Does your dog kiss you? Do you like it? What does it mean? Is it safe? Let’s investigate.
As it turns out, there are a lot of reasons why a dog may kiss or lick you. According to Central Texas Vet Hospital, “Dog licking is a form of communication and stimulation for dogs. What we term "dog kisses" are an instinctual urge that starts at birth.”
According to dog trainer, Victoria Stilwell, “Right from birth that is how the mother communicates with her new puppies, how she stimulates them to start breathing and how she cleans them when they are born, so it's especially important to the survival of puppies. In the wild and in domestic dogs, you'll find they will lick around the mother's mouth as newborns and puppies still retain that instinct. It's also sort of a submissive gesture - the more subordinate members of a pack will lick the more dominant members and that's important in maintaining pack harmony.”
Kisses and licking are also a form of affection. For example, when your dog sees you come through the door, there is much tail wagging, possible barking, and kissing. They are so happy to see you and do everything they can to communicate that to you!
When your dog licks you, it releases endorphins and tends to calm them down. When you are anxious or stressed, often your dog will lick you, and that is to calm you down. Dog kisses are a win -win!
You may also taste good. If you have been sweating, that salt may taste good to your woof.
Whether or not you should let your dog lick you is slightly controversial. Most vets agree that if a person is healthy and has no broken skin, receiving some dog kisses on that unbroken skin, like your hand, should be fine. But many vets also point out that dogs spend most of their time with their noses in dirty places, they sometimes have worms, and should not be allowed to kiss you on your face where you have accessible mucous membranes.
How to get your dog to stop kissing you? Just like any other k9 behavior you don’t want, as soon as they start the behavior, redirect their attention to something else. When they stop the unwanted behavior, reward them, perhaps with some treats, like Nibbles.
Dog kisses are part of the fabulous dog package! What would we do without them?