Do Dogs Like Kisses? What to Know Before Smooching Your Pup (2023)

Our pups are the cutest and sweetest things in our world, so naturally, we want to express our love by giving them oodles ofdog cuddles, belly rubs, scratches and smooches. They clearly like being petted, but do dogs like kisses—or even understand what they are?

“Dogs aren’t born into this world knowing what a kiss from a human means,” says Rachel Salant, an animal behavior specialist at And when a dog licks you back, it may be a sign that they love you or something else altogether.

Like with so many things, we tend to forget that our dogs aren’t our actual babies and aren’t necessarily on board with certain kinds of human affection. That doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t like kisses … though it doesn’t necessarily mean they do either. We asked dog behaviorexperts to settle the debate once and for all.

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Do dogs like kisses?

“Whether or not a dog tolerates or even enjoys kisses from a human depends on the individual dog, his or her upbringing, and what he or she has learned from the experiences with people being very close to the face,” says Salant. When kisses are associated with other things dogs love, like petting and scratches in their favorite spots, a dog associates kissing with something good. Some dogs aren’t comfortable with this type of interaction, though.

That said, while dogs often connect the dots and learn that kisses also come with other favorable things, they don’t understand kissing as a token of affection. “If you think about it, dogs don’t do this to each other out of affection, so they probably don’t understand it from us,” says Valarie Tynes, DVM, a veterinary behaviorist at the SPCA of Texas.

(Video) Do Dogs Understand Hugs and Kisses?

You’ll know if your dog is into kisses by checking out his body language. If he’s wagging his tail, moving closer to you for more affection or kissing you back, says Salant, those are all signs that your smooches are doggy-approved.

What do dogs think human kisses are?

Dogs might not understand that a kiss means “I love you,” but they quickly catch on that a kiss is something favorable. “In general, we aren’t upset with our dogs when we go to kiss them, so they learn that a kiss from a human is a good thing,” says Salant. They associate kisses with the other positive elements that coincide with them. After all, we are usually talking in a happy, calm or loving voice before we kiss our dog, and we’re petting them or scratching them behind the ear and may even toss them a treat afterward.

So, do dogs like kisses, or is it the good stuff that comes with them? “It may not be the kiss, in particular, that they like,” says Salant, “but the belly rubs that come with the kiss.”

Why do dogs yawn or sneeze when you kiss them?

Dogs yawn and sneeze for both physical and psychological reasons. For example, they could be tired, or they could be sensitive to your shampoo or hairspray and sneeze when you get close. As for the psychological aspect, do dogs like kisses if they yawn or sneeze afterward? “Ultimately, it comes down to knowing and understanding each individual dog,” Salant says. The sneezing could be interpreted as comfortable, attention-seeking or even play behavior, so that would likely be a yes.

If your dog yawns after a kiss and he isn’t sleepy, however, it’s likely a type of displacement behavior—which describes a behavior that seems out of context when they’re feeling uncomfortable or anxious about an interaction and don’t know what to do. “Think of it as a little like fidgeting,” says Dr. Tynes of this similar human behavior. “If your dog yawns a lot when you get in its face, I would definitely assume that means the dog doesn’t like your being in their face,” says Dr. Tynes. And following that logic, your pup is politely telling you he probably doesn’t want to be kissed.

Are dog licks their version of kisses?

Do Dogs Like Kisses? What to Know Before Smooching Your Pup (1)Kosamtu/Getty Images

We sure like to think so! We adore their slobbery kisses on our faces when they greet us or while we’re snuggling with them, but what does it mean when a dog licks us? That depends on where the dog licks you, Dr. Tynes says. “When dogs lick your face or mouth, it can be what is called appeasement,” she explains. “It’s one of the ways they ‘keep the peace’ in a group.” That doesn’t mean they’re reacting to tension in the room because they think you’re angry with them—they’re just maintaining the bond between you in the cutest way possible.

(Video) Does your Pet Dog Likes to Get Kissed? Should You Kiss your Pet Dog?

On the other hand, when dogs randomly lick other body parts—like our hands, arms, legs and feet—it’s likely the salty taste of our skin, food we’ve touched or something else they find appealing to lick. “Just remember that these are animals that like the way poop tastes, so it is hard for us to relate to what they find tasty!” Dr. Tynes says.

Do dogs kiss one another?

It’s super cute to see dogs “kissing,” but unlike the budding romance between Lady and the Tramp, affection isn’t the motive for exchanging licks. When dogs “kiss” each other, it is similar to the appeasement behavior when kissing humans. You might see this play out at the dog park when two dogs are in a scuffle, and 10 minutes later they’re exchanging smooches. “It’s like a dog saying, ‘Please don’t be angry. Let’s make up,'” says Dr. Tynes.

Dogs also occasionally groom one another, licking around the face and ears. This is called allogrooming, and it’s very common in the animal world (including with cats) because it is mutually beneficial and helps to establish and maintain social bonds. The same goes for mama dogs caring for their newborns. The mother will lick her puppies to clean them, stimulate them to eat and even prompt them to go to the bathroom. Sure, it’s caring behavior, but again, none of it is kissing, per se.

What are some signs you shouldn’t kiss a dog?

Even the most affectionate and easygoing dog breeds have their limits when it comes to human affection. It’s important to remember every dog is an individual, and some simply tolerate affection more than others. This may also change depending on their mood and how they’re feeling physically. The good news is that all dogs will give us subtle clues—with their facial expressions, ways they move their tail and other body language—to signal when they don’t want to be kissed or hugged.

“When we ignore these polite messages the dog sends, then sometimes the dog will eventually feel the need to communicate more clearly,” says Dr. Tynes. “And that may mean a growl, snap or bite.”

Here are the telltale signs you should keep your lips to yourself:

  • Yawning
  • Looking away
  • Pulling away
  • Stiffening body position
  • Pinned-back ears
  • Tucked tail

If you see any of these warning signs, a dog is likely not interested in any type of affection. These polite cues are a dog’s way of saying, “I am really uncomfortable with this,” says Dr. Tynes.

(Video) Do DOGS Like KISSES? 🐶👄¡This Is The Truth!

Are there certain spots you should avoid when kissing your dog?

Yes. Generally speaking, dogs find close facial contact threatening, so you should avoid kissing dogs on their face, nose and top of the head, says Dr. Tynes.In addition to the close proximity, we tend to grab their face and makedirect eye contact before we give them a smooch, and these are both potentially problematic for our pups.“Dogs tend to find direct eye contact to be threatening, so getting in a dog’s face can increase their fear and anxiety,” says Dr. Tynes. While that may seemodd becausedogs always stare at us with those big puppy-dog eyes, they have an ulterior motive for that behavior. Over time, dogs have learned that staring at us and looking adorableis very effective for communicating they want our food or attention.

You should also forgo kisses on sensitive areas like your pup’s paws and belly. Dogs might snap when you overly stimulate these spots.

Do dogs like hugs?

When you’re contemplating whether dogs like kisses, you have to wonder about kissing’s counterpart: hugs. Do dogs like hugs as much as they love a good belly rub? “Some dogs become used to being hugged or kissed and tolerate it, but it’s a rare dog that truly enjoys this kind of interaction,” says Dr. Tynes. That’s because hugging typically involves wrapping yourself around their body, which feels like you’re restraining them. Even though that’s certainly not your intention, it can make your dog feel anxious, stressed or fearful.

As much as we may want to hug our pups, we should take a step back and think about how they feel first. Dogs likely don’t comprehend this type of interaction because it’s not something they do with other dogs. “Unfortunately, a lot of people have the attitude that a dog should do whatever we want and put up with it,” says Dr. Tynes, “but that is not a very respectful way to treat our best friend.”

What are other ways to show your dog that you love them?

We get it. It’s a kind of buzzkill to fathom that hugging and kissing rank high on the list of things you do that your dog actually hates, but luckily there are plenty of other ways to give your dog attention and show them how much you love them if they’re not into hugs and kisses. Obviously, you can cuddle with them, pet them, play games, dole out treats and buy a cart full of doggy toys. But strengthening your relationship by learning to interpret your dog’s body language and understanding what they’re trying to tell you is the most thoughtful way to show your love.

Next, find the answer to another canine mystery: why dogs get the zoomies.


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(Video) Do Dogs Understand Kisses?


Do puppies understand human kisses? ›

Do Dogs Like Being Kissed? Really, the first question to ask is whether dogs understand kisses from people. It turns out that while dogs are pretty good at recognizing human emotions, they don't instinctively know what kisses are.

What do puppies think when you kiss them? ›

When you kiss your dog, you may notice signs that indicate they know that the kiss is a gesture of affection. As puppies, this is not something that dogs would recognize, although they would feel you doing it. However, as they get older they associate the kisses and cuddles with you being happy with them.

Does my puppy like it when I kiss him? ›

People know that a kiss is a natural way to show affection to other people, but we sometimes forget that our dogs are not human. You may be surprised to learn that many dogs actually dislike this common human behavior.

When you kiss your dog do they know what it means? ›

Many dog owners talk to their dogs in a cute or gentle manner when they are kissing them. The dog then learns to associate the kisses with a warmer tone, meaning they might respond accordingly. So while dogs do not understand what kisses really mean, they can eventually learn to realize they are positive messages.

Do dogs understand kisses like humans? ›

They want to hug them and smooch them as they do with their toys. According to Animal Behaviorists, 'dogs don't understand human kisses the same way that humans do. ' When kissing a young puppy, you may not notice any signs of recognition at all because they have yet to associate kisses with affection.

Do dogs like to be hugged and kissed? ›

Experts in dog behavior believe that, in general, dogs do not like being embraced. However, every dog has a unique personality. Some may dislike hugs more strongly than others, and some may actually adore them. The closest thing our furry family members do to a hug is something referred to as 'standing over'.

Do dogs know we love them? ›

Yes, your dog knows how much you love him! Dogs and humans have a very special relationship, where dogs have hijacked the human oxytocin bonding pathway normally reserved for our babies. When you stare at your dog, both your oxytocin levels go up, the same as when you pet them and play with them.

Why does my puppy growl at me when I kiss her? ›

It is typical for some dogs to act protective and be wary when somebody approaches their owner. Generally, this results in barking, growling, and perhaps even some snarling. Oftentimes, however, dogs that are perceived as protective are simply insecure and anxious.

Where is the best place to kiss a dog? ›

As with real estate, kissing a pet is all about location, location, location. If you and your dog are healthy, it's probably fine to get licked here and there. However, the experts concur that a peck on the top of the head is the safest route for most pets.

Why does my puppy cry when I kiss him? ›

The Root of the Behavior

While kissing and hugging come naturally to us as a form of expressing our love, it can cause your dog to have a panic attack. Kissing can give him serious stress. If your actions, as much as they are well intended, make him feel anxious in any way, then he will start to whine or cry.

Do dogs like being under blankets? ›

Dogs love sleeping under the covers for a variety of reasons, from instinctual to entertainment. If your furry best friend sleeps with you at night, then your bed has his scent, making him feel like he owns it. He may burrow into the blankets because it feels like a safe den.

How do you tell if your dog loves you? ›

Five signs your dog loves you
  • Soft eye contact. Eye contact can mean many things, but dogs are naturally quite hesitant to make eye contact. ...
  • Tail wagging. Your dog's tail can display a whole range of emotions and a wag from them doesn't always necessarily mean they are happy. ...
  • Cuddling (on their terms) ...
  • Happy greeting.

Do dogs pick a favorite person? ›

Like humans, dogs are especially impressionable as their brains develop, so puppies up to 6 months old are in their key socialization period. Like their human counterparts, dogs develop favorite people over time based on positive experiences and positive associations with that person.

How do you tell if your dog loves you the most? ›

Here are some indicators that your dog really does love you for more than a fresh bag of kibble and a walk in the park:
  • Your dog is happy to see you. ...
  • Your dog gives you presents. ...
  • Your dog puts you second only to food. ...
  • Your dog likes to sleep with you. ...
  • Your dog looks at you with loving eyes.

Why do dogs close their eyes when you kiss them? ›

Your dog closes his eyes when he licks because licking feels good. Licking releases endorphins, the feel-good hormone, and allows him a release of tension and stress. When he licks himself, you, or another dog, he feels good and this is perfectly normal.

Why does my dog try to bite my face when I kiss him? ›

While some dogs have learned to accept or even enjoy the kind of attention their owners give them, others may not like being hugged, because they may feel restrained and/or “trapped.” When we kiss them, they may bite to get away from us or to keep our “threatening” faces from getting too close to theirs.

Do dogs know when you hug them? ›

Dogs don't know what a hug is because it conflicts with their own body language. Your dog might understand you mean them no harm, but the conflicting signals can still make them uncomfortable. There are better ways of showing your dog you love them rather than a hug.

Why do dogs put their paw on you? ›

Why is my dog putting his paws on me? In addition to a way to say "I love you," your dog might paw at you if it needs something like food or a potty break. Anxious dogs might also paw at you for comfort or to request some space. Other dogs may paw at you to signify they need some activity time.

How do I tell my dog I'm sorry? ›

How Should You Say Sorry to Your Dog?
  1. Don't shout or raise your voice.
  2. A pat on the head or back will go a long way.
  3. You can ruffle its furs or carry it in your arms.
  4. You can use soothing words or phrases.
  5. Give your dog its favorite treat.

How do you know when your puppy has bonded with you? ›

Signs of a Strong Bond

There's no mistaking a dog who feels a real emotional connection with you. There's a real light in their eyes; they smile, wag, rub into you, and makes great eye contact. When you come home, they brighten up, becomes animated, and may even vocalize their joy.

Do dogs like to sleep with you? ›

Once you bring a dog into your home, you become part of their pack. They enjoy sleeping with you because it makes them feel safe and comfortable. Sleeping together gives dogs an emotional connection to their owners. Dogs feel love and gratitude towards you, just like you feel towards them.

Why do dogs curl up next to you? ›

When your dog cuddles up with you, they are acknowledging that you are a member of its pack. It's a sign of affection, closeness, and connection, and your 'furkid' is saying that it feels safe to be with you. It's a continuation of the bonding process that began when you and your dog first met each other.

Can I kiss my dog on the head? ›

To be safe, you should not kiss dogs on their heads. Most dogs, at best, tolerate humans kissing them.

What words do dogs love? ›

Top 5 words dogs love to hear the most
  • Walkies.
  • Dinner/food/eat.
  • Treat.
  • Get it.
  • Fetch.
Jan 14, 2021

Do dogs know their name? ›

The short answer is yes, dogs do know their names. On average, dogs can understand 165 words. More intelligent dogs can learn 250 words. If your dog is trained to recognize their name as such, they understand that you are speaking to them specifically when you use it.

Does my dog think I'm his mom? ›

So, yes, a puppy can definitely think of you as his “mother” — that is, his provider and protector — and develop as strong an emotional bond with you as if you were blood-related. Your puppy will also quickly learn to pick you out among strangers, both by sight and through his powerful sense of smell.

Why does my dog go crazy when he sees me? ›

So, what makes a dog so darned excited when we come back home? It's probable that pups have not learned to accept voluntary detachment. Pups cannot think in abstract concepts like humans and therefore, their emotions are more extreme. Happy when we are around and sad when we are not.

Why does my dog stare at me? ›

Just as humans stare into the eyes of someone they adore, dogs will stare at their owners to express affection. In fact, mutual staring between humans and dogs releases oxytocin, known as the love hormone. This chemical plays an important role in bonding and boosts feelings of love and trust.

Why does my dog hump me when I hug my husband? ›

Humping behaviour is often a sign of energy arousal in dogs. They may be playing a game with you and when you settle down or ignore them, they begin to hump your leg or a nearby cushion. This is an energy release and, while it does little harm, it can be annoying for owners.

What breed of dog gives the most kisses? ›

Also known for its loving nature, the Golden Retriever is commonly used for therapy work due to its friendly attitude toward everyone, even strangers. They definitely top the list of dog breeds that give the most kisses.

Where do dogs like to be touched the most? ›

For example, most dogs prefer being touched with long gentle strokes along the chest, shoulder and base of the tail. While some dogs have other places they enjoy a gentle fuss, such as along their ears.

What can I do instead of hugging my dog? ›

"Alternative ways to express affection include giving them treats, playing with them, and of course giving them praise," she says. And if your pet likes to be touched—but not hugged—spend time petting them slowly or brushing their hair to shower them with attention.

Can you cuddle your dog too much? ›

Just like humans, dogs are social creatures that don't like being alone. Giving them company all the time could spell trouble, since they might learn to be too dependent on you. At its worst, a dog that is too used to the constant company of its paw-rent could develop a case of separation anxiety.

Why do dogs hate when humans hug? ›

First, closeness between people can confuse a dog. Hugs, for instance, are abnormal in the canine world and can be viewed by dogs as threatening. Dogs may also view intimacy as play, which means they want to play, too.

Why do dogs sleep with their bum facing you? ›

If your dog does this, it means they trust you. And, if they keep their bum toward your face, it shows that you make them feel safe. Your dog also wants to keep you safe and secure, which is why they plant their rumps where they do. This allows them to monitor the entire room and be ready for action if it's warranted.

Why do dogs press against you when they sleep? ›

As their pack leader, your pup sees you as their protector. So it stands to reason that he or she will want to stay right against the alpha for security and protection. Also, in a pack canines will sleep touching one another for warmth. Perhaps your fur baby just absolutely adores you, plain and simple.

Do dogs get cold at night? ›

It is possible for dogs to get cold at night, even if they're kept indoors. "If you think your dog is getting cold at night, consider giving him a cozy blanket to snuggle up to in bed. Most dogs will not feel cold at night or will seek out a warmer place if they do," says Satchu.

How do dogs know how much you love them? ›

Oxytocin is released for both you and your dog when you pet them, play with them, or look at each other. Studies have shown that dogs tend to lock eyes to show affection, so it's safe to say your dog feels the love when you're looking longingly at each other.

How do dogs show loyalty? ›

Dogs in the wild sleep as a pack which is a sign of loyalty. Also when a dog lives with or is good friends with another dog, they want to sleep together too – but only if they have permission. It's only natural for your dog to sleep with you since you are their family.

How do you know who your dog's favorite person is? ›

But most dogs tend to bond to the person who gives them the most attention. For example, in a family with two parents and two kids, the dog may favor the parent who fills their bowl every morning and takes them for a walk every evening. In addition, physical affection solidifies the bond between dog and person.

Do male dogs prefer female owners? ›

Dogs Prefer Adults — Particularly Women

A dog's preference for one person — or type of person — over another has a great deal to do with socialization. Dogs don't, as a rule, dislike men, but most dogs are cared for by women, and are thus more comfortable around them.

Can dogs sense a good person? ›

Dogs can sense when someone is a bad or good person. Your dog may not know the moral decisions a person has made, but he can pick up on signs of nervousness, fear, anger, and danger. Dogs notice specific things about humans that even other humans are not aware of.

Do dogs like the person who feeds them? ›

Early-life bonding

As a result, dogs typically form strong, lifelong bonds with whoever feeds, plays, and generally cares for them most often during this critical time. In cases where the person they bonded with is no longer around, a dog may still show favoritism toward people that are similar to them.

What do dogs don t like? ›

Generally, dogs dislike hugs, not being allowed to sniff, a lack of routine, and more. Even the most laid-back dog will hate some of the things we humans do—if they tolerate it, it's just because they love you or don't want to be dominant. Yes, certain things are unavoidable, like vet visits or grooming.

Why do dogs ask for belly rubs? ›

This calming sensation triggers a specific reaction in their brain that responds to hair follicle stimulation. Dogs, like humans, also release endorphins and oxytocin through methods of touch, so rubbing a dog's belly can help with bonding and affection. Ultimately, dogs like belly rubs because they feel good!

How does a dog decide where to sleep? ›

Many dogs choose a sleeping spot based on the fact that it smells like their owner, aka the pack leader. If this is your bed with you, great! If not, they'll choose a spot with your scent for the next best thing.

How do puppies show affection to humans? ›

Puppies often love their owners with play. They bring you gifts of their favorite toys and eagerly join in your game. Smiles are a sure sign of puppy love. Some dogs learn to "grin" by lifting their lips to illustrate a toothy smile to show their happiness and affection.

Do dogs understand when you say I love you? ›

But a new study, conducted by Canine Cottages, shows that dogs not only understand their humans, but also what the owners are saying; the study revealed that dogs' heart rates increased, on average, by 46 percent when their owners said “I love you” to their furry family members.

Do puppies understand affection? ›

Many owners out there wonder if their dogs can actually understand how much we love their smooshy little faces. Well, all you dog lovers out there, we have some good news! It turns out that our woofers actually can understand and feel emotions like affection, love, and excitement.

How do puppies pick their favorite person? ›

Dogs choose their favorite people based on positive interactions and socialization they have shared in the past. Like humans, dogs are especially impressionable as their brains develop, so puppies up to 6 months old are in their key socialization period.

How do you tell a puppy loves you? ›

Five signs your dog loves you
  1. Soft eye contact. Eye contact can mean many things, but dogs are naturally quite hesitant to make eye contact. ...
  2. Tail wagging. Your dog's tail can display a whole range of emotions and a wag from them doesn't always necessarily mean they are happy. ...
  3. Cuddling (on their terms) ...
  4. Happy greeting.

How do I know if my pup loves me? ›

Your dog might jump on you, lick your face, and they'll definitely wag their tail. Being excited and happy to see you is one way you can be assured they love and miss you. They seek physical contact. This can come in the form of a quick nuzzle, a cuddle, or the famous lean.

Does a dog trust you if they sleep on you? ›

Cuddles & Sleepy Snuggles 💤

Dogs choose to sleep where they feel most comfortable and at ease, so if your dog enjoys sleeping in your bed, or likes to snuggle up to you for a nap, they feel trust in you that they will be safe to do so.

Do dogs like being picked up? ›

Many dogs don't enjoy being held, some love it, many simply tolerate it. It is important to listen to what your dog likes and doesn't like. By forcing pets to tolerate or endure being picked up when they don't like it, we are essentially teaching them to not trust us – and the problem will get worse.

Do dogs like when you talk to them? ›

Do Dogs Like When You Talk to Them? Yes! Research published in Animal Cognition found that both puppies and adult dogs are attentive to the high-pitch voice we use with babies and the more even-toned language used with adults.

How do dogs say sorry? ›

One of the common ways your dog will try to say sorry is by making “puppy eyes” or tucking its tail between its legs. Avoiding eye contact and lowering their ears are also common ways for dogs to apologize.

Do dogs like blankets on them? ›

Dogs notoriously love their blankets. Whether it's at home or on the road, it gives them a place to snuggle up and be comfortable. No matter your lifestyle, this is an easy investment that every pet owner can make to improve the quality of life for their animal.


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