7 reasons your dog kisses you

7 Reasons Your Dog Kisses You.7 Reasons Your Dog Kisses You.

Why Does Your Dog Kiss You?

I enjoy cuddling up with my dog, just like so many other dog owners. What I don’t like is dogs licking people around the face. However, there are a lot of dog owners that want this too. We know it is common for people to share their affection through hugs and kisses, but is it natural for dogs to cuddle and kiss and do they enjoy the experience? Why does my dog lick me?

To get an answer to this, we have to watch our dog and observe their behaviour. The question we need to ask ourselves is “what is our dog communicating when demonstrating this behaviour?”

Often we as dog owner treat and interpret our dog’s actions as humans this is anthropomorphism. When a dog licks people, they often say they are being “kissed”.  My first response is what has that dog possibly been doing only moments before, eating a dead rotting carcass whilst outside, eating other animal faeces, or licking parts of their body you wouldn’t want your face near.

Do you still want your dog licking your face or the face of someone close to you?

Here are some reasons that dogs lick each other and humans.

Instinct.7 reasons your dog kisses you

It is a natural thing for dogs to do. Some people have observed puppies of dogs and wolves. Puppies lick their parents around the mouth. Some say it is effection others say submission. Most agree it is related to cleaning and eating. The parent may have food around their mouth, which the puppy cleans or eating. Whatever the reason for this behaviour, it is an instinct that puppies display from an early age.

As the action of licking is instinct, it is possible to teach a dog to associate something positive to “licking”, so they then lick when they feel a certain way, or are stimulated in a given way. If you link the action to affection, you can teach a dog to “lick” or “Kiss” as an affectionate act; to receive positive attention from an individual.

Learning Experience about the world around them. 

Dogs senses are different and more acute than ours, and they use them to their best advantage. We all know a dogs sense of smell is acute; sniffing is used by dogs to learn about their environment, and so is licking. When a dog licks your face they can create a picture of what you have been doing without them, for example, your dog can tell what you had for lunch, and who you had lunch with, what perfume they wore and much more, especially when you acknowledge they smell you at the same time.

The bottom line is dogs are curious, and can’t ask questions; they gather information through their senses.

Dogs lick to greet each other, and you. 

Dogs will lick each other as a way to say hello, just as we may shake hands. When you are walking your dog, and you meet another dog, you can observe this behaviour. This behaviour can also so hierarchy and who is the dominant dog and which is more submissive.

It is interesting to watch your dog interact with other dogs. You can learn a lot about how dogs communicate and how dog forms their communities or relationships. As dogs may use “Licking as a method of demonstrating submission, they may be doing that to you.

A method of dogs demonstrating affection towards each other7 reasons your dog kisses you

We can’t deny that dog do lick each other, and it isn’t a sign of aggression, so we could assume it is a sign of affection. If it is a sign of love, there is an argument that dogs do “kiss” by “licking.”

We need to be careful when making these assumptions because the communication between dogs is much more complicated than what I have just stated. The outcome could be severe if we misinterpret their communication. As you lean forward to engage your dog, believing it is communicating one message and you’re mistaken you may be leaning in and are bitten.

They are preventing a violent confrontation.

As I already mentioned, a submissive dog might lick a more dominant dog. A dog may be sending out a message. The dog’s statement could be they submit and don’t want to fight. Dogs may communicate in this way to de-escalate a situation preventing a fight.

Dogs are often emotionally charged when they “lick” especially If the dog is stressed. Licking may indicate levels of discomfort and anxiety, that could be one step away from a bite. You should bear this in mind when your dog is near children. It is not good practice to allow children to hug, kiss and squeeze your dog or any other dog with whom they may have contact.  I often see problems like this with family dogs. The owner will say the dog is fine; it likes it, then suddenly the person hugging or squeezing the dog get bitten.

They Enjoy it.

The action of licking causes a dog to have a release of endorphins; this makes licking a pleasurable experience.

When people go out for a run, they also get endorphins released, and exercise becomes pleasurable. People are known to become addicted to the release of these endorphins. Dogs are no different, and they can become addicted to endorphins. The result is they develop nuisance behaviours surrounding licking. They don’t need to exert themselves and go for a run lick your face,

Stress. dogs help mental health

As I have already mentioned, licking can mean more than one thing. You must observe your dog and see the context of what your dogs licking means in a given situation. One of the negative reasons for licking is stress.

Licking can be a de-escalation technique used by dogs in a stressful situation. If you aren’t observant around your dog in this situation, you could develop further problems of aggression.

Licking when a dog is stressed can be a signal they want you to move away, and they want to be left alone.

The Big Question is…

The big question you should be asking is what is my dog thinking when it wants to lick/kiss someone.? Looking at the above reasons for licking, and it is evident that it is part of a complex system of communication. Licking alone does not give you an answer.

The next question I would suggest asking is, should I hug and kiss dogs? The answer is not straight forward. We all love to cuddle our dogs, and it is a good thing for our dogs and our mental health; when it comes to hugging strange dogs or strangers hugging our dogs, I don’t recommend it. As for licking and kissing, I could give similar advice, but I refer back to what I mentioned at the start of this article, regarding hygiene. Do you want a dog licking you on the face when it has had things in its mouth or lick parts of its body before licking your face?

Children should NEVER be allowed or encouraged to hug or kiss dogs.

It is easy for adults to miss the cues dogs give off. A child can easily miss warning signs. Especially when a child is excited and focused on hugging the dog; the dog’s boundaries are easily pushed too far, and the family pet who frequently hugs and kisses you may suddenly turn and bite the child.

Relationships between dogs and children can become a problem in a family home when your dog sees the child as a challenger. That challenge is for your attention. There is only one way to manage this risk, and it doesn’t matter how soft you believe your dog to be. All home should have a rule that interaction between dogs, children are supervised, and no one kisses the dog. Licking on the face is against house rules for everyone.

Can Dogs Be Taught To Enjoy Hugs & Kisses?

I am often asked, “Can Dogs Be Taught To Enjoy Hugs & Kisses?” It is a question I have to answer, but I don’t find it easy. The obvious answer would be, don’t do it, and I would stick to that concerning kissing a dog. But when we get a dog, it is to be a companion, and it offers so many benefits to hug and cuddle your dog.  The benefits of hugs and stroking dogs for our mental health are remarkable if this is one of the purposes of your dog, which I guess it is for most people I would suggest getting a puppy or very young dog with a known background. You can teach these dogs to see giving and receiving kisses as a positive show of affection. Dogs adopted as adults from rescues/shelters, or even other private homes should be handled with care.

As for your child, you know their personality and how they interact with your dog. Only you know how they will interact with a dog. Just as all dogs can have a different temperament, so do children.

You will hear comments about specific breeds and that their taits mean that some dogs will NEVER enjoy receiving hugs and should never be around children. From my experience, this is not true. All dogs should be treated with the same amount of caution.

Dogs can learn from your positive feedback that you enjoy their licks and kisses. Dogs can understand that this is a positive and pleasurable experience for them and you. Positive reinforcement can achieve great things.

Enjoy your time with your dog and make all experiences positive for you and them.

Remember to stay safe.

 

18 thoughts on “7 Reasons Your Dog Kisses You.”

  1. Bruce says:

    Very cool article!  It’s funny because I’m just now for the first time reading about how I feel when a dog kisses/licks someone.  What if that dog just got done licking something else or ate a dead animal or went through the trash?  Your site is unique in that you show a great deal of personal experience along with supporting that opinion.  Nicely done.  My boxer as a puppy would lick the faces of bigger dogs or dogs he felt submissive around.  After reading about that in your article, it came to me when he did that.  As a Boxer owner, loved the article on that breed.  Good job on covering all the facts that are accurate and well written.  Nice job and good luck!

    1. Nic Castle says:

      Thanks Bruce for visiting my site and leaving a comment. Boxers are great dogs.

  2. Brandy says:

    This was a a really fun and insightful article. We currently have a farm, with one German Shepherd and one Great Pyrenees. Both like to lick me on the chin, but (as you mentioned in you article) for different reasons. 

    You can tell that its more of a submissive lick from my Great Pyrenees, while the German Shepherd is much more dainty and affectionate. 

    1. Nic Castle says:

      Those are two big dogs. It is through observing differences in the little things dogs do that makes us realise how intricate dogs communication is.

  3. Karin says:

    Great article. I have had dogs for over 20 years, first one, then she had puppies and I kept one so I had two, and then when mom died, I had one again; They both loved licking and I had no problem with that. Cause they were my dogs. I would have never let another dog lick me.

    Why that is? I never studied it but knew instinctively why I let it happen. I trusted them, I knew where they lived ( with me ), what they ate ( except for when they were in the parc ), I knew where they slept ( inside, often on my bed ).

    I just think the fact I was so familiar with them gave me that trust.

    I have cats now and with cats it’s the same.

    Thanks for enlightening me with the article.  Dogs codes are very interesting.

    1. Nic Castle says:

      Thank you for commenting, all animal are a great asset to our lives

  4. Nina says:

    When we still had the dog, I didn’t let him lick my face, but he could lick my hand. But we hugged him a lot and carried him on our arms, that was his favorite position because that’s how he saw everything from a higher perspective (we had a Maltese, which is a small breed). 

    Really interesting explanations in this article. With us, our dog licked with joy when he saw us, or when he was naughty, and he knew we were severe and he was stressed. An interesting explanation is that a submissive dog might lick a more dominant dog to prevent violent confrontation.

    Greetings,

    Nina

    1. Nic Castle says:

      Thank you for visiting and commenting. I find it interesting how a dog communicates and it is this that enables us to train dog well.

  5. Marisa says:

    Hi Nic, This is an interesting read for me and I discovered many things I had no idea about.

    I am not a dog owner but growing up at my parents, my brothers and my dad always had dogs at home, all sorts of pedigree; German Shepherd, Bulldog, poodle, Doberman, Great Dane etc.. There were so many I can´t even remember.

    I could assume that licking, especially when dogs come close to your face, is meant to be kissing, but I would have never imagined some of the other emotions you mentioned like licking to avoid a confrontation or to release stress.

    I enjoyed your article. Thank you.

    1. Nic Castle says:

      Thank you for taking time to visit my site and comment.

  6. Les says:

    Well, I have never given that much thought into why a dog licks someone in the face. Although, I have thought about what has it been licking beforehand, usually with a chuckle when I see this.

    I was watching a show once where a large dog was next to a woman and she had her face too close to it and it bit her. So, I know what you say is true about not putting your face anywhere close to a dog that doesn’t know you.

    Thanks for explaining why a dog may be licking someone, it makes me wonder about other things, too.

    1. Nic Castle says:

      Thank you for commenting, I chuckle when I see a dog lick it bottom then run over to an owner and lick their face. uuurghh.

  7. Christine says:

    It is true that dogs can lick some things that you don’ want in your face before they lick you. One of my dogs eats and licks the most disgusting things, so I dont let her lick my face after she has made her rounds on my property. 

    My Pit Bull licks me and the leading dog in submission. I did not realize it before, but now that I read your article I am beginning to understand that that is why he does it. He does it exuberantly, every time, he licks my leg 😉 He is a very sweet and gentle boy, and he likes to be friends with everybody, dogs, cats, and people. 

    I never leave my dogs unsupervized with children. Although my dogs are friendly, children do not always realize the dog’s boundaries and can unwittingly challenge perfectly nice dogs. I once had a roommate, many years ago, and when his girlfriend came over with her daughter (who was not good with dogs), I told him not to leave her alone with my dogs. One day he did (I was in the kitchen nearby), and I heard growling. I got there just in time to call my dog back. I was so mad at that guy! The house was big and we had lots of separate space, but there were still several issues with him, especially an “I couldn’t care less” or “nothing is going to happen” attitude with my dogs, which could get them and me in trouble – because in the end, I would end up getting blamed for his actions. So, after a while, I told him to leave and find another rental. I did not want to take the risk.

    1. Nic Castle says:

      Thank you for your comment Christine, It sounds like your roommate was lucky and that you are responsible with your dog. Pit bulls are an interesting dog along with rottweilers and others. They are often seen as vicious but they are so loving and well natured as family dogs. It isn’t their fault idiots used and uses them as fighting dogs. They are usually vicious because of bad owners. I would equally keep a small Bichon Frise away from lone children as I would any other breed

  8. Sterling Bryant says:

    This website, about 7-reasons-your-dog-kisses-you is a very well written and very informative.  I have learned why dogs lick and now I have a bettor understanding about dogs licking. Giving an understanding of what he dog is doing give you great understanding of the dog’s behavior, which some people don’t understand.  I believe that a person needs to be aware of the attitude when they approach, especially if you have never met the dog before. I have always been told that when you approach a dog and the dog is wagging his/her tail that was a good sign the dog is not aggressive.

  9. Lucas Moore says:

     It’s extremely usual for human beings to express their affection for one
      another with smooches and squeezes. And also there’s nothing rather as
     fantastic as having your favored canine furball cuddled up in your arms
     while you’re watching television or simply relaxing on the sofa. your article has shown me some of the reason for my dogs behavior thank you very much for this article.

  10. Joy says:

    hello there nice article you have here, i usually see some dogs kissing their owner and i think its disgusting but after seeing the reasons you stated here i think am calm about the issue now maybe am going to try it out for the first time thanks for sharing this very educative post with the public.

  11. Energy Kadango says:

    Wow, thank you for the informative post. I did not know that dogs lick people because is their form of greeting, hh=owever one can always tell it is out of affection as you noted. It is also great to know that it is their way of saying they don’t want to fight. A lot of people run away from dogs when they try to do their thing LOL

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