It is late in the afternoon on a Sunday and your family is now relaxing after a long day at the beach. Your dog is sitting on his bed. He is staring at you and looking around, minding his own business but then you notice that he has not closed his mouth in quite a while. It seems quite odd to you that your dog needs to keep his mouth open at this time because he does not seem thirsty or hot. As owners, knowing why your dog behaves in certain ways can help you better care for them. So why does your dog sit with his mouth open sometimes?
The Root of the Behavior
There are many behavioral traits that canines have. Most of them will give owners a clue as to how they are wired. One of them is the positioning of the mouth. Many dogs will sit with their mouths open, and some don’t, but this is usually a behavioral trait that cannot be ignored. There are many reasons why your dog keeps his mouth open. Most times, your dog will sit with his mouth open because he is comfortable and relaxed. If your dog is sitting with his mouth open and his tongue is hanging out a little, then you are in luck. It looks as if your dog is pretty happy. Sometimes, dogs will open their mouths, as well, if they are overheated because panting can help cool them down. Yet, this usually will not relate to any emotion that your dog is having and it is a natural part of being a canine. If your dog does not seem happy, has their mouth open, and they are panting, they may be having anxiety. If your dog does not have his mouth open at all, he may be fearful, nervous, or upset. It is important to know that your dog’s mouth being closed is not always negative, but you will usually be able to tell if your dog has an emotion that is linked to their behavior. There are other reasons your dog may have their mouth open, as well, and it usually related to something a bit different than the happy emotion you may be used to seeing. Sometimes, the corners of your dog’s mouth may be pulled back and you may be able to see their teeth. If this is the case, their mouth may be open because of a fearful or angry situation that is in front of them. Your dog uses his mouth for many things from expressing his emotions and cooling himself down to exploring the world.
Encouraging the Behavior
If you notice that your dog always has their mouth open, then it is recommended that you pay attention to their behavior. Once you determine why your dog has their mouth open frequently, you can decide if it is a positive or negative reason. Most times, your dog will display his mouth open in a way that does not look like he is in pain or feeling some type of fear. When this is the case, it is best to allow this. Your dog uses his mouth to cool himself down, explore the world, and simply remain in a relaxed and happy state. If your dog does not have his mouth open, don’t force it, but allow your dog to keep their mouth open if that is what feels most comfortable for them. There is nothing to fear about these behavioral traits. If you feel like your dog has their mouth open consistently due to panting, you can look up their breed type and see if they are prone to overheating or need water more often. Yet, depending on this, most times your dog will have its mouth open because it is the most comfortable position and there is no harm in that.
Other Solutions and Considerations
All dog owners want to make sure that their dog is safe, happy, and in the best health. If your dog tends to have their mouth open often with their tongue loosely hanging out, you are in luck. Your dog is probably relaxed and happy and that is a dog’s natural state. Yet, if your dog doesn’t have their mouth open most of the time, there is nothing to fear either. Some dogs are quiet and although a closed mouth can sometimes mean fear and nervousness, don’t jump to conclusions. If you are concerned about your dog’s behavior, you can check with your veterinarian to see if there are health concerns regarding how they are. Yet, most times your dog is probably fine.
Our pets are our family. We know them like the back of our hand. Every dog is different and every dog that is in a loving household will usually feel content. Sometimes, that won't be the case but as owners, we can usually tell. If our intuition tells us that our dog is happy, we must believe it, even if they don’t have their mouth open like the rulebook says.
By a Golden Retriever lover Erika Seidel
Published: 02/22/2018, edited: 01/30/2020