Humans express their affection in various ways. Kissing is culturally acceptable as a sign of affection to our loved ones but can also be a greeting in some countries. Seen as a positive gesture, some humans seem to kiss automatically.
As animal lovers, we share that same gesture with our pets. We kiss and cuddle them as a way of showing how much we love them. However, do cats and dogs understand kissing as a sign of affection?
Giving them a big squeezy hug or rubbing their ears as you say how good they are is one thing. But, how do they feel about kisses? Do dogs even understand what kisses are? Let's explore canine communication and affection.
How do dogs talk?
Dogs are similar to their pet parents when it comes to communicating. They have complex and detailed structures to the messages they are trying to convey. The only difference between us and them is that humans have developed more vocal methods of communicating than our canine counterparts.
Dogs communicate vocally by barking, growling, and whimpering, but this does not necessarily indicate speech. In most cases, a dog has a hard time even communicating with other dogs.
One of the best ways a dog can get its message across to other dogs and their human companions is by using physical gestures and movements.
Dogs and body language
Your dog will use body language to tell you what she needs or wants from her human companion. She'll let you walk on the street beside her, pet her, ruffle her neck, and feed her, but do dogs like kisses on the head?
A dog relies heavily on body language, and particular movements have a universal meaning across many animal species. By understanding these visual cues, you'll respond differently to a hungry dog, a dog that wants play, or a frustrated dog.
A dog never makes any movement without it having some deeper meaning.
Understanding your dog
A dog that meets another dog will show the other dog how they feel about it with particular movements and physical gestures. Dogs will typically circle each other before coming face-to-face. They do so to show caution when approaching.
A dog approaching another dog will also give a good whiff before meeting face-to-face. This is because one good sniff will give a dog more information than looking at another dog will. They'll know where the other dog has been, what its temperament is, and more.
Most dogs approach one another sideways. They do this to say "Hello" in a non-threatening way while getting in that sniff before meeting properly. However, if the dog wishes to be more aggressive, they'll approach from behind or head-on, making themselves bigger or more dominant.
Dogs showing affection to other dogs
Dogs do show affection towards one another. The way they do this is by licking. From a human point of view, licking is not typically a way of showing love, but it's a way of communicating affection with dogs.
Let's take a look at how licking plays a part in how dogs show affection.
1. From birth
As soon as a puppy is born, one of the first sensations they feel is a lick from their mother to clean them up after the delivery. A lick teaches them affection from the very beginning.
2. To survive
Licking is crucial for survival in a dog's life. A dog relies on the tongue's function for exploring foods and gathering information about other dogs and their environment.
3. Getting information
When a dog approaches another dog, they approach from the side and lick and sniff one another (usually at the same time). By doing so, they pick up on the scent, which translates to information about the other dog and where it's been.
An emotional response
Why do dogs lick you? Dogs licking may not be a form of kissing from a human point of view, but licking is their way of sending out positive vibes to you.
Why do dogs lick? It releases endorphins. By doing so, the dog might experience a reduction in stress, which makes it feel good.
Who's the boss?
When a dog approaches another dog that may be stronger or more dominant than them, they start licking them as a way of showing they mean no harm. It is a way of showing subservience.
Are you wondering, "why do dogs lick people?" They are showing you that you're the boss.
How to kiss your dog
Now we understand more about the language of affection and love from a dog's point of view. Do dogs like hugs and kisses from pet parents? Do they appreciate or understand the human ways of affection, such as kissing?
Sadly, a dog does not understand what a kiss means. Kisses are something utterly foreign to them. They understand another canine coming up to them and giving them a lick, but a human face approaching it with a kiss is something they just don't understand.
Do dogs not like kisses? Some dogs don't enjoy getting kisses but tolerate their owner's affection; after all, they are loyal creatures! Others will lap up any sign of love and return it in buckets! Every dog has a different personality and will respond differently.
It's important to remember that your dog is your best friend. Making sure it feels loved is essential. Besides tons of affection, you could install a bed ramp for dogs to help them up to the bed for a cuddle. Another way in which they experience love is by spending time with their pet parents.
If you want to kiss your dog, here are some tips
If you start kissing an adult dog out of the blue, it could respond with fear or aggression, or it could return your affection. It's best to take it slowly initially; there are a few ways you can show human-type love to your furry friend without it causing an issue.
Here are some tips to get your dog to become familiar with a kiss from you:
#1. Start at the puppy stage
By kissing your dog early, you introduce them to a behavior that will feel normal over time. It may even catch on that kissing makes you happy and return the favor by giving you a few licks back.
#2. Make it a trick
Another way to treat your affection is as a trick. Hold a treat in your hand, but teach them to give you a "kiss" for the treat. As you get the doggie kisses, repeat the voice command "kisses" so your dog can learn to respond to your voice.
Next you could hold the treat closer to your nose so that they give you a lick there. Over time, you won't even have to use a treat. The vocal command and proximity of your nose will show the dog you want affection.
By working with the dog in this way, they will eventually become comfortable with a kiss on their head or nose as your way of showing affection.
#3. Be gentle, and read the signs
Do dogs like kisses from humans? How can you tell? By paying close attention to your furry friend's body language, you'll know if it is okay with you coming near and showing it love.
Approach with caution, especially if the dog is older, speak gently to it, and make sure you read the visible cues. You'll soon learn how to know if it will accept a smooch on the head.
You can kiss that kiss goodbye!
A kiss from a human doesn't mean anything at all to a dog. However, your furry buddy will sense your intentions. So, if you feel like showering your best buddy with tons of kisses, go for it, but only if you're sure it’s okay with it.
If you want to show your dog affection in a way it understands it, instead use food - a universal love language that goes back centuries. Sharing food with your pet is one of the best ways to build a bond between you and it.
Other ways to give your dog love are taking them for a walk, playing some games, or taking them to the park, or to the beach for a swim. Kisses are usually more about you than your dog, so giving your dog the affection they want and need will be even more meaningful to them.