Thursday, May 5, 2011

Five subtle signs of fear in dogs: Licking the air

All right folks, it's my third post writing about five subtle signs of fear in dogs commonly missed by their humans — yep, I mean you. Thankfully, humans are quite good at reading and learning, so read on and learn about that pooch of yours!

Here's links to my first two posts:
Averting eyes, shifting body
Sniffing the ground

Without further ado, today's topic is about those slobbery dog tongues:

Number four:  Licking the air.
“Oh, he wants to give me kisses,” says the person who proclaims “every-dog-loves-me” upon approaching a new dog.
The truth is, wanting to give “kisses” may be the last thing that dog has on its mind.
Licking can mean a lot of things. In most cases, it’s a display of affection. Licking the air can also signal digestive issues, like bloat. Dogs may also use that tongue hoping to get regurgitation action (yes folks, this is disgusting. Just keep reminding yourself that our dogs are descendants of wolves. Wolf pups will lick the muzzles’ of adult wolves to prompt regurgitation and this is how they first taste a solid meal). Additionally, licking can be a statement of submission as well as an attempt to calm you.
Now doesn’t that add a whole new dimension to that slobbering dog tongue?
The key here is to take in the big picture of what the dog is trying to tell you. Don’t focus in on one or two behaviors, look for a variety of behaviors to indicate the bigger picture.
If you see a dog licking the air, consider the circumstances. Did he just eat a big meal and then take a huge drink of water, and now he’s licking the air and dry heaving? You might have a case of bloat on your hands and you need to rush-rush-rush to the emergency room.
Did you just holler out something really loudly down the hallway to your husband and your dog came running, licking the air and trying to lick you? Your loud voice may have alarmed him and he’s trying to calm you down.
Are you approaching a brand new dog you’ve never met before? Look at the rest of his body language before telling yourself he wants to give you kisses. He may very well be more apt to bite you than kiss you, and in that case, you’ll want to keep your face far, far away from those pearly whites of his.

1 comment:

  1. So many people think that a dog's tongue exists only to kiss them! Thanks for this good information on other meanings of licking.