Do Dogs Understand Kisses?

Do dogs understand kisses?

Kissing is a sure-fire away of showing you care amongst humans, but experts reveal canines may see things a little differently.

Planting your lips on another person is mainly seen as a sign of affection, or in other cultures simply a positive gesture.

For many pet owners giving their pups a kiss and cuddle is something that comes as second nature, but is this really a good idea?

Do Dogs Understand Kisses?

Dr. Mary R. Burch, Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and AKC Family Dog Director, believes "dogs don't understand human kisses the same way that humans do."

However, she told Newsweek: "From repeated pairing with petting and affectionate tones in the voice of the owner, dogs may go beyond tolerating kisses to liking everything that surrounds the kissing experience.

"I had a spaniel who would get on the couch when I left the house. Often, when I returned, I would go to my dog and say, 'I'm back...give me a kiss.'

"I would kiss him on the head, then scratch his neck. He would roll over and expose his belly for pets. It got to where when I returned, as I walked across the room, my dog would lift his chin waiting for the kiss...or so it seemed.

Do Dogs Understand Kisses
When kissing a young puppy, you may not notice any signs of recognition at all because they have yet to associate kisses with affection nortonrsx/Getty Images

"What he was actually waiting for was the pets and belly rubs that always followed the kiss.

"Dogs and other animals don't kiss each other. Kissing is a human thing, and owners should watch how their dogs respond to a kiss from a human.

"Some dogs and breeds are more stoic and might not welcome a kiss on the head."

How Do Dogs Respond to Kisses?

Do Dogs Understand Kisses
Some dog might even nuzzle members of the household you rather than get excitable fizkes/Getty Images

When you kiss your dog, you might notice signs suggesting they recognize a kiss as a sign of affection.

However, as puppies, this is not something they would understand.

But, as dogs age they may associate kisses and cuddles with their owners being happy with them — as petting and treats often follow.

Dogs might also become excited and run around you with their tail wagging. Many dogs will look straight into your eyes when you kiss them, and it is often easy to see just how much they trust you when receiving this type of attention.

Do Dogs Understand Kisses
As they age, dogs tend to return these signs of affection using methods such as licking and jumping up. simonapilolla/Getty Images

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.

Signs your pooch may display include wagging their tail, looking alert, licking your hand or face, excited behavior and racing around. However, if you're dog does not respond in this way, it is best to find another way to show you care.

Dogs realise kisses are positive messages
Dogs can learn to realize kisses are positive messages. Deagreez/Getty Images

Signs Your Dog Loves You

Kim Melotte, from pet natural supplement provider, Buddy and Lola, suggests there are several other signs dog owners should look out for to indicate their love is not requited.

She told Newsweek: "Of course, all dogs have their own way of responding to kisses and cuddles, but you should be able to tell from your pet's body language that they like it.

  • They seek physical contact. Melotte said: "This can come in the form of a quick nuzzle, a cuddle, or the famous lean."
  • They want to sleep near you. She said: "Dogs, by nature, sleep in a pack next to each other.
  • They're excited to see you. All dog owners are familiar with this scene."
  • They give you puppy eyes. She added: "Holding eye contact is a big move for dogs, and it's reserved for someone they love and trust."
  • They check on you. Melotte said: "Cooking, watching tv, bathroom visits — your dog is there through it all."
  • They'll lick you. She said: "When your dog licks you, it could be for a few different reasons, but ultimately it's an affectionate gesture."
  • They share their toys. She added: "Your dog might sometimes tease you with their toy when they want to play, but in a true gesture of affection, they'll present it as a gift."
  • You're only second place when there's food involved. She said: "A pup that loves you will prioritize you above all—except a big bowl of food."