Dog Stretching: Why Dogs Always Stretch and When to Be Concerned
Several reasons abound as to why our canine companions love to stretch; the most common among them is the mere fact that your furbaby wants to play. Dog stretching is comparable to when a football player is getting ready to enter the field of play; they must stretch themselves to ready their muscles for the energy exerting game. The same stretching is evident within the pack of wolves that are always known to stretch prior to executing some survival physical activities like hunting, or when their territory is threatened, and it is time to defend their own.
While domesticated dogs of today no longer need to hunt and fight for survival in the wild, that deep, rooted, innate impulse to stretch is still in each and every one of them. Just like in humans, stretching functions to warm up the muscles as well as get the blood flowing. It is also known to release some toxins. All these contribute to preparing a pup for an arduous physical activity. Continue reading to find out why dogs always stretch and when to be concerned.
Why do Dogs Stretch?
‘’My dog stretches a lot: is it harmful?’’ This is a common complaint from pet parents whose dog keeps stretching. However, there is no cause for alarm with a dog that loves to stretch since stretching is known to be a harmless act. Dogs also have the need to activate their body muscles, just in the same way as humans. However, we have seen a few instances where stretching is associated with some specific feelings or issues.
While many dog adopters don’t spare some thought for this type of action, it is necessary to have a good understanding of the meanings of these movements. The possible reasons why dogs stretch are listed below;
Body stretching in the canine population is a natural instinct that has been part of dogs before the advent of domestication. When your pooch wakes up from sleep, its first action is to instantly display a full-body lunge. What this means is that the dog is getting ready for the next action.
Before domestication, when it was compulsory for dogs to fight and hunt for their survival in the great outdoors, they had to keep their bodies in tip-top shape. The dog’s fo the olden days were well aware that there will be dire consequences to pay if they are not properly prepared for some intense physical activity. In those pre-domestic times, failing to nab a prey, or losing a fight would normally raise the chances of death, and this concerns the entire pack. Thus, wild dogs needed that regular stretching activity to activate their blood flow, warming up the muscles in the process – same as athletes exercising to warm up their bodies before a major run.
A dog that constantly engages in stretching will always come out tops with performance. The stretching functions to lengthen and contract the muscles, thereby reducing the chances of sustaining an injury. It is true that domesticated canines no longer have the need to fight for their survival, but that mentality still lives in them. What’s more, dogs tend to stretch after being sedentary for long; you may even notice them doing it while you are getting their gear ready for a walk.
Stretching is a form of social interaction among canines; they use bodily movement in communicating with their human families, as well as other dogs in the vicinity. We have observed several dogs whose normal way of greeting their parents is by extending their front limbs with the butts high up in the air. Many adopters take the action to mean that their furbaby is just waking up from sleep.
Expert opinion points to the fact that this particular form of stretching is a common way of greeting among the canine population. Dogs don’t just stretch; the action is usually accompanied by other forms of body movement like wagging tail, relaxed ears, and energetic eyes. Basically, your fur buddy is trying to convey a message that it holds you in high esteem, and wants to play. This behavior can also be observed among friendly dogs and you might also witness your dog perform a stretch upon meeting another canine it neither wants to submit to nor dominate – this is targeted at showing respect alongside a wiliness to play.
Aggression or Mating
While we see the greeting stretch as a friendly action, there are other forms of stretching that can lead to a completely different activity. Some stretching actions are targeted at expressing canine sexual interest – this is evident when your male pup comes around a female dog in heat.
On the other hand, the action may mean that your pooch is all out for an attack. At the initial stage of this article, we stated that dogs leverage stretching to prepare themselves for action – that is also applicable to attacks and lunges. Thus, the stretching movement may also be a sign of aggression.
When to be Concerned
When your furbaby appears to be having some difficulties with the stretching movements, the discomfort may be coming from a medical condition.
Several health problems can afflict dogs that include those that sufferer from tendonitis, arthritis, or some other joint problems that may get temporary relief from stretching. Also. some pups use the movement in stretching out their backs – this may be an indication of spinal problems.
Additionally, dogs that suffer pancreatitis are known to get some relief by stretching out their stomachs – digestive enzymes are known to cause some tissue damages, which puts a lot of pressure on the other organs of the body. If excessive stretching is accompanied by fever and vomiting, the attention of the vet will be needed immediately.
Many dog parents cannot just separate splooting from stretching, and in actual fact, we see splooting as just another stretch. Splooting entails, a dog placing their tummy on the floor, stretching their hind-limbs back to the rear of their body. The fore-limbs may be stretched back too, which makes it appear as if your pooch is sliding forward. This action comes with various benefits that include;
- Muscle relation – Splooting functions to stretch out the canine’s hip, providing better mobility during physical exercise.
- It is very relaxing – all the pup’s limbs get stretched out as well as comfortable. Several dogs have been known to doze off when they stay long in that position.
- Dogs use splooting to cool down, especially when they are on a tiled surface – this way, they can easily expose their tummy to the tiled floor with a very cool temperature.