Kissing on the mouth is a very natural behavior for dogs. They first started to learn this behavior when they were puppies and their mothers ‘kissed’ them on the mouth as part of the mothering and bonding action taken with their litter. That all sounds very sweet and sentimental, and it is endearing. However, those mothering mouth kisses mean more than just a loving lick between a puppy and its parent. Dogs learn from kissing on the mouth about where you have been, what you have been doing, and who else you may have seen along the way. Dogs' mouths and noses are very sensitive, and dogs use their sense of taste and smell to find out all kinds of useful information. Kissing on the mouth is a part of grooming and socializing and it is pleasurable for dogs to lick or kiss as we perceive it. Slobbery kisses may not be our ideal way to communicate, but your dog loves to shower you with kisses.
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The Root of the Behavior
A long, sloppy kiss on the mouth from your dog is a way of showing you affection and seeing if you taste nice in the process. A series of short little licks around the mouth is more about gathering information. When your dog licks the area around your face, he can also channel the smell of you into his nose and olfactory system to get a good sense of who you might have been with recently. He could be assessing if you have just eaten, and as his ancestors did in the wild, he could decide if you may have had a good meal. Licking is pleasurable to dogs and so a gentle lick around your mouth is something your dog enjoys, even if you don’t share the feeling. If your dog is the nurturing kind, then he could just be grooming you and showing respect for the pack leader by submitting and paying attention to you. In the wild, the subordinate dogs lick the alpha of the pack on the mouth to show their respect and find out if the next meal is in the offing.
Kissing or licking on the mouth is a sociable activity. Dogs would have to be on friendly terms with each other to give a caring lip lick or kiss as we see it. Getting close to lips and teeth would be a dangerous action if the dogs involved were not on good terms. There are occasions when a good slobbery kiss on the lips could be used to deter the invasion of body space. Your dog could use a big slobbery kiss as a polite way of getting you to back off if you are invading his personal space. Dogs don’t like to have your face pushed up to theirs in a show of dominance. They may have learned that a good slobbery kiss will push an overzealous dog lover away. There are always strict codes of conduct in the canine world about body space and eye contact or sudden movements. There are some dogs that would rather not share kisses with you.
Encouraging the Behavior
Excessive licking can become an obsessive behavior, and this is something you will want to discourage. If you notice your dog is going around licking everything, including you, without stopping then it could be time to check in with an animal behaviorist. It is wise to find out if your dog has some obsessive-compulsive disorder that involves licking. Watch your dog carefully and decide how serious this behavior is. Never punish your dog for an obsessive behavior because it may be caused by anxiety and the punishment will simply make things worse.
Look out for social causes of anxiety that could be making your dog communicate with you via lip kisses or licking at inappropriate times. There are several social reasons that could make your dog feel insecure. A change of residence, new addition to the family, or early warnings of an illness could be a few possibilities. If you are concerned, seek the help of your vet or an animal behaviorist. When a natural instinctive behavior becomes obsessive then it is important to find a cause for the inappropriate behavior. Your dog is communicating with you as best he can to say, "Please help, I am not feeling quite as I should."
Other Solutions and Considerations
Kissing on the mouth is your dog’s natural way of showing affection. It is up to you to decide if you want to encourage this or not. Make your own personal boundaries so that you don’t confuse your dog with mixed messages. Dogs just want to make you happy and know how you are when you come home. Your little Chihuahua can hop onto your lap and kiss you on the mouth quite comfortably. This would be a lot more challenging for a Great Dane. Simply have a greeting code of hand licks if that is preferable and more manageable than a kiss on the lips.
Giving you a loving kiss on the mouth is your dog’s all-time high moment of the day. According to Labra-law, kisses on the mouth are what dogs are born to give. Labradors and other lovable breeds just want to show their love for you with a slurpy smooch. So, go ahead and keep within the Labra-law. Make your dog’s day and your own with a big kiss on the mouth, a sign of affection from your dog.