If you are offering your dog a treat, or preparing his food in front of him, his tongue will certainly go into over drive. Licking his lips and salivating at the provocation of food was of course behind the famous Pavalov experiment.
But what if your dog is licking his lips and nose and there is no food in sight, and it is not meal time either?
Well the fact is, lip licking is thought to be another form of dog talk.
The lip lick as observed and researched by Turid Rugaas, a well known dog trainer from Norway, has deduced it to be a calming signal.
A closer Look At The Calm Lip Lick
As with all dog signals there are subtle differences in the signals that can be communicated with each body part or gesture.
The first type of lick we are discussing here, should not be confused with the self bathing lick, or the affectionate licking your dog will demonstrate when happy to be with someone.
The lick that your dog will have when he is relaxed will be less exaggerated. It will be a quick yet subtle flick of the tongue, normally across the lips and in some instances upwards against their snout.
He may do this when sitting comfortably on his bed, or in response to a calming petting session. The fact is your dog is neither over excited or stressed, the simple ‘lip lick’ is a sign of satisfied comfort.
When a dog is excited they will lick more rapidly, the tongue flicking upwards across the whole nose. They will often demonstrate this in response to your arrival home, or at the sight of the leash. Nothing excites a dog more than the prospect of a walk.
it may also be accompanied with the licking of you. By all accounts your dogs tongue is going into over drive.
Again, the licking is a positive signal provoked by a feeling of excitement and well-being.
Self Cleaning Licking
This of course is self evident. When your dog is curled up licking his belly, butt and balls (and any other area the canine is lucky enough to reach with their tongue) he is trying to clean himself.
He is also comfortable and relaxed as the act in itself means the dog is off guard and not concerned or alert to their current surroundings.
Licking can also be a submissive behavior. If a dog wishes to appease a bigger or more dominant dog, they may resort to licking them in an attempting to demonstrate their submissiveness. This will also help reduce potential conflict.
Your dog may also attempt to lick your face when they are fearful or in an attempt to calm you down if they are being scolded.
Finally, some dogs will lick their surroundings to get a better smell, or will lick to get more information about something they’ve smelled. Your dog may also lick you when you return, one as a greeting to you, and two to get a sense of where you have been if a certain smell resonates and they wish to know more.