Your dog might be licking its mouth because it thinks youre a jerk

When your best friend catches you in a bad mood, does she try to console you, give you space to cool off or lick her own face in an uncontrollable slobber?

If your best friend is a dog, this third reaction may be familiar to you. Dogs lick their own mouths , noses and jowls all the time. Certain cuteness-obsessed Internet communities call it a “mlem”; some animal behavior researchers prefer to call it mouth-licking, and offer many possible the purpose of explaining the quirky canine behaviour. Mouth-licking has been described as a stress-coping mechanism, a spontaneous display of arousal or a route to communicate desire to play with a certain doll or munch a certain treat.

But according to a new analyze by animal behavior researchers from the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, mouth-licking may actually be one of a dog’s best tools for reading and responding to human faces — including with regard to, angry faces.[ 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Dogs]

In the study, the researchers uncovered 17 healthy adult puppies to a series of audio and video cues representing both positive and negative feelings. On two screens, the test dogs were proven a combination of happy and angry human faces, and happy and angry dog faces — all with accompanying audio recordings. The researchers documented any instances of mouth-licking as each pupper watched the presentation. In the end, they found that only the images of angry human faces proved to be a reliable trigger for mouth-licking.

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