The submission posture stems from the ritualisation of urination stimulated by the mother. When the puppy finishes feeding, the mother rolls it over and licks it.

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The puppy’s posture then corresponds to the submission posture adopted by a subordinate dog in a fight when it wants to halt the aggression of another dog. There are, of course, other forms of submission, such as the squealing of a puppy when grasped by the scruff of the neck, which is also a line of attack in hierarchical fights, but the adoption of the submission posture is a ritual that strengthens the cohesion of a pack and enables disputes to be settled with minimal violence.


Some dogs do not learn the submission posture, which makes them dangerous. The failure to adopt the submission posture when appropriate means that the other dog is never mollified and so continues to fight. Other submission signals have been observed, including the lack of direct eye contact, a lowered tail, lying on one side with a raised hind limb and flight. Owners have to be able to recognise the preferred submission posture of their dog, because continued aggression after the dog has adopted the submission posture can lead to behavioural problems.

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Why do dogs dig?

Dogs dig for several reasons. Some dogs will dig to try to get to interesting things, such as children playing in a neighbouring yard. They can also dig to go after little burrowing animals like gophers: a trait especially true in breeds developed to hunt burrowing animals.

Digging to escape a yard, crate, or house can happen when this social animal feels isolated. Hot dogs can cool off by lying in freshly dug soil and high energy dogs use the behaviour to get rid of some of that energy.


Bonnie V. Beaver, BS, DVM, MS, DPNAP, DACVB
Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences
Texas A and M University College Station, TX (USA)

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