Dogs have found their way into our hearts and homes and many people think of them as part of the family. Some people even consider them as children. This leads to us forgetting that dogs are a different species than us humans and may not understand all of our actions.
As our affection for our dogs grows, we often do things they may not understand. This is true of hugs and kisses.
Do dogs understand when you kiss them?
Your dog may understand that a kiss is a sign of affection, but they don’t actually understand the concept. As puppies, dogs will show signs of discomfort when a human gives them a kiss.
Over time, their trust will grow and they will look at other cues such as tone of voice and the gentleness of touch to know if the kiss is good or bad. They soon learn that it is a sign of affection and many will show their pleasure by wagging their tail and even licking you as a means to show their affection.
It is more likely that starting the kissing when your dog is a puppy will result in more positive reactions and a greater understanding that you are displaying affection. While affection isn’t a concept a dog understands, the positive feeling attached to the act is. It is important to understand how a dog acts during interactions in order to get the point across.
Even the most trusting of dogs may be frightened if you kiss them on the nose. This is often one of the greatest causes of dog bites in children, who are only showing affection but the dog feels threatened.
Do dogs like to be hugged and kissed?
In most cases, no dogs do not like to be hugged and kissed. This goes back to the days before they became domesticated. Even dogs that have learned to tolerate kisses and see them as a sign of affection will feel uncomfortable with being hugged.
They may be willing to snuggle up to you, but they don’t like to be held in a way that makes them feel confined or trapped.
Consider the nature of kissing. We bend over him, look our dog in the eyes, and get right up in his face. All of these can be signs of aggression to your dog.
When dogs meet, they approach each other from one side or the other. There is never any direct eye contact as they do their traditional sniffing and then move onward.
Dogs in a pack will show dominance by placing their head over another dog’s head so leaning over them causes them to feel you are asserting your dominance and possibly becoming ready to attack.
Some dogs are more tolerant of being kissed and will even return the affection. For the most part, however, you need to know what signs to look for that indicate whether or not your dog is uncomfortable with the action.
A dog that is feeling stressed will lick his lips, give you the “whale eye”, and tuck his tail between his legs. Yawning is another sign of stress in your dog. If your dog shows any of these signs or tries to get away, it would be better to curb the urge to hug and kiss him and look for other ways to express your love.
Do dogs know you love them?
Dogs don’t actually know the concept of love but they know the feeling. When someone they love touches them or speaks to them kindly, the level of oxytocin increases dramatically. Anything you do that increases that good feeling the chemical causes shows your dog that you love him.
Things that create bonding such as play or a great belly rub all create that good feeling in them. Your dog then shows you that they love you in many ways.
To show their love, a dog gets extremely happy when you come home, even if you are only gone for a few minutes. He will wag his tail quickly, in large, sweeping motions, and follow you around the house. The more a dog feels loved by you, the more he will show his love in return.
Protecting you is one of the greatest ways a dog shows love. When your dog also feels safe, that sends him the message that he is loved. Dogs don’t know what the feeling is called, but they certainly know the feeling itself.
Is it OK to kiss your dog on the head?
As we previously discussed, most dogs don’t like being kissed, but some will tolerate it. Technically, you won’t do harm to yourself or your dog by kissing it on the head, but if the dog is wary of such shows of affection, you could do psychological damage by creating fear.
Leaning over a dog indicates dominance and induces a feeling of being threatened. In order to kiss your dog on the head, you need to lean over them. If you started kissing your dog as a puppy and it has become accustomed to your kisses, and seems to tolerate them well, then it is fine.
Otherwise, it is better to display your love in a different manner that is better understood, like giving him a gentle massage or a big belly rub. If you can’t resist kissing him, try giving him a kiss on his paw or belly instead.
Do dogs understand affection?
Dogs understand affection in a number of ways. They love a gentle touch and many dogs simply melt when you rub their ears or bellies. They feel your affection when you give them a treat or speak gently to them. Taking the time to play with your dog also shows him affection.
Dogs are not naturally used to displays such as hugs and kisses, which are human traits. By taking the time to understand the instincts that are born into dogs you can better show them how much you care.
Dogs also show their affection for you. They will stay close to you, lean against you, or even lick you to help calm you when you are distressed. This is much the same way a mother dog comforts her puppies. By sharing their toys or food, they show affection.
Even following you to the bathroom and sleeping on your bed are signs of affection. Yes, dogs understand both giving and receiving affection when it is done based on their natural instincts.