My German Shepherd in particular stretches quite frequently; I get a lot of people asking my why she does this so thought I would explain the reasons behind why dogs stretch. They stretch in different ways, for example, some put their heads down with their bottoms in their air and stretch our their legs really far in front of them, whilst others (like GSD, Kimba) stretch their back legs out far behind them whilst holding their head high.
Below I have listed a few reasons behind why dogs stretch. These are excluding stretches that may be caused by an injury, pain or is a sign of discomfort. There are usually other symptoms displayed should this be the case. Always check with your vet should you be worried about any behaviours that your dog may be displaying.
The ‘Hello!/Greeting’ Stretch – You may notice your dog stretches when they see you in the morning or when you come home. My GSD does this with a wagging tail, relaxed ears and smiley/squinting eyes and it is said that this is a sign that they are comfortable/happy around you. It is rare if at all that dogs will do this around strangers, it is most commonly a behaviour only displayed when people they know are present.
The ‘Wanna Play?’ Stretch – The other stretch I commonly see whilst caring for dogs is when they stretch around one another, inviting or initiating play. They may do it close by the particular dog they wish to play with or around a group of dogs to see which one will engage.
The ‘Relax’ Stretch – I’ve observed Kimba does this particular behaviour around nervous/insecure dogs; the way she does it suggests to me it’s her way of calming them, trying to make them feel comfortable and showing them an alternate way to be. It’s almost as if she is telling them to relax, showing that she is no threat. This particular scenario usually always ends with the dogs playing together and finishing the interaction on a positive, happy note.
The ‘I’m Just Stretching!’ Stretch – Obviously there is not always a meaning behind a stretch other than they simply need to do it! They may have been laying down or was in a certain position for a while so feel the need to stretch themselves out. I know it is the first thing I need to do in the morning, so they may feel the same way too!
Please note: I will alternate between using ‘she’ and ‘he’ when talking about dogs throughout my blog posts.
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