To us humans, a small kiss on the cheek or head is a gesture of affection.
As a result, it’s not uncommon to see dog owners show affection to their dogs through hugs and kisses.
But do dogs perceive kisses and hugs as signs of love and affection? How to tell if a dog doesn’t want to be kissed or hugged? Are dog licks the same as kisses? And, is it sanitary or safe to kiss a dog on the mouth? Stay tuned to find out in this video.
It’s a natural human reaction to want to kiss those we love. So it makes sense we might do the same for our beloved pets.
However, it is important to remember that dogs are very different species with their own methods of communication.
Within the parameters of canine body language, kissing and hugging don’t exist.
When a dog is kissed, it means bringing our face very close to the dog’s face, and this is something that puts dogs in a very vulnerable position.
From a dog’s perspective, putting our face close to their faces and plastering them a kiss on the nose, mouth or forehead, may be perceived as a threat.
Likewise, when we hug a dog, we wrap our arms around them which can make them feel vulnerable and generate a feeling of being trapped. A dog who doesn’t fully trust you may interpret a gesture of affection of this kind as an invasion of their space.
How to kiss your dog properly so they know you love them?
As we’ve already explained, if you have a newly adopted dog, they will not yet understand your hugs and kisses, and may become stressed and confused. With time however, dogs may learn to associate kisses and hugs as a display of affection. This can be done if the kisses are accompanied by gentle strokes, expressions of joy, and tasty rewards. After the repeated pairing with petting and affectionate tones in the voice of the owner, dogs may go beyond tolerating kisses into liking everything that surrounds the kissing experience. The dog may grow to accept and recognize kisses as a sign of love, and your pet may even respond by licking you back.
Licking is an instinctual dog behavior. It is a trait they carry out from the time they’re puppies. And it’s motivated by several impulses.
Mother dogs will often lick their puppies to keep them clean and give them comfort. When your dog licks you, it’s their way of grooming you and showing they care about your wellbeing. It’s a sign of love and affection and a great way to bond.
Dogs also use their tongue to explore the world through scent and taste. By licking your face, your dog can find out a lot of information about you. With dogs who accept kisses as a sign of affection, licking is the way they can reciprocate the favor. This is why when your dog greets you when you come home, they may try to lick your face. Your dog is showing you affection, but they are also finding out information about you.
Is it unhygienic to kiss a dog on the mouth?
There’s great debate whether it is okay and safe to kiss a dog.
Most of the bacteria in a dog’s mouth prefer a dog to be the host, which means kissing your dog is less risky than kissing a human, but that does not mean there are no risks.
Dogs don’t brush their teeth. They eat things off the ground or out of the garbage bin. They may also raid the litterbox. Many of these bacteria are zoonotic, meaning that they can transmit from canine to human.
On the other hand, some state that the negative effects of these bacteria can be reduced or nullified in people who have a strong immune system.
This means kissing a dog is bad depending on the type of bacteria present in that dog, and the health of the person who kisses the dog.
How to tell if a dog doesn’t want to be kissed or hugged
A dog who doesn’t want to be kissed will show their stress by leaning away, looking away, pursing and licking their lips. They often tense up and stop wagging their tail. They may even hunch over or reveal their teeth as a warning that they do not like what is happening to them
If your pooch wags its tail, licks you, races around and shows excited behavior when you kiss them, it is a sign they enjoy the kissing or hugging experience.
Showing your dog affection the right way
There are many ways to show your dog affection beyond kisses or hugs.
Most dogs are a big fan of being close to their owners, so you can show them love and affection with cuddles, pets, and a loving voice. Exercising together is also a great way to bond.
You can also try teaching your dog some fun tricks. Those treat-filled training sessions can be very enjoyable for dogs and will reinforce the bond you share.
Remember, when dogs lean their body weight against you, they are showing you affection.
One way to tell your dog you love them is to lean into them – and let them lean on you. Just the right amount of lean will demonstrate that you love them.And perhaps the best way to show your dog affection is to simply give them attention.
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