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Do Dogs Feel Happy When You Kiss Them? Facts & FAQ

Written by: Chantelle Fowler

Last Updated on June 27, 2024 by Dogster Team

Dog licking woman's ear

Do Dogs Feel Happy When You Kiss Them? Facts & FAQ

As humans, we show affection to the people we love through words and physical actions like hugging and kissing. Since our pets can’t understand our verbal proclamations of love, we sometimes inundate them with physical affection, hoping that they’ll understand just how much we love them by smothering them with kisses. But do dogs understand what our kisses mean, or are they uncomfortable when we shower them with love?

While dogs are incapable of understanding human kisses and the reasons for them, they do associate them with feelings of affection. Read on to learn more.

dogster paw dividerDo Dogs Understand Kisses?

It is not in a dog’s DNA to understand the behaviors that humans exhibit when they’re happy or in love. Your dog’s wild ancestors didn’t see humans kissing each other, nor did they ever receive kisses from people in the wild.

This is why your newborn puppy may not immediately understand what it is you’re doing when you shower them with kisses. The same applies to dogs that have been abused in the past. They have never been shown affection, so kisses or affection of any kind are new to them. Over time, however, most dogs will begin to associate your kisses with positive feelings.

Many dog owners will use a high-pitched or gentle tone when they’re showing affection toward their pets. Dogs will eventually learn to associate these tones with kisses and cuddles. So, while dogs are unable to understand the nuanced nature of how we express love as humans, many will understand that kisses are a positive expression.

chinook dog licking face
Image By: Holisticdogtraining, Pixabay

Is It Safe to Kiss My Dog?

Most dogs will tolerate kisses from their family members well and will learn to associate kisses with love and affection. That said, this rule does not apply to every dog, and some dogs may not understand that kisses equal love. Some may feel afraid or threatened when you approach them, and they could even bite you.

That said, you know your dog best. If they have ever shown signs of aggression in the past or if you’ve rescued them and don’t know what their past was like, it’s best to approach kisses carefully. You need to create a strong bond with your pup before you start showing physical signs of affection.

Does My Dog Like My Kisses?

Some dogs will like getting kisses while others will not. There are certain body language cues that you can look for to determine whether your dog appreciates you smothering them with kisses.

Common Signs Your Dog Enjoys Your Kisses

  • Jumping up on you
  • Acting excited
  • Wagging their tail
  • Looking alert
  • Licking your face
  • Running around
  • Nuzzling up to you

There are also warning signs that your dog will display if they are not interested in receiving physical affection from you.

male owner hugging his dog
Image Credit: Lizardflms, Shutterstock

Common Signs Your Dog Is Not Interested in Kisses

  • Tensing up
  • Ears going back
  • Eyes open wide
  • Tail tucking
  • Ducking away
  • Growling
  • Drawn-back lips

dogster paw dividerHow Does My Dog Tell Me That They Love Me?

If dogs can’t use words, kisses, or hugs to tell us that they love us, how do they show us affection? There are several behaviors that dogs exhibit to subtly tell you that they love you.

  • They sleep near you. Since your dog’s wild ancestors slept in packs next to one another, if your pup chooses to sleep next to you, they’re telling you that they love and trust you.
  • They seek you out for physical contact. If your dog comes up to you for cuddles or leans up against you, they’re subtly telling you that they trust you. Resist the urge to trap them in a tight hug when they start showing this behavior, though.
  • They’re excited to see you. The ultimate display of love comes in the form of excitement. When you walk in the door at the end of your workday to your dog running up to you with their tail wagging, you know they’ve spent the entire day missing you.
  • They share their toys. Dogs grow quite fond of their toys, so when your pooch presents you with their favorite stuffed bear, take it as a sign of affection.
  • They make eye contact. For dogs, making eye contact is a very intimate act and the ultimate display of trust. When your dog looks at you, their brain releases the love hormone oxytocin, which is linked to positive emotional states.
happy african woman with her pet dog
Image Credit: Dean Drobot, Shutterstock

How Do Dogs Communicate?

Dogs don’t communicate with each other the way we do as humans. Friendly dogs know to approach each other from the side instead of head-on. They often don’t make eye contact with one another and will sniff each other out before deciding to play with each other.

Dogs rely heavily on body language and vocalizations to communicate with one another. Their posture, tail, facial expression, and eyes can tell a lot about a dog’s personality and willingness to be in certain situations. Their fur can even fluff up (piloerection) when aroused.

When we kiss our dogs, we don’t approach them in the way that they’d be approached by other dogs. In fact, when we go in for a smooch, we’re often displaying the exact opposite behavior that they’d expect. We’ll make direct eye contact and approach them straight on. If dogs were to treat each other this way, it could be misconstrued as aggressive.

Dogster_Signs of a Happy Dog_Infographic_v1-2 FINAL_Mar 13 2024
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dogster paw dividerFinal Thoughts

While dogs may not ever understand what kisses mean, most will eventually learn that kisses are a positive message from their humans.

Does your dog feel happy when you kiss them? It depends on the dog, but if you notice any positive feedback post-kiss, it’s safe to say that your dog appreciates it (and you).

Featured Image Credit: Lubo Ivanko, Shutterstock

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