It’s peculiar and a little funny, isn’t it? Your dog sticks their tongue out at you when you decide to pet them.
It’s actually called a ‘blep’. But more on that later.
Regardless of what it is called, is it something to worry about? Do you need to do anything about it? Can you stop them, even? Well, today, we are going to be covering all!
So, why does my dog stick the tip of his tongue out when I pet him? When you pet your dog, they might stick their tongue out as a sign of being excited or, alternatively, relaxed. Other reasons might include panting to cool down, concentrating on something, or exploring their environment with their taste and smell senses.
Let’s continue to explore, shall we?
Why Do Dogs Stick Their Tongues Out While Being Petted?
Dogs typically stick their tongue out while being petted out of one of two extremes; excitement or relaxation.
Out Of Excitement
Just like us humans, dogs can express their feelings in the most interesting of ways.
When I’m petting my Cockapoo, Bailey, she often sticks her tongue out, wagging her tail like there’s no tomorrow.
It’s almost like she’s smiling but with her tongue!
It’s her way of saying, “I love this attention!”
They Are Relaxed In Your Presence
On the flip side, sticking their tongue out while being petted might also be a sign that your dog is comfortable and relaxed in your presence.
When I’m lounging on the couch, I often notice Bailey comes over and flops down next to me.
As I stroke her fur, she lets her tongue hang out almost absentmindedly.
I can’t help but chuckle at this sight.
I like to think of it as his version of a contented sigh, a sign that he’s entirely at ease with me.
What Is The Act Of Leaving The Tip Of The Tongue Out Of The Mouth Called?
Looking for a name to describe this behavior?
Well, look no further than the term ‘blep‘.
A ‘blep’ is the name given to a dog that sticks their tongue out of its mouth only slightly.
It’s common in many animals, too, namely cats.
Here is how Braxton’s Animal Works describe it:
A blep is:
“Leaving the tongue, usually the tip, outside the mouth unconsciously.”
So, if you want to refer to this behavior to other people (such as a vet) or run some further internet searches, this is the term you need!
Other Reasons Why Dogs May Stick Out Their Tongue
While the most common reasons dogs stick their tongues out are due to excitement and relaxation, there are several other reasons that your dog might be showcasing this quirky behavior.
They Are Hot!
One of the most common reasons is panting.
Dogs pant to regulate their body temperature.
When your dog sticks out their tongue, they’re increasing the surface area that’s exposed to air, which helps cool them down.
It’s more common in warm weather or after exercise.
They Are Concentrating
Just as humans might stick out their tongues when focusing on a challenging task, dogs might do the same.
You might notice your dog sticking out their tongue when they’re trying to figure out how to get a treat from a puzzle toy or when they’re carefully sniffing an interesting scent.
For Taste and Smell
Remember, dogs have a highly developed sense of smell and taste.
They use their tongues to explore their environment.
So, if your dog sticks their tongue out, they could be trying to gather more information about something that smells or tastes interesting.
Due To Age or Health Conditions
In some cases, an older dog, or a dog with certain health conditions or dental issues, might have their tongue hang out more often.
This is usually due to a loss of muscle tone.
If you notice your dog’s tongue hanging out more than usual, and they seem to be in discomfort or are having difficulty eating or drinking, it’s best to consult with a veterinarian.
Its A Characteristic Of Their Breed
Lastly, for some dogs, sticking out their tongue might simply be a characteristic of their breed.
Breeds with shorter noses, like Pugs, Bulldogs, and Shih Tzus, often have tongues that naturally stick out a bit.
Equally, a dog’s tongue may be too big for their mouth, and by protruding out, they gain some comfort!
Do You Need To Worry If Your Dog Sticks Their Tongue Out While You Pet Them?
There is typically no need to worry if your dog sticks their tongue out while you pet them.
It’s often normal behavior and often a sign of a content, comfortable, and happy dog.
However, it’s always important to look at the bigger picture and other signs your dog might be showing.
If your dog is showing signs of discomfort, acting lethargic, or their tongue is unusually dry or discolored, it could indicate a health issue, and you should seek veterinary advice.
At the same time, consider whether this is a new behavior in relation to your dog’s age and typical behavior.
If it is new, and appears somewhat out of the blue, then yes, it is usually a good idea to get them checked out too!
Can You Stop A Dog From Sticking Their Tongue Out While Being Petted?
You may be able to stop your dog from sticking their tongue out while you pet them, depending on the root cause of the behaviour. That being said, just because you may be able to doesn’t necessarily mean you should.
Perhaps you’re not a fan of this behavior or concerned that it might cause your dog to drool excessively.
Is it possible to stop your dog from sticking their tongue out while being petted?
First, let me stress that it’s, more often than not, a natural and harmless behavior, typically showing your dog is in good spirits.
You wouldn’t want to discourage your dog from expressing these positive emotions, would you?
But, if it’s causing an issue such as excessive drooling, you might want to try modifying how you pet your dog.
They might stick their tongue out less if you pet them in a different way or in a different spot.
That being said these efforts may even prove unfruitful.
Ultimately, remember that every dog is unique and that they communicate in their own adorable, quirky ways.
A dog that leaves the tip of their tongue out of their mouth while being petted is typically communicating one of two things; their excited, or they are calm.
Either way, it’s typically a very positive sign and behavior.
And it’s not unique to your dog, either.
Besides, it’s got its own name: ‘blepping’.
And it has been observed in many animals, including cats.
With all this being said, some dogs certainly ‘blep’ more than others.
And there is the possibility that something is up with your dog too. It’s unlikely in most circumstances, but this is one potential sign to look out for.
So keep a close eye on your dog, any other accompanying behaviors, and consider if this is new.
For the most part though, try to enjoy it as just a little quirk of dog ownership.
Related guides you may want to read:
- Why Does My Dog Stick His Tongue In And Out Like A Snake?
- Why Does My Dog Stick The Tip Of His Tongue Out While Sleeping?
I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.