Who doesn’t love a big sloppy kiss from their K9 best friend? It’s a sweet and comforting feeling when your dog is trying to express their affection for you, but wait - is that actually what they are doing when they're licking you? Could they actually have another motive for giving you a big, sloppy lick? Turns out, they might!
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Signs Your Dog is Showing Affection
If your dog is excited to see you or trying to show you affection, they might do a few other things besides licking you. You might notice their body perk up, including their ears. They might wag their tail and run over to you. They might also sniff you and try to jump up on you. Some dogs are more reserved and might simply greet you with a tail wag and then walk away - it depends on your pup!
A few other things dogs have been known to do to show affection include cuddling with you, trying to play with you, and even smiling at you. Wait, smiling? Can dogs smile?
Sometimes dogs open their mouth and show their teeth in a playful way, and it resembles a smile. It’s pretty cute. Aside from that, cuddles from your pup can be one of the best parts about having a dog, and we’ve taken cuddles to mean that your dog is showing affection. Dogs also love to play with people they love, and they might even do a play bow if they are happy and are very eager to play a game.
- Jumping up
- Wag tail
- Ears up
- Cuddling with you
- Playing with you
- "Smiling" at you
History of Dogs and Kissing
Historically speaking, there isn’t a lot written about kissing earlier than 1500 B.C. according to people.howstuffworks.com. Kissing was written about in ancient texts from India, but as the website points out, that doesn’t mean that there wasn’t kissing before that in other parts of the world. It may simply have been too risque for artists and writers way back in the day.
According to Psychology Today, kissing does not happen in every culture, and it may actually be derived from what we may find to be a strange practice. Some people think that kissing actually comes from when a mother would chew up food for her babies and feed it to them from her mouth.
There are other theories behind kissing, but that seems to be the one that relates the most to some species of animals. As for dogs kissing their owners, we think of their kissing as licks rather than using their lips. There isn’t anything about dogs and kissing in history. However, it is interesting that whenever a dog licks a person, someone always seems to remark, “They're giving you kisses!”
Science Behind Dogs Kissing
To touch more on dogs licking people, they could be showing you affection, or it might be something else entirely. Dogs might lick you because of instinct or habit, but a popular theory is that they like the salt or flavors on your skin. So, if you each chicken wings, and then greet your dog, they might lick your hands and face because of the sauce on your face and hands - not necessarily because they want to give you a “kiss.”According to Pedigree.com, dogs actually use licking as a way to communicate with other dogs. So, a dog might be licking themselves or other dogs to keep them clean. Puppies might lick their mother’s lips because they want food. So, it’s important to keep context in mind when your dog licks you. Pedigree.com also mentions that if you’re interacting with your dog, and they lick you, they might want some food, or they might be greeting you.
Training Your Dog to Give (or Not Give) You Kisses
So, can you train your dog to give you “kisses?” Probably. Pedigree.com mentions that dogs thrive off positive reinforcement. So, if your dog licks you, and you give them a treat, they'll learn that’s a behavior they get rewarded for. So, they'll continue to do it.
It is interesting that some dog owners also don’t like dogs to lick them. So, they train them to not lick or jump up on people. Some people send their dog to a dog trainer for this. However, Animal Planet suggests something similar to Pedigree. They say that if your dog starts to lick you, and you don’t want them to, simply get up and leave the room. Eventually, your dog will learn that licking means that you’ll leave, which they don’t want.
So, are dogs licks really kisses? We’re not sure. They might be, or they might just be their way of communicating other things. You’ll have to be the judge.
How to React to Your Dog "Kissing" You:
Understand that they might be being affectionate - or you might need a shower because you're a bit more sweaty than usual!
If you do not like your dog to lick you, leave the room each time they do.
If you do enjoy doggy kisses, give lots of pets and praise when they do this.