It's totally normal behaviour to see your pup salivating and licking their lips whenever you are going to give them a treat, or when they can smell some yummy food sitting on the table.
You know this is simply because they are drooling over food and want to eat it.
However, how about when there is no food to be seen? Does this mean they are hungry, thirsty or sick?
What does lip licking mean? Discover what it really means when your dog is licking their lips.
What This Means
When a dog licks their lips when there is no food present, they are usually trying to send a message of how they are feeling. The following are potential causes of why your dog may be licking their lips.
Feeling Stressed Or Threatened
A dog will lick their lips if they are uncomfortable with a stressed about a situation where they may feel threatened. They will lick their lips to show another person or animal that they may see as a threat to ward off aggression.
If your dog licks their lips while you are yelling at them, this is their first signal to you that they want you to stop your aggressive behaviour. If this behaviour continues and your dogs attempts to lick their lips don’t stop you from yelling at them, they may become more aggressive or defensive in the future.
So, if you see your dog licking their lips, it is best to stop any aggressive behaviour toward them and let them have some space to get comfortable again.
Oh No, I'm In Trouble!
Another example of this may be when a dog has been disciplined for doing something wrong, and in return licks their lips at their owner because they see them as a threat. Their owner may be yelling at them, so the dog will lick their lips to try and reconcile and make peace.
While lip licking is considered a submissive gesture that is meant to prevent aggression from escalating, it can still be a sign that a dog is feeling stressed or uncomfortable with a situation.
If your dog is licking their lips due to a situation that makes them nervous (like the vet or in the car) it is best to try to redirect them positively. You could ask them to perform and trick and reward them. Avoid comforting them in these situations as it may reinforce their anxiety or fear.
Feeling Confused Or Frustrated
Your dog may also be licking their lips when they are confused or frustrated. Many owners will witness this when they are trying to teach their dog a trick, as the dog will be having trouble understanding what is being taught may get frustrated.
If you are trying to train your dog to do something, and they are licking their lips due to confusion, you should try to stay positive and end quickly. Ask your dog to do something they already know how to do to make them feel more comfortable. After that, try to break down the actions into smaller segments to make it easier for your dog to understand.
Another reason a dog may be licking their lips is if they have a health-related issue. Unlike the other types of lip-licking, this type of lip licking will appear excessive and agitated in nature, which could mean that they may have pain in their mouth, nausea, or a dental disease. Look for other signs of illness associated with the excessive licking if you are worried.
If your dog is exhibiting and excessive licking behaviour when there is no food or clear threat around, you should try to assess why. There may be something in their environment that is stressing them out, or they could have a health problem. Look for other signs of discomfort or illness and if you are still unsure, it is a good idea to make an appointment with your local vet so they can help your dog.