What you're describing is probably a happy to see you, behavior. Generally anything close to this description is considered a play bow. Turid Rugaas coined the term calming signals of which this is one example.Rugaas has said that dogs purposely use “calming signals” to calm another dog or the other being with whom they are interacting. Many ethologists differ with her in that she says these actions are deliberate on the dog's part. Today ethologists think these "calming signals" are inate , hardwired behaviors and much more complicated. Either way the dog can use it to diffuse tension or simply as a greeting bow. A greeting bow is usually with familiar persons or dogs and will quite often have the dog stretch further forward with its front legs than when it's used in an appeasement situation. This is a very interesting area that is currently being researched. Turid is being challenged in her statements as far as these calming signals being deliberate. They likely have more to do with the acting dog's own state of mind to affect the behavior of the other dog or human for the purpose of appeasement rather than a deliberate intent to change the state of mind of the other dog or person. It's a behavior that many
people put on cue as it truly is a friendly thing. Early morning greetings or coming home greetings are a good time to have your clicker handy. lol
Mikey does this and I just assumed he was stretching (which sometimes I'm sure he is, especially in the morning) but now that I read this Dave, I know there's more to it because just today he met a dog on our walk who was friendly but a little leery of Mikey. Mikey's still a pup and not the calmest of dogs
anyway, Mikey wanted the new dog to play so bad but the dog was, like I said, leery and nervous. Mikey tried everyway he could to get the dog to play and relax then finally he did the streching or bowing thing (whatever you want to call it) and I swear he was trying to tell him "it's ok, be calm, see me, I'm calm, we can play" While he was bowing, the other dog calmed down
so, of course, Mikey right away got up and wanted to play - exubriently and the other dog was like - ummmm, I don't think so. He snapped, just a little, and Mikey was like, oh brother, ok and bowed again. It was really cute.