Sao Paulo: Have you ever wondered why dogs are in a habit of licking their mouth? It may not only be considered as a simple behaviour in response to food or uncertainty but also a communicative process towards the angry facial attitude of the humans, a study has found.
The study mentioned that years of domestication has made the dogs inculcate certain gestures such as licking their faces, which the animals use as a signal to communicate their response with the humans.
When humans in particular confront the dogs with angry faces, the domesticated animals lick their mouth as a responsive behaviour, unlike the cases of other dogs whereby the animals remain unaffected by any visual cues of anger.
“Humans are known to be very visual in both intra and inter-specific interactions, and because the vision of dogs is much poorer than humans, we often tend to think of them using their other senses to make sense of the world,” said Daniel Mills, Professor at Britain’s University of Lincoln.
“But these results indicate that dogs may be using the visual display of mouth-licking to facilitate dog-human communication in particular,” Mills added.
The study, published in the journal Behavioural Processes, examined the behaviour of dogs by showing them facial expressions, both positive and negative,of dogs as well as the humans.
The results showed that the dogs licked their mouth majorly while viewing the angry human faces.
“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,” said Natalia Albuquerque, lead researcher of the study.
“Most importantly, the findings indicate that this behaviour is linked to the animals’ perception of negative emotions,” she added.