Mouth-Licking: When Your Dog Thinks You're Angry

What does it mean if your dog licks their nose and mouth specifically? The answer may surprise you.

Mouth-Licking: When Your Dog Thinks You're Angry

Now more than every before, science has been digging into dog psychology, asking questions, like: What do dogs think? How well do we communicate with each other? What exactly is it that makes a dog a man's best friend? What's fascinating is that researchers are actually coming up with some answers to these questions. Studies have shown that dogs like music (especially reggae) and they have really good memories. There is even evidence that the term fur baby is scientifically accurate.

Now a new study is out that asks another question about the thought process behind dog behavior.

Why Do Dogs Mlem?

Mlem - you may have heard this word on the internet, but just in case, we'll give you a quick definition. A mlem is not a regular lick. Dogs often lick to clean themselves or to show affection, but a mlem is more of an uncontrollable licking of the nose and mouth area that can get pretty slobbery. In scientific terms, it's called mouth-licking. But scientists wanted to know what this behavior actually means.

Here are some highlights of their study, and we quote:

• Mouth-licking was more frequent when dogs were looking at angry faces.
• The response was specific to the visual domain.
• Mouth-licking occurred more often towards human stimuli than dog stimuli.
• The findings suggest dogs have a functional understanding of emotional expressions.

How did they come to those conclusions and what do they really mean? Well, in the study, researchers exposed over a dozen dogs to a series of audio and video cues representing positive and negative emotions. What they found is that the only reliable trigger for mouth-licking was angry human faces. Also, mouth-licking was triggered by visual cues only. These findings show that dogs rely heavily on visual communication and they have an emotional perception of how people are feeling and acting! Pretty cool.

The practical application? If you are upset to the point of giving off bad vibes or even just being a flat out jerk-face, your dog will most likely notice and a mouth-licking session will be in order. So next time you see a mlem starting up, make sure to give your dog a smile and maybe even a reassuring pat. They'll be relieved to see your good mood restored!