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So, I've read a bunch of calming signal stuff, and watched dogs at social class a bit. I'm a little confused over one particular calming signal though....Lip licking. This just struck me this morning when I was petting a dozy, cuddly Caeda.
Often when I rub Caeda behind the ear, on the belly or whatever other place I get the impression that she likes she does this sort of lip licking, or lip smacking thing (I'm hoping you guys know what I'm talking about). I've seen tons of dogs do this, my impression is that they like what is happening (and sometimes lean into it). Am I misinterpreting or is this a different kind of lip licking/smacking thing? Just curious....I'd hate to think I was petting her and she actually hated it, her and all of the other dogs that I've seen do this.
 

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So, I've read a bunch of calming signal stuff, and watched dogs at social class a bit. I'm a little confused over one particular calming signal though....Lip licking. This just struck me this morning when I was petting a dozy, cuddly Caeda.
Often when I rub Caeda behind the ear, on the belly or whatever other place I get the impression that she likes she does this sort of lip licking, or lip smacking thing (I'm hoping you guys know what I'm talking about). I've seen tons of dogs do this, my impression is that they like what is happening (and sometimes lean into it). Am I misinterpreting or is this a different kind of lip licking/smacking thing? Just curious....I'd hate to think I was petting her and she actually hated it, her and all of the other dogs that I've seen do this.
I went to a seminar with Turid Rugaas a few years ago. One thing she had use do was slightly lean over our dogs. Every time I did, Alice licked her lips. Now she wasn't really worried, and I don't think she hated it, but it was just a bit of social pressure. Sometimes these behaviors are calming signals. Sometimes they are something else. For instance, a dog may sniff the ground as a calming signal to another dog, or because there is something really cool on the ground, or (my theory) to help them think through a problem. I wonder of Caeda's licking/lip smacking is a throw back to the first thing she found pleasant - nursing?
 

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1. Not all Calming Signals relay anxiety or are even calming signals. Sometimes a cigar really is just a cigar, however, I do believe that you are seeing an emotional communication in this case.
2. Turid Rugaas does not make much of a distinction in her books or seminars between lip licking and nose licking. However, when asked, she advised watching the dog and record the situation... that may also hold true for just lip licking.
3. I agree strongly with Pawzk9 (and had forgotten) that looming over a dog can result in a small tongue flick. In fact, my Lab will do the same tongue flick if I (purposely) stare at him too long...
4. On the other hand, if I scratch my dog's throat or jaw (very desirable!), he will tongue flick or lip lick to indicate that he is ready for me to scratch another spot ... for example if I scratch the right side of his jawbone, when he's had enough a tongue flick, then switch to the left side...
5. Whatever is going on, she does Not hate it. She would probably get up and leave if it were that bad (or might yawn :)
6. With my dog, I have seen a progression that I'll over-generalize: A distant, annoying or not-understood behavior gets a tongue-flick. A closer cause for mild anxiety gets a lip lick. Direct confusion (telling him to Sit, when he is already sitting, etc.) or impending undesirable interaction can get a tongue lick. Being in a non-threatening, but undesirable situation - like being hugged - can result in a yawn. ... Before the actual hug, he may swallow (Not sure if that is documented as a Calming Signal, but it is very reproducible)... And after the hug, he will shake off.
6. Now, with this additional info from Pawzk9 and others, you may make a more informed guestimation of the emotion going on.
 

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AH HAH....good call on the nursing. I really don't think she's feeling pressure (or at least unpleasant pressure). The neighbour's dog was just by and I pet him (BIG bear of a dog) he instantly leaned into me for more, and he did the same lip licking thing. Every time I stopped he popped his head under my hand asking for more and if I stroked him, he did the same lip licking again. I really don't think in this specific cases while being petted there is stress....but I'm really trying to pay attention to reading dog body language (especially Caeda's), especially since we're doing so much doggy social and obedience training with other dogs and people. I'm trying to be vigilant in learning this stuff especially since I now have a great opportunity to do so! I like knowing the difference :)

and the seminar with Turid Rugaas AWESOME!
 

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i had read somewhere that lip licking and is a sign of calmness/security/relaxation....and that yawning was a sign of stress......all the Border Collies that i have watched for behaviors will do excessive lip licking/flicking just b/4 they snap at whatever is bothering them (they will, also, stick just the tip out of the front).....all of mine yawn in degrees when enjoying something or felling calm in a situation (starts w/ a small yawn and grows to a big yawn just b/4 they lay down or something).....

i don't watch just the one thing, i take into account the whole body
 

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hanksimon, I think you and I must have posted pretty close together lol.
Great information! I've been trying to learn more and more of her body language as she grows and her personality becomes more distinct. I probably should actually try to reproduce some things so I can get a better idea, and even write them down. I've seen her do stuff, like a yawn most often, for no obvious reason, but I'm sure in many cases I could find one (though true...sometimes a cigar is just a cigar!). I'm sure that there are some minor variations and subtleties between dogs as well.
I've got two major goals in all of it: to be able to interpret her better so I can understand her and perhaps improve our training so it is the least stressful on her AND me (though I am starting to see that for some things, she'll be a little uncomfortable or at least confused until the lightbulb goes on). Secondly, if I'm stroking or petting her the more she likes it the better IMO :)
 
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