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D2003-37

Dear Daisy Dog

When our collie Lad greets us, he retracts his lips and bares his teeth. His head is usually down, and his tail is wagging.
He’s never aggressive, but it certainly looks like he is snarling – and it scares the kids’ friends. What do you make of this?

Daisy Responds

Lad is grinning at you!

Behaviorists call this a submissive grin, because it’s a sign of deference. This greeting behavior signals friendship, not aggression.

My brother Jack, a standard poodle, grins at people he loves. But after he greets them, he behaves rudely by barking and burying his long muzzle between their legs, so no one’s perfect.

Grinning seems to be inherited, because it runs in some lines of dogs. Interestingly, dogs grin at humans, but usually not at other dogs.

Explain to your children’s friends that Lad grins at them because he has come to know them and like them. Suggest that they smile right back!

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