What is the most revealing body language?
The great big licks out of the side of the mouth, sometimes accompanied by a toss of the head, are telling you whether you are the trainer or the trainee. One side will consistently mean, "I didn't get away with that one," or "I'm, going to see just how much I can get away with." Big licks on the opposite side will consistently mean, "You can't fool me! I'm not going to fall for the bait. I'm hot stuff, and I know it!" How do you know which side corresponds with which definition? Keep track. Dogs can be right-sided or left-sided just like we can be right-handed or left-handed.
Although the right and left side licks will not be foolproof, they will be consistent enough for you to determine which side corresponds to which statement. If your dog was about to do something wrong and "thought" better of it, you will see her lick out of the side corresponding to the statement, “I’m going to see just how much I can get away with." If your dog never considered making the mistake she will lick out the side corresponding to the statement, "I'm hot stuff, and I know it!” If your dog is a cheater, and fudges on every issue, she will consistently lick out of the side which says, "I'm going to see just how much I can get away with." The same side will apply when she makes a mistake and gets corrected for it.
Each dog will have to be watched carefully to determine which side belongs to which statement. Some dogs do not give themselves away with their tongues in the beginning of their education. This occurs usually when the dog rarely holds her mouth open anyway. If this is the case, it will change as soon as your dog starts working for you in obedience.
© Shannon Schaefer