Many of you know that we use our Facebook and Twitter accounts to post a lot of photos of our clients and their dogs. It takes a keen eye to notice, but you may have seen several of the dogs in our photos were licking their lips (be sure to explore the slide show above to see multiple examples of what we are referring to).
We have mentioned several times that dogs communicate and respond to verbal and visual cues so this visual communication must mean something, right? Does anyone know why dogs lick their lips and what it means?
Contrary to what many internet articles may tell you, lip licking in dogs has nothing to do with hunger, a dry nose, and it’s not a sign of a mild seizure. But instead, lip licking in dogs is a calming signal that is often referred to as an appeasement gesture. Similar to submissive grinning, lip licking is meant to prevent an uncomfortable or stressful situation from escalating into anything resembling a confrontation. Dogs do it with each other all the time and yes, they do it with us too.
So we just stated that dogs lick their lips when they’re stressed or uncomfortable, so what is so stressful about getting your picture taken? We commonly use our iPhones to take these pictures and that may mean putting the camera very close to the dog’s personal space to get a close, detailed shot of a dog’s face. Yes, invading a dog’s personal space (simply for the intention of snapping a photo) can be considered a stressful situation for some dogs.
So to reduce it down to a very simple explanation, they’re basically saying, “I’m a bit uncomfortable with you being there but I am not going to harm you.” It’s amazing how much more you can learn from your dogs when you know what you’re looking at; aren’t dogs cool?!
Do you have a picture of your dog licking their lips? If so, please feel free to share it by posting to our facebook wall.