You may have mistaken this common dog trait for something else entirely.
By Catalina Barrios
By many, people consider their dogs as their best friends, their most loyal companions. I love my dog and spending time with her is what makes up many of my happiest memories. I can proudly say she knows me very well. She knows when I am happy, sad, or when I had a stressful day. It is unbelievable how much your dog can get to know you and understand you, A LOT!
According to a recent study from animal behavior researchers in United Kingdom and Brazil, dogs can interpret our body language and were documented licking their lips when they see an angry human face. When you are sad, your furry friend will cuddle with you. Your dog will make a guilty face, tilt his head, when he feels something he has done is bothering you and he’ll play with you when you are in a good mood. With these behavioral reactions, your dog is reading your body language and responding to it accordingly.
The study by Dr. Natalia Albuquerque says that dogs can read angry human faces and mouth-lick when they do so. Dr. Albuquerque and her colleagues from the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil and the University of Lincoln in UK analyzed the response of 17 adult family dogs when exposed simultaneously to two facial expressions (one positive and one negative from the same individual), which was either a human or canine and audio cues. Researchers discovered that when shown an angry human face, dogs almost always licked their chops.
Dr. Albuquerque said:
“Mouth-licking was triggered by visual cues only (facial expressions). There was also a species effect, with dogs mouth-licking more often when looking at humans than at other dogs. Most importantly, the findings indicate that this behavior is linked to the animals’ perception of negative emotions.”
Researchers say this behavior is linked to the animals’ perception of negative emotions, which, according to them, came from domestication. The study goes on to say, dogs only had a mouth lick reaction when they saw an angry human face and did not respond similarly to canine faces. Professor Daniel Mills of the School of Life Sciences at the University of Lincoln and co-author of the study said that the research results indicate dogs may be using mouth licking to facilitate communication between dogs and humans.
Studies like this one help us have a better understanding of our dogs’ emotions. As they get to know us, we definitely get to know them very well too.
So next time you’re angry at the pizza guy for getting your order wrong, take a peep over at your pup! He might not be licking his chops because he wants a slice. He just might be as upset about the anchovies instead of pepperoni as you are!