Sometimes, a dog's body language can seem so obvious and easy, such as the excited tail wagging upon seeing a beloved owner return home. Other times, not so much. Incessant air licking and whining can point to everything from severe stress to feelings of vulnerability and defeat.
If your doggie keeps licking the air, then he may be attempting to create a truce with another seemingly tougher party. In the canine world, licking of the air is a sign of peacemaking, notes the Caring Hands Humane Society. If a dog is doing this, he likely is extremely frightened by someone or something, and is acknowledging his lesser power by essentially admitting vulnerability. This action is definitely not an indication of a confident, self-assured dog in any way.
Licking the air also is often an obsessive-compulsive pattern in the canine species, similar to tail chasing, consuming inedible items, persistent barking, spinning around and following shadows. Your dog's air licking may be a compulsive reaction to a number of different issues that may be making him unhappy and anxious, including major life change and unfamiliarity, a cramped crate, conflict among other household pets, isolation, separation anxiety and classic boredom.
If you add whining into the mix of air licking, your poor pooch's vocalization probably is a result of anxiety or fear. Since licking of the air is a submissive action, your dog is likely whimpering because he's scared of his opponent. He may feel helpless and terrified, and apart from attempts to remedy the situation by making peace, his other gut reaction may be to whine and cry, too.
When it comes to compulsive behavior, frustration sometimes is the culprit behind a dog's air licking. If a dog is whining while licking the air compulsively, the behavior may be a result of stress and frustration rather than fear. Whether a dog feels lonely due to the long absence of an owner at work all day or intensely bored due to lack of toys and fluffy companions for playtime, he may let it all out it by engaging in both of these behaviors.