Prayer position dog: Does my dog have a stomach ache?

Dog is in prayer position - a sign of tummy ache

The prayer position is an important part of canine communication and it is not always easy to interpret what message your four-legged friend wants to send with this gesture. This is because assuming the prayer position can mean many things, from a playful request, to simple stretching, to severe tummy ache, tummy grumbling or flatulence. We will help you to draw the right conclusion so that you can interpret your dog's taking up the prayer position in the best possible way. 

How to recognise the prayer position

A dog does the prayer position

In the prayer position, the dog stretches far forward with the torso almost resting on the ground. The front paws are stretched out and also rest on the ground. Unlike the low lying torso, the hind legs are stretched wide and steeply upwards. The hind legs are therefore fully extended. As a result of this position, the lower abdomen of the furry nose is stretched enormously. This is exactly the position that is most often (but not exclusively) adopted when the dog has a tummy ache.  

Baby pains, hard belly, trembling: When is the prayer position a pain symptom

A dog lying in the grass with a stomachache

The prayer position is not always a sign of pain or illness, but sometimes it is. In order to quickly recognise precisely these cases, we reveal symptoms that should make you sit up and take notice. 

  • Your dog has problems defecating and/or stretches particularly often before or after defecation. 
  • After defecation, your dog slides his bottom across the floor. 
  • Your dog has severe flatulence, a bloated belly and/or recurrent diarrhoea. 
  • The furry wet keeps having loud tummy rumblings and and may even be jangling with tummy aches. 
  • The four-legged friend vomits more frequently. 
  • Your furry nose has an elevated temperature or even a fever. 
  • Your dog is always panting and may foam at the mouth. 
  • Your dog suddenly has foul-smelling breath. 
  • Your four-legged friend keeps assuming the praying position, even while walking. 
  • After the prayer position, a cat hump is performed. In doing so, the dog makes its back round. 
  • Your dog is very restless for a long period of time - for no apparent reason. 
  • Your dog is shivering, although excitement or freezing are ruled out. 
  • Your dog does not eat or only eats a little. Even the favourite treat is refused. 

Dog with stomach pain: What are the dangers behind the prayer position?

If a dog repeatedly adopts the prayer position, there may be a serious illness behind it. In this case, we advise you to consult a vet as soon as possible. He will have a diagnosis ready, and with the appropriate medication, your four-legged friend will surely be back on his feet in no time. But what diseases can be behind this? Here is an overview:

Turning stomach: When there's more to stomach pain

The stomach of your four-legged friend turns around its own axis and that is really dangerous. This is because both the entrance to the stomach, i.e. the oesophagus, and the end, i.e. the small intestine, are completely blocked. Gas therefore accumulates in the stomach and cannot escape. Besides the prayer position, a hard stomach is an important sign. 

If your dog is not eating, an intestinal obstruction may be behind it


There are many reasons for an intestinal obstruction, such as a swallowed foreign body, untreated constipation or a parasite infestation. By praying, your dog is showing that he is in pain, which is quickly caused by the built-up gas. Time is the most important factor here: if your dog also has a fever or vomits repeatedly, it is best to head for the vet immediately. 

Prayer position due to poisoning

If your dog suddenly assumes the praying position very often - and in the most unusual situations, there is an acute cause behind it, such as poisoning. If there is a risk that your dog has eaten something poisonous, charcoal tablets will bind the poison and buy you time until you reach the vet.  

Intestinal colic: severe abdominal pain and bloating

Intestinal colic is characterised by severe bloating and cramps and can be caused by food intolerance, for example. Attention, fart alarm: masters and mistresses usually recognise you by recurring, bad-smelling flatulence. Intestinal colic is not necessarily dangerous in the short term. However, if they occur for a longer period of time, they should be examined and treated. 

Herniated disc: rare but a possible cause

Pain can radiate in dogs, just as it does in us bipeds. A herniated disc is usually more common in senior dogs or dogs with long backs, such as Dachshunds. It can cause such severe pain that it radiates into the abdomen. Again, the prayer position is a possible indicator. 

Pancreatitis as a cause of stomach pain

Diagnosing pancreatitis in a dog is not at all easy, as the symptoms can often be indicative of other conditions. In addition to taking up the position of prayer, these also include tiredness, vomiting, diarrhoea or a reluctance to eat. A definitive diagnosis can only be made by a vet. 

Position of prayer in dogs: then it is not dangerous


Dog stretches. Looks like he's doing a prayer pose

There are dog owners who immediately panic when the dog assumes the prayer position for the first time. Yet there are some situations in which this is completely normal. Therefore, it is always important to consider the context and stay calm. This way you can interpret your dog's communication much better than if you make him nervous by getting excited. 

Dogs also assume the prayer position when they have been lying down for a long time, for example in the morning after getting up. Our furry friend simply stretches - just as we two-legged friends do in the morning in bed by stretching our arms and legs. Some dogs repeat this procedure several times in the morning. This is perfectly normal dog yoga. 

Another situation in which the prayer position is adopted is when asked to play with conspecifics. When asked by another dog, this ritual is also quite often performed, along the lines of "Now come on, play with me!" 

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