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submissive dog, like the fearful dog, will try to appear smaller, but
will rarely raise his hackles. The submissive dog will either scoot
along the ground in a sit position to get closer to the dominant entity
or roll over on the ground to expose his belly and genitals, displaying
vulnerability to the aggressor. The dog may even urinate during this
The head of a submissive dog is held in a tipped position and
his tongue will dart in and out as he tries very hard to get close to
lick the dominant entity's mouth and face area for appeasement. The
same licking gesture is observed when a pup approaches his dam.
submissive dog will also lean on the dominant creature, probably as a
defense from attack. If the submissive animal leans on the dominant
animal, the aggressor has difficulty reaching crucial body parts during
A good analogy to this concept may be the technique used to avoid
injury when a horse kicks. The person who steps closer as the horse
kicks will usually suffer less bodily damage than the person who is
farther away and receives the full force of the strike. The submissive
dog will not initiate eye contact and tries very hard to avoid any
visual contact. He will even go so far as to turn his head to avoid
meeting the eyes of an opponent.
Do not mistake the head turning as
inattention to the body language of the dominant adversary, however.
The submissive dog always watches body language to determine protocol
in each social situation.
The submissive dog will expose his teeth in what can be mistakenly
interpreted as snarling. The difference between a submissive show of
teeth and an aggressive one is the position of the head and the absence
of growling. The submissive dog approaches with teeth exposed and head
in a lowered, tipped position.
The display of teeth in the submissive
dog has been termed smiling, and as a rule, the submissive dog does not
growl or make any aggressive sounds when approaching.
Behaviorists speculate that the submissive animal exposes his teeth to
display his strength or lack thereof. The theory suggests that an
adversary gains a serious advantage in battle if the opponent reveals
his defensive strength; therefore, the submissive dog is attempting to
ward off an attack by showing the perceived adversary the lack of
threat by revealing the size of his teeth.
In addition, the posture of
his head and body, along with the showing of teeth, communicates the
infantile greeting gesture. The body language of a submissive dog does
not always ward off attack.
Fearful, aggressive, and submissive behaviors can sometimes be
confused. The dog owner must make a distinction between these emotions
to properly interact with the dog. Should you mistake submissive
behavior for aggression and correct the dog, the submissive behavior
will only become more intense.
Distinguishing between these behaviors
may be quite difficult. Not all submissive dogs will display the entire
array of classical submissive behaviors.
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The Submissive Dog