How does your pup greet you when you get home after being away? Does your dog give you a kiss? Think about when you’re hanging on the couch. How do you show affection to your pooch? Many people with dogs like to smother them with kisses. But your pup can’t talk. So, does your dog like kisses?
Kisses are well-accepted displays of affections between humans. So, it makes sense we kiss pups to show them how much we care. But, not every dog loves the sensation. Think about your friends, family, and partners. Everyone has a different love language. The same can be said for canines.
Like humans, some pups are more affectionate than others. Think about your dog’s reaction to your kiss. Does she respond with licks and energetic tail wagging? Or, does your pup stay silent? Some dogs might even find a kiss threatening.
Read body language
It’s simple to tell if your pooch likes this form of affection. Stop reading for a moment and give your pup a kiss. Watch his reaction. If he is alert, tilts his head, licks you in response, or wags his tail, your dog is into it.
However, not all dogs feel this way. Are you about to adopt a new pup? Don’t immediately go in for the kiss. This gesture may be foreign and scary to a dog. Get to know each other first so your dog is comfortable. Puppies may not understand kisses at first, but they will learn as they grow.
These are some indicators your dog doesn’t like this attention:
- Wiggling away
- …and maybe a paw to the face
Why do dogs lick?
Dogs and humans don’t communicate in the same way. Do you lick your friends? For our furry pals, licking is instinctual. This habit begins at birth. Puppies lick their parents to get warmth, learn about their surroundings, and access regurgitated food. This is also how puppies learn what their parents eat.
Many people with dogs experience this behavior from pooch to human, too.
Dana Ebbecke, animal behavior counselor at the ASPCA Adoption Center explained it this way, “The meaning of a dog lick can depend on how the licks are offered to their people…long, slurpy kisses that are accompanied by a soft, wiggly body are usually very affectionate gestures.”
However, according to Ebbecke, “Sometimes small licks near the mouth are ways for the dogs to get more information into their nose.” This type of licking gives your pup access to smells. Your dog uses the scent to get more information about where you’ve been.
Sometimes, licking is a form of submission to a more dominant dog or a way of figuring out what another dog ate for breakfast.
Are kisses bad?
Short answer: it depends. Where do you kiss your dog? Kisses to the fur and body are safe. But licks to the mouth can have negative consequences. Some will disagree, and that’s okay. But just know that doggy kisses to the mouth come with added risk.
According, Neilanjan Nandi, a professor at the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Drexel, dogs’ bodies have lots of viruses and bacteria that humans can’t fight. This is because dogs are another species, and also because pups lick and eat all sorts of things that are not fit for human consumption, like feces.
The nasty bacteria your dog acquires can pass from canine to human. But all is not lost. Leni Kaplan, from the University of Cornell, says that negative consequences for humans are often quite small in healthy people with strong immune systems.
Bottom line: keep kisses away from the mouth to stop the spread of harmful bacteria.
The best way to introduce your pup to kisses is to develop an affectionate relationship from the start. As soon as you get your pup, show them affection. Cuddles and belly scratches are a good place to start. As your dog gets older and builds a rapport with you, they will understand kisses are a good thing.
To train your pup to kiss on command, follow these tips from Wag, “You can hold a treat in your hand and encourage your pooch to lick the hand with the treat. Once they have started doing this, begin using the word ‘kisses’ or a similar word so that they form a link between that word and licking your hand.
Can you feel the love tonight?
There’s no shame in kissing your canine pal. But, be mindful of her body language. It is easy to tell if your pup likes this kind of attention or prefers less physical contact. If you’re looking for another way to show you care, remember that your dog likes staring. Long gazes are hugs without touching. Figure out what your dog likes, and give your pooch love in the way that makes her happiest.