Click here to learn more.
Vetstreet. All rights reserved.
Vetstreet does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. See Additional Information ›
Have you ever wondered why your normally assertive dog immediately flops onto her back whenever she feels fearful or threatened?
According to board-certified veterinary behaviorist Dr. Karen Sueda, DVM, of the VCA West Los Angeles Animal Hospital, this is a classic — and normal — sign of submission or appeasement.
dog presents her belly and neck in this situation, she's expressing an ancestral trait rooted in wolf pack behavior that was used to communicate deference to other “alpha” dogs.
On a more practical note, it also helped wolves to avoid getting into a fight. Over time, nature selected appeasing wolves who were able to get out of potentially dangerous situations by peacefully persuading an
aggressor to back off.
“The trait has been maintained through evolution, as well as domestication,” Dr. Sueda explains, adding that the habit isn't necessarily a sign of weakness. It's quite the opposite, in fact, and shows that she's a good communicator capable of conveying via body language that there's no need for a tussle.
If your dog cowers all of the time, she may have a serious phobia.
It’s normal for a
dog to roll over once in a while, but if it happens
consistently in certain situations — like when you pull out the dreaded vacuum cleaner — consider consulting a trainer or a
board-certified behaviorist about steps that you can take to ease her anxiety and teach her to make positive associations with the activity or object that's triggering the fear.
The most important thing, Dr. Sueda says, is to avoid doing anything that can make the fear worse. If your dog’s anxiety is set off by something that you have done, simply walk away, and avoid touching her.
When she rolls over, her body language says, “I don’t want you to come any closer.” If you don’t give her space, you may only escalate her fearful feelings, causing her to potentially get aggressive.
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.
Star, a 20-week-old Chow Chow-Lab mix,
led Team Ruff to victory over Team Fluff
by scoring three touchdowns.
Dr. Marty Becker clears up some
common misconceptions about bad
breath, anesthesia and dental disease.
We took a look at the feline monikers that
have declined in popularity in the past 10
years — and the list may…
If you’re a fan of these furry fellows, take
our quiz and guess whether our eight
ferret “facts” are true or false.
The Boerboel, a South African Mastiff, is a strong and territorial breed who is not suited to inexperienced dog owners.
Take our breed quiz to find your next pet.
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.
Thank you for subscribing.