stress, feel comfortable, give him relief, and also communicate his feelings. We’ll go as far as to say stretching is very important for your dog’s development as it can indicate different things, so always keep an eye out.
If you know your dog is stretching due to a lack of exercise, then try to carve out some time to spend with your pooch. Play a game of fetch or tug-of-war with his favorite toy or head out for a quick walk.
If your dog is acting strangely and you suspect it could be due to abdominal pain or pancreatitis, then we would suggest scheduling an appointment with your vet as soon as possible.
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Frequently Asked Questions
What does it mean when my dog stretches in front of me?
If your dog is stretching in front of you, it could mean he wants to play and is up for a game, or it could be seen as a greeting bow where he just wants to say hello. The greeting bow can happen with other dogs as well. It’s your dog’s way of saying he’s friendly and is communicating that he wants to play or is happy to see you or the other dog.
Why does my dog keep stretching her back legs?
Your dog keeps stretching her back legs because she craves exercise, is getting ready to take off, is completing a doggy stretch, or is in the sploot position. You will know which it is by observing your dog closely. If you know she hasn’t gotten any exercise, then the reason could be because she feels bored and cooped up.
If her tail is wagging and you know she is super excited, then your dog is getting ready to play! Stretching is something dogs do because it feels comfortable, as is the sploot position, which is when they are laid out flat on their bellies with their hind legs extended straight out.
Why does my dog yawn and stretch so much?
Your dog could be yawning and stretching a lot due to his surroundings. Examine what is going on around him. Are there loud noises? Is there anything that could cause your dog to feel uneasy and stressed? If so, the yawning and stretching could be your dog’s attempt to tell you how he is feeling.
A stretching and yawning dog is very cute, but there could be other reasons besides relaxing the muscles that are causing your dog to do some canine yoga. Rest assured that most of the time it’s nothing to be concerned about, but if the stretching is accompanied by fevers, bloating, and hunching, then it could be time to pay the vet a visit.