If you’ve ever yelled at a dog, you’ve seen it: a pooch bowed low with big eyes. Such canine cowering, though, actually evolved as a complex survival tactic among their wolf relatives. Animal behaviorists call it an “apology bow.” A researchers (City University of New York) said that young wolves show apology bows as they begin social integration. Wolves engage in the same rough-and-tumble play as dogs do, which becomes a laboratory for learning the pack’s social rules. If a playful wolf bites too hard, the animal will be spurned by the pack for bad behavior. In order to return to the social unit the wolf must approach with an apology bow. The same goes for dogs. A dog in deep doo doo will stop panting, lower his head to avoid contact and put his tail between his legs, mimicking the actions of a lower-ranking wolf submitting to a more dominant one. So it’s more an act of submission than a direct apology or expression of guilt, but it basically boils down to this: “Can we be friends again?”

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