Click here to learn more.
A. It sounds like your dog is displaying an appeasement gesture, called a
submissive grin, to show you and others that she’s no threat. Submissive grins are a way for a dog to show deference to another individual.
Usually submissive grins are associated with increased movement and a body posture that is lower than the dog's normal stance. There are other signals your dog likely uses, along with her submissive grin, to show deference, such as lowering her tail, lifting a paw, licking you, licking her lips and looking away or squinting her eyes.
The submissive grin is a tactic dogs use to shut off aggression from another individual, either human or canine. This behavior is commonly seen in greeting situations where the
dog is actively soliciting attention in a nonthreatening manner. Often the submissive grin invites interaction from others, but it’s also possible that your dog is trying to increase distance between herself and others if she feels threatened.
It’s likely that your dog has continued “smiling” at you and your family because it’s gotten her a lot of attention in the past. You can actually turn your dog’s smiling into a trick by clicking and treating her every time she does it and adding a word to it, such as “say cheese,” just as she starts to smile, which will encourage more of her smiling if this is a behavior you enjoy seeing.
It would be helpful to explain to visitors before they meet your beloved canine that she smiles as part of her greeting sequence but is nonthreatening. You can even channel her greeting behavior into another outlet, like a game of ball or a quick series of tricks she’s asked to do, such as sit and down, as a way to redirect her energy away from greeting mode, where she’s likely to smile, and into a different mode, like play or food acquisition.
If you doubt that your
dog is smiling as a greeting behavior to show appeasement, or if there is any possibility that there may be aggression involved in her behavior, contact your veterinarian, who may refer you to a veterinary behaviorist or a certified professional
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Thank you for subscribing to Petwire. Look for the latest newsletter each Wednesday.
Firefighters saved Ashley the Lab from a
fire in her home and resuscitated her
using a pet oxygen mask.
We asked trainer Bill Berloni how he
prepared a 6-year-old rescue pup for her
debut role as Sandy in the Annie…
Think big dogs are more aggressive? Or
that they can’t live in apartments? We’re
here to dispel these…
While it’s likely to unleash a feline frenzy,
giving your cat too much of the ‘nip is not
something you need to…
From the water-loving Portuguese Water
Dog to the fetch-obsessed Labrador
Retriever, these breeds love to have fun.
In his home country of Thailand, the intelligent and attention-loving Korat is a living symbol of luck and prosperity.
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.
Thank you for subscribing.