Dogs And Kisses: Do Dogs Know What It Means To Be Kissed, And Do They Like It?

Don’t you love it when you come home from work and your dog greets you excitedly in front of the door?

What’s the one thing you do once you see your beloved fur baby patiently waiting for you to greet them?

You may either praise them verbally or hug them, and some pet parents absolutely love smooching the heck out of them!

PHOTO: Unsplash/Roman Tsvetkov

But since dogs don’t really kiss each other as humans do, and the fact that what we call “dog kisses” are in the form of licking, should we really kiss our dogs? Licking them is not an option, because, well, that’s simply not normal behavior, and it will cause confusion because licking is a form of submissive act for dogs that they use to acknowledge the leader of their pack. If you lick them back, it will disrupt the social structure that they have established in their minds.

Anyways, back to kissing! Should you do it, and do dogs like it?

That urge to kiss your dog is almost impossible to deny. Their simple existence is enough reason for you to shower them with love through various acts such as petting, cuddling, giving them treats, and kissing them. As long as they’re okay with it, of course, because not every form of human affection can be understood by dogs.

“Dogs aren’t born into this world knowing what a kiss from a human means,” says Rachel Salant, an animal behavior specialist at

One sign that they don’t mind getting kisses from you is when they lick you back. Not only is it a form of submission to their pack leader or an act of appeasement, but it can also be a simple way to tell you that they like you.

PHOTO: Pixabay/JackieLou DL

According to Salant, “Whether or not a dog tolerates or even enjoys kisses from a human depends on the individual dog, his or her upbringing, and what he or she has learned from the experiences with people being very close to the face.”

Just as we’ve said in our other article about dogs and petting, the way dogs receive affection depends on each individual. Always check their body language when you do things they might not be used to, especially if your dog didn’t grow up within your household.

If your dog reacts strangely to human affections (e.g., kisses and hugs), stop for a while and let them get used to such displays of affection if you really want to continue doing so. Our pet’s comfort should be the priority here. Even if what you’re doing is relatively harmless, you should stop if they don’t like receiving that kind of affection.

You can’t conclusively say that dogs do or don’t like kisses, because they simply don’t know what a kiss is. What they enjoy, however, are the pets that usually come with the kiss.

If you notice that your dog tends to sneeze when you go in for a smooch, it may be because they’re sensitive to the artificial chemicals from your personal care products. Step away from your pooch when this happens if sneezing isn’t a part of your dog’s playful acts.

Finally, I will leave you again with a reminder to always observe how your dogs behave when you perform such acts of human affection. They might not mind getting kisses from time to time, but always look at their body language before and during an interaction.

PHOTO: Unsplash/nrd

Signs such as looking away, pinned-back ears, and tucked tail should tell you that they’re uncomfortable with these types of affectionate acts.

“When we ignore these polite messages the dog sends, then sometimes the dog will eventually feel the need to communicate more clearly, and that may mean a growl, snap, or bite,” said Dr. Valarie Tynes, a veterinary behaviorist.

If you find that your dog isn’t particularly fond of getting smooches, go give them some pets! Read about the long-lasting benefits of petting dogs here.

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