Skip to Content

Do Dogs Understand Kisses? 7 Things You Need To Know (2023)

Do Dogs Understand Kisses

Kissing Fido’s your way of showing affection. 

And they usually seem to like it too.

Some of them would even lick your face back.

But as sweet as dogs can be… 

It might still make you wonder. 

“Do dogs really understand kisses?” 

You came to the right place for answers.

Keep reading to learn:

  • 9 adorable signs that your dogs like your kisses.
  • 1 alarming reason why you shouldn’t kiss Fido on the lips.
  • 7 surprising things you need to know about dogs and kisses (must-see #1.)
  • And so much more…

Do dogs understand kisses?

Dogs don’t understand kisses. Especially when they’re still puppies. However, dogs can learn that kissing is a positive behavior. Particularly if you add treats and praises as you kiss them. As dogs learn that you like kissing them, they might show signs that they enjoy it too.

Do dogs like being kissed?

Dogs don’t like being kissed. But only at the beginning of your bond.

You see, dogs can learn to enjoy it. Especially if you give treats, praises, or pets after you kiss them. 

In that sense, they’ll associate the act with something good. 

So, they’ll like the rewards that come after they get a kiss. 

“That sounds like they only care about food.” 

I get why you’d think that. But that’s not true. 

Take it from this research:

Dogs prefer their fur parent’s affection over treats. 

So it’s not always true that all they care about is food.

“Why don’t dogs like kisses at first?” 

Dogs won’t like kisses at first because it’s unnatural for them. 

If you’d look at wolves…

These animals don’t kiss each other. So if you kiss a dog for the first time, they might get confused. 

In fact, Fidos who don’t know you well could even get the wrong idea. 

By that, I mean they might think you’re being aggressive with them. 

After all, kissing is an alien language for canines.

Should you kiss your dog?

You should kiss your dog only if they’re okay with it. 

By that, I mean Fido’s not showing any signs of:

That said, most dogs will learn to accept your kisses. But if not, they might experience 1 of these 3 issues.

Moreover, you shouldn’t kiss your dog if they’re: 

  • Sick.
  • Wounded.
  • Newborns.

Now, why shouldn’t you attempt to kiss a dog if they’re 1 of those? 

You see, a human’s mouth carries a lot of bacteria. So if you kiss these 3 Fidos, you might worsen their health. 

At the same time, you could get sick too. Especially if the pooch has a zoonotic disease. 

Those are illnesses that can get passed on to humans. 

That’s why you should think twice before you kiss a sick dog.

Kissing dogs – 7 things you need to know

#1: Licking isn’t the same as kissing

Does Fido lick you back after you kiss them?

I’d hate to be a party-pooper, but…

According to Dr. Stanley Coren’s study

Licking isn’t the same as kissing for dogs.

So when Fido does it to your face, they’re not smooching you back. 

Here, let me tell you what licking means in dog language: 

  • For greetings.
  • To groom you.
  • It’s a sign of respect.
  • Puppies do it to make peace.
  • It’s a way to ask their parents for food.

As you can see, none of these 5 things come close enough to kisses.

Moreover, Fidos also don’t lick each other for romance. Unlike what hoomans do with their partners. 

That’s how different licking and kissing can be, for your pooch.

Not to mention…

Humans often kiss people on the face, don’t they? 

But as for dogs, they’d lick you anywhere they can reach. Now, that’s not the same as kissing at all. 

I mean, would you casually kiss someone on their leg? Of course not. 

But when your furry friend licks your leg

They’re most likely just grooming you.

Read next: 13 Reasons Why Your Dog Always Licks You When You Wake Up

#2: Grooming is still a sign of affection 

Grooming Is Still A Sign Of Affection

I did say that licking isn’t the same as kissing for dogs. 

But that doesn’t mean you should feel down. 

After all, grooming is still a sign of affection. 

Now, to hoomans, kissing your partner is a sign of your bond. 

And to dogs…

They see grooming as a way to make bonds too. 

For example, Fido can’t reach every corner of their body. That’s where their furry buddy comes in to help. 

And they’ll lick or groom the areas your pooch can’t reach

Then, your dog will pay them back by doing the same. 

Now, isn’t that a nice, mutual bond?

In that case…

By licking you, Fido’s keeping your bond strong. And in a sense, that’s also a sign of affection

In fact, a study also reveals: 

Dogs are happier when they lick their fur parents 

Their bodies had higher levels of oxytocin. That’s also known as the feel-good or happy hormone. 

So even if licking isn’t the same as kisses…

It doesn’t mean your dog doesn’t love you back.

They simply don’t understand the human concept of smooching. 

Check out also: 11 Reasons Why Dogs Lick One Person More Than Another

#3: Learned behavior 

Fun fact: Dogs have a super-pawer called emotional contagion

Research says this lets Fido understand how you feel. 

Now, how’s this related to kissing your pooch? 

Well, if your dog can sense your feelings… 

Then that’s how they could learn to like kissing. 

For example, you smile a lot when you smooch Fido. Or you laugh when they lick you back. 

Now, your clever little pup would pick up on this. 

“I made my hooman happy. So I should let them do that again.” That’s what your pooch could be thinking.

In that case…

Kissing becomes a learned behavior for them. 

Not to mention, the AKC says: 

Dogs can be copycats too

Does your pooch bark when you kiss someone?

Well, there could be many reasons for that…

But 1 possible thing is they want a kiss too. 

“Wait, I thought dogs don’t get what it means?” 

That’s right. Though, even if they don’t…

They still want a smooch. That’s because they want to copy you.

So next time someone kisses in front of your dog…

Fido might want to join too. So give that pooch a smooch.

#4: Fidos lick you to show comfort

When your friend or family’s feeling down…

You’d try to cheer them up. Sometimes, you’d give them a hug or a kiss to comfort them.

But did you know that dogs might do something like that too? 

Apparently, professionals say: 

Dogs react uniquely to tears. So when you’re sad or about to cry…

Fido would sniff you more than usual. Then they’ll start licking you a lot.

That’s why experts think dogs know how to give you comfort. And it’s almost the same way when humans kiss. 

So even if Fido doesn’t get what a loving smooch means… 

They might still offer you comfort through licking. 

#5: Avoid kissing them on the lips

Not every fur parent knows this…

So here’s a gentle reminder. Don’t kiss your pooch on the lips.

“But why not? My dogs are clean.” 

They might seem that way on the surface. 


Like humans, their mouths have a lot of bacteria too. Especially if Fido’s the type to eat poop

As nasty as that sounds… 

This is actually more common than you think.

You see, there’s 1 study that showed: 

24% of dogs tend to eat poop. It could be their own waste. Or another animal’s poop. 

Moreover, 16% of Fidos constantly eat poop. That’s 1 out of every 6 dogs. 

And this behavior’s called: coprophagia. 

So if you’ve caught your pooch eating some poop… 

It’s better not to let them lick your face too much. And don’t kiss them on their lips, too.

First, you have to fix their habit before you smooch their face again. 

That said, you can learn some helpful tips from this clip: 

Find out more: 9 Alarming Reasons Why Dogs Eat Deer Poop + What To Do

#6: Some dogs learn to love kisses

Dogs have a powerful sense of smell. 

In fact, PetMD shares: 

Fidos have 300 million scent receptors. So, their sense of smell is 100,000 times better than you and I. 

Oh, why am I telling you all this? 

Well, remember the hormone I mentioned in fact #2? 

Yes, I’m talking about oxytocin. You see, your pooch can smell that too.

That means they’ll know when you’re feeling good or happy. 

And to shed more light on why this matters…

This research found out that: 

Dogs and humans have higher levels of oxytocin when they kiss

This shows that the happy feeling’s mutual. 

That’s why your pooch could learn to enjoy kisses. 

So if Fido could talk, they might say something like:

“My hooman and I feel happy when they kiss me. So I kind of like it now.” 

Moreover, some dogs can be very clingy. Or other Fidos are simply overly affectionate.

That’s why they’ll also enjoy your kisses. 

Why so? Because you get close to your doggo when you smooch them.

To put it in simpler terms…

Dogs love physical contact. But they don’t get what it means to get kissed in human language.

You might also like: Quiz: Does My Dog Love Me? Test It With These 27 Signs

#7: 9 signs that your dog likes your kisses 

All this time, you might be thinking:

“How would I know if my dog actually likes my kisses?” 

Don’t worry, I got you covered. 

Here are 9 signs that Fido likes your kisses:

Now, even if your pooch doesn’t do all these things… 

It doesn’t always mean they don’t enjoy your kisses. 

Don’t forget that every dog’s different. 

Meanwhile, there are Fidos who won’t like kisses at all. 

Either way, only you would know your pooch best.