Your thoughts about your friendly dogs’ mouth revolve around affectionate licks (or those getting to any crumbs left on your face), trying to remove odd things from it picked up on daily walks, and that it’s always ready for food. And maybe you have thoughts on your dog’s oh-so-fragrant breath too. But, there’s much more to pay attention to when looking at a dog’s mouth.

According to certified applied animal behaviorist, certified dog trainer and author, Karen B. London, Ph.D., the mouth of a dog can give you a great deal of information about the dog’s emotional state and what actions he may take next. Dr. London specializes in the evaluation and treatment of serious behavioral problems, including aggression, so she also knows just how important it is to be aware of the mind set of a dog with strong jaws and sharp teeth.

So what’s behind the various ways a dog’s mouth appears? According to London, one of the first indicators is whether the dog’s mouth is opened or closed. While a calm, friendly dog will typically have an open mouth, a dog that’s fearful or nervous often has his mouth tightly shut. The exception? An overheated dog. London explains that it’s difficult to tell the emotional state of a dog that’s overheated since a dog’s mouth is open simply to cool down. On that note, a dog that is panting but not too warm is probably feeling anxious.

With that, it’s not an open and shut case. Doggie lips and teeth have messages for us too. London explains, “When dogs become emotionally aroused, their mouths reveal a lot about their internal states. Specifically, it is informative to observe the position of the lips and how visible their teeth are.”

To get the full scoop on visual signals, such as whether a dog bares his front teeth, displays a fear grimace or “offensive pucker” and more, read the complete article at the link below. You just never know what you’ll learn through word of mouth.

The Scoop:

For more about the meaning behind a dog’s mouth, read the article from Karen B. London, Ph.D., “Keep your eyes on dogs’ mouths.”

Thank you to our Woof Report Friend Gracie for the photo.