Can Dogs Understand Human Kisses?

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It seems out of the question that dogs may just tolerate our affections when we are greeted as we come home from work or snuggled before we go to sleep. But the reality is that this may very well be the case!  

Have you ever wondered if your dogs can conceive of kisses as a sign of affection, or do they simply accept them as a strange quirk we humans have? Although dogs are highly perceptive of our emotions, do they understand kisses as we do or is it the equivalent of licking? 

In this article, we will explore all the signs that suggest dogs do understand our kisses, and signals to observe when they are not receptive.

Introduction of Can Dogs Understand Human Kisses?

Signs Your Dog Understands a Smooch:

Depending on the temperament of the dog, they will react in different ways to your kisses. For the most part, dogs are quite receptive to humans. There are a few signs to pick up on when giving your dog kisses to make sure that they are not uncomfortable.  

If a dog is receptive to kisses, they may jump up on you when you beckon to them. Making kiss noises will get your dogs attention, and they will likely listen to you with their head tilted. It is important to ensure the dog puts forth body language that suggests they are both engaged and relaxed. The dog does not necessarily need to be jumping off the walls to be receptive to kisses.

Some dogs may be so happy to receive kisses that they wag their tail, but not all dogs will. If the dog's tail is between its legs, reading as shaky and nervous, it is not wise to try and kiss the dog. 

In severe circumstances, dogs will not want their personal space invaded. You can tell a dog is not receptive or understanding of kisses when it growls or retreats from human touch. These are the body language signs that you must be aware of before kissing a dog, as a violation of the animal's personal space may result in aggressive behavior like biting or growling.  

Body Language

Body Language to Look Out For: 

  • Head tilting
  • Listening
  • Jumping up
  • Wag tail

Other Signs

Here are some other signs that your dog wants a kiss:
  • Licking
  • Getting excited

A Brief History

History of Can Dogs Understand Human Kisses?
The question of whether dogs can understand human kisses likely dates back to the point at which they were domesticated, nearly 15,000 years ago. Granted, humans back then had bigger worries to attend to, but this question is a natural one to impose.  

Even more mysterious than the impulse humans feel to kiss their animals like their own children is the dog's conception of that sort of affection. 

To further explore the question, we must first dissect it in the context of when humans first started kissing their dogs. It should also be noted that this phenomenon may very well be a cultured trend stemming from the proclivities of most developed nations to treat animals like family members as opposed to tools for farming or security.  

There is a range of actions deemed both appropriate and inappropriate when discussing how we physically interact with our dogs that have changed over time. Some do not believe in kissing their dogs, allowing dogs to sleep in their beds, or attributing this human-like sense of awareness and comprehension to their animals.  

There are countless news stories conflicting with one another on the subject because all too often, the dog's day-to-day feelings affect its reception to kisses. Having dogs that react with wagging tails contrasting against growling ones plastered all over social media platforms makes it difficult to distinguish the understanding of kisses from a dog's general dimeanor. 

The Science Behind a Dog's Love

Science of Can Dogs Understand Human Kisses?
Despite the timelessness of this question,  it is only recently that studies have been able to observe dogs brains in their interactions with their masters.  

With the new and developing technology of imaging in the medical field, researchers have been able to take photos of dogs' brains in several scenarios to measure stimulation. This is hugely important in investigating the answer to this question because it provides tangible evidence of a dog's response to human affection, food, scolding, and other stimuli. At Emory University, a team of neuroscientists set out to confirm that our dogs do love us as much as we love them.

Using MRI technology, these researchers found that dogs respond to food and our affectionate touches or praises equally, if not more so favoring affection. This response is unique for a number of reasons, but the most astonishing is how demonstrable it is of a dog's fierce loyalty.  

Few animals are likely to have the same degree of satisfaction measured solely from interactions with human beings. Though some bias in the study can be detected because the owners of the dogs were sometimes utilized, the general principle stands that dogs can understand human kisses.  

Training a Dog to Understand Kisses

Training of Can Dogs Understand Human Kisses?
There are several training options for both dogs who cannot get enough kisses and those that seem to think kisses are a manifestation of Satan himself. 

First, for those well-behaved and receptive dogs, it's important to stay calm, as our energy seems palpable to those around us. This calm energy is sometimes the extra push needed for those dogs that are skittish and wary of human beings.  

If the dog is high-energy in response to understanding kisses, training them to stay down and off of people is valuable. Most important to training a dog to understand human kisses is exposure. As with children, dogs learn the most in their first years.   

If the dog is exposed to loads of kisses and physical contact in its formative years, it is going to be much more likely for that dog to be trained in the comprehension of human affection.  Exposure to kisses not only normalizes the experience for the dog, making it much easier to keep the dog receptive to kisses.  

Always ask before petting. In order to avoid any consequences of broken boundaries, ensuring interaction with the animal is absolutely necessary. While the dog may tolerate a lot of poking and prodding, it is highly advisable not to kiss them on their muzzle. Not only is this quite an intimidating experience for the dog, but creates a dangerous vantage point should the dog get aggressive.  

Reactions when kissing a pooch:

  • Remain calm & maintain calm energy
  • Firmly keep dogs from jumping up
  • Acclimate the dog to touch as early as possible

Safety Tips While Kissing a Pooch:

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    Always ask before petting
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    Never kiss the muzzle