The Clever Canine, LLC                Intelligent, gentle dog training.
Dog Language Quiz -- How Fluent Are You?

The dogs in these photos are all flicking their tongues.  One might assume they are licking their lips in anticipation of eating something tasty.   More often however, a tongue flick means something very different.  Do you know what that is?  Answer below.






ANSWER:  A tongue flick, often accompanied by gentle lip smacking, is an appeasement or pacifying gesture.  It is also referred to as a "calming signal", a behavior offered in an effort to reduce the stress of a given situation.  You may have noticed your dog flicking his tongue when you hug him (something most dogs actually don't like), call him to you, or speak angrily at him.  Many dogs lick/smack their lips gently while being petted, particularly if our faces are close to theirs.  This is a polite way for your dog to say, "I'm not a threat, even though you are in my space." 

The orange husky-mix on the right is shy and reserved Lila, who despite living in a household of dogs who work in front of a camera, hated having her picture taken.  Of the many shots I took of her, this is the only one where she actually looked at the "unblinking eye" of the camera.  No surprise that she offered a tongue flick at the same moment, indicating her discomfort!

Want to learn more?  Read On Talking Terms with Dogs: Calming Signals, by Turid Rugaas.  



Website Builder