Do dogs lick lips when happy?

Answered by Douglas Hiatt

Dogs do not typically lick their lips when they are happy. Lip licking is more commonly associated with stress, anxiety, or discomfort in dogs. It is considered an appeasement gesture, which means that dogs use this behavior to communicate their unease or to calm themselves in a potentially threatening situation.

When dogs feel stressed or uncomfortable, they may exhibit a variety of behaviors, including lip licking. This could be due to various factors such as loud noises, unfamiliar environments, new people or animals, or even certain medical conditions. It’s important to pay attention to the context in which the lip licking occurs to better understand why a dog is exhibiting this behavior.

For example, if a dog is meeting a new person and starts to lick their lips excessively, it could be a sign that they are feeling nervous or uneasy about the situation. Similarly, if a dog is in a crowded and noisy environment, they may lick their lips as a way to cope with the stress and try to calm themselves down.

I have personally witnessed lip licking in my own dog when she was exposed to a loud thunderstorm. She would lick her lips repeatedly and display other signs of anxiety, such as panting and pacing. It was clear that she was feeling stressed and uncomfortable in that situation.

It’s important to note that lip licking alone does not necessarily indicate a negative emotion or a problem. Dogs may also lick their lips as a normal part of their grooming behavior or to taste something interesting. However, when lip licking is accompanied by other stress signals like panting, yawning, pacing, or avoidance behaviors, it is more likely to be a sign of anxiety or discomfort.

If you notice your dog frequently licking their lips in certain situations, it is essential to assess the environment and try to identify any potential stressors. Providing a calm and safe space for your dog, along with positive reinforcement and gradual exposure to new experiences, can help alleviate their anxiety and reduce the need for lip licking.

Dogs do not typically lick their lips when they are happy. Lip licking is more commonly seen as an appeasement gesture associated with stress, anxiety, or discomfort. Understanding the context and recognizing other stress signals can help us better interpret our dogs’ behavior and provide them with the support they need.