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Self Handicapping In Dogs

The self-handicapping behavior pattern in dogs involves a dog purposely altering his own behavior so to appear less intimidating to other dogs.

Examples of this behavior include rolling over and lying down. Although this behavior pattern is commonly seen in social settings, it is most pronounced during playtime.

 When playing, dogs may use elements of other serious behavior contexts to play, including hunting, chasing, snapping, and biting. 

To prevent intimidating smaller or younger play partners, some dogs will "self handicap," meaning that they will inhibit themselves and adjust their play styles when they sense that a playmate is disadvantaged in some way.