July 09, 2020

That ‘big stretch’ probably doesn’t mean what you think

That ‘big stretch’ probably doesn’t mean what you think
Dr. Chris Brown

Some dogs can stretch up more than an Olympic sprinter. But all those yoga moves often have a secret meeting...

You see, rather than being about loosening up their muscles, it’s more about freeing up their mind. In the same way we chew our fingernails or play with our hair when we’re nervous or unsure of our next move, dogs stretch as a way of distracting away from their indecision. It’s basically a move that buys them time before they have to act.

In fact, stretching is actually one of the most common ‘displacement’ behaviours used by dogs. Yawning and licking are also frequent ‘distractors’. So essentially if you see a stretch that doesn’t occur soon after they’ve woken up and isn’t at the start of a play session, have a think about what they might be worried about. You may need to hold their paw through the process...

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