Your dog uses its tongue to show stress, here's what to look out for
This lesson will teach you the meaning behind a nose lick or tongue flick
Figuring out what dogs are trying to communicate to us mere humans is no easy task but a canine behavior specialist reckons she's got it licked!
Taking to Instagram to divulge her findings, Dani Stephens-Lewis says you simply need to pay special attention to a dog's tongue and two particular moves. “The nose lick or tongue flick,” she writes, “A really important communication signal to learn.”
Posting under the name agenticpaws, Dr Stephens-Lewis has shared a super short demonstration video which first shows her dog, Mr Bungle, looking towards the camera and licking his nose before lying down. This, the specialist says, is a signal that a pup might need space.
Moments later, the Saint Bernard is videoed being fed the best dog treats. After eating, he again licks his nose and Dr Stephens-Lewis (opens in new tab) says it's a sign that a dog may wish to end a training session. In these cases, the dog is negotiating a difficult situation and using the lick as a calming signal.
In a third situation, the dog is being given attention by a tradesman – a stranger, it would seem. Concerned about an interaction, again, there is a flick of the tongue and a nose lick, which the specialist says is communicating stress.
Watch Mr Bungle demonstrate tongue communication
A post shared by Dani Stephens-Lewis PhD: Canine Behaviour Specialist (@agenticpaws) (opens in new tab)
A photo posted by on
“These flicks can be an indication that your dog is anxious, concerned, stressed or cautious about a situation,” Dr Stephens Lewis writes. “Often, these can occur when a dog feels some violation of space, requesting others to back off.”
The video seems to have been well-received, and it's an important watch for anyone concerned about anxiety in dogs, for example.
Dr Stephens-Lewis, who has a PhD in Psychology, is in the final stage of a Level 5 Canine Behaviorist course in the UK and she is aiming to become a Clinical Animal Behaviorist.
“While the science behind animal behavior is still growing, I draw a lot of my knowledge and understanding from human psychology,” she writes.
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David Crookes has been a journalist for more than 20 years and he has written for a host of magazines, newspapers, websites and books including World of Animals, BBC Earth, Dogs and Canines, Gadget and The Independent. Born in England, he lives in a household with two cats but he’s also keenly interested in the differences between the huge number of dog breeds — in fact, you can read many of his breed guides here on PetsRadar. With a lifelong passion for technology, too, he’s always on the lookout for useful devices that will allow people to spend more time with their pets.