A few weeks ago, we looked at three unique dog behaviors: shaking off, ground scratching, and trembling. We learned that dogs communicate primarily through their body language. So it is important for dog owners to understand this communication. This week, we will discuss three more dog behaviors that are less conspicuous but equally important to understand.
In this post, we are going to examine three more dog behaviors that serve specific purposes. We will look at dog yawning, lip licking, and chewing.
What does it look like? A yawn in a dog is easy to spot. It is exhibited by a wide-opened jaw accompanied by a deep breath. But a yawn from your pup doesn’t always mean your dog is tired. Although a yawn may mean drowsiness, it can also serve as an important signal.
A dog yawn is considered an appeasement behavior. According to DVM 360, appeasement behaviors are “non-confrontational body postures meant to indicate to another individual the desire to interact in a friendly way.” This body language is meant to communicate submission and lessen aggression from a perceived threat.
A dog yawn indicates that a pup feels threatened or anxious but is not aggressive. To avoid conflict, a dog yawns, and thus uses his body language to communicate this desire.
What does it look like? It looks just like it sounds: a dog repeatedly licking their lips. Don’t assume that lip licking is due to being hungry or eyeing a delicious snack. If there is no food within your dog’s proximity, you can assume that your pup is using this signal to communicate.
Like yawning, lip licking is considered an appeasement behavior. If food is not involved, a dog will lick their lips in a situation where they perceive a threat and are signaling that they are not going to react in an aggressive manner. Both yawning and lip licking are appeasement behaviors, but can also mean that a dog is stressed or anxious. It’s necessary to examine the environment and the situation to determine if they are perceiving a threat or are feeling anxious.
What does it look like? Your dog likes to chew on various objects. There are several reasons why a grown dog will chew on objects. One reason is that they are simply exploring. A dog chews to explore their environment, just as humans use their hands to feel things. A second reason a dog may chew is to keep their jaws strong and their teeth clean. The third reason a dog will chew is when they are feeling bored or even anxious.
When you see your pup exhibiting certain behaviors, remember that they are communicating through their body language. They are either trying to communicate with humans or other canines. If you pay close attention to these behaviors along with the context of their environment, you will be able to understand your dog with more ease. Keep reading New Life K9s blogs every week to learn more about dogs and their behavior!
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- Randolph, Brittany. “Why Dogs Love to Chew + How to Encourage Good Chewing Behavior.” Bow Wow Labs, Bow Wow Labs, 9 Apr. 2021,
- Bender, Amy. “Why Do Dogs Yawn?” The Spruce Pets, The Spruce Pets, 17 Nov. 2021, https://www.thesprucepets.com/dog-body-language-yawning-1118228
- Bender, Amy. “What It Really Means When Dogs Lick Their Lips.” The Spruce Pets, The Spruce Pets, 14 July 2021, https://www.thesprucepets.com/dog-body-language-lip-licking-1118243
- Amy L. Pike, DVM. “Canine Body Language Basics.” DVM 360, DVM 360, 7 Jan. 2021, https://www.dvm360.com/view/canine-body-language-basics