Do Dogs Understand Hugs and Kisses?

For people, a small kiss on the head or cheek is a positive gesture of affection, showing someone you love them. As a result, it’s not uncommon to see dog owners show affection to their dogs the same way they do to friends and family.

Have you hugged your forever puppy today?

So that leads to a couple of key questions:

  • Do dogs understand hugs and kisses as we do?
  • How to tell if a dog doesn’t want to be kissed or hugged?
  • Is it even healthy or safe to kiss a dog around the face?

Humans like to show signs of affection through kisses, hugs, and reassuring gestures. We naturally include our pets in our affection gestures. However, it’s important to keep in mind that dogs have their own unique ways of communicating. Canine body expressions do not include kissing and hugging as we know them. Whereas licking might seem similar to a human kiss, the reasons behind it differ from why people kiss.

So is physical affection, such as hugs and kisses, understood by our fur babies as a display of affection or simply as a weird behavior unique to us, their humans?

Your Dog Needs Space To Feel Safe

When a dog is kissed, it means bringing our face very close to the dog’s face, and this is something that puts dogs in a very vulnerable position. From a dog’s perspective, putting our faces close to their faces and plastering them with a kiss on the nose, mouth, or forehead may be perceived as a threat.

Likewise, when we hug our dogs, we wrap our arms around them, which can make them feel vulnerable and generate a feeling of being trapped. A dog who doesn’t fully trust you may interpret a gesture of affection of this kind as an invasion of their space, making it really important to teach our children not to surprise our family pets in this way.

Avoid Confusing A New Yorkshire Terrier

In general, if you’ve just adopted a new dog into your family and kissed or hugged them to show section, they will likely not understand your purpose behind this behavior and may even try to back away as they feel intimidated. Your dog might freeze up and enter a state of inhibition. They may even snarl or bite if the response is ignored.

In these circumstances, the dog will reject hugs or kisses because it cannot understand the behavior. So can you kiss your dog and have them know you love them? As we’ve already explained, if you have a newly adopted dog, it will not yet understand your hugs and kisses and may become stressed and confused. They will not want your face near their muzzle and may feel the need to defend themselves.

Learning to Recognize a Yorkie Puppy Affection through Positive Actions.

With time, however, dogs may learn to associate kisses and hugs with a display of affection. If accompanied by gentle strokes, expressions of joy, and tasty rewards, your dog will learn to associate your affection as a happy and safe action and not something they need to worry about.

After the 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. The dog may grow to be to accept and recognize kisses as a sign of love, and your pet may even respond by licking you back. Licking is an instinctual dog behavior. It is a trait they carry out from the time their puppies, and it’s motivated by several impulses.

Mother dogs lick their puppies to clean and comfort them. When a dog licks you, it’s their way of showing care and grooming you. It’s a sign of love and bonding. Dogs use their tongue to explore the world through scent and taste. By licking your face, your dog can find out a lot of information about you. They know what you’re eating, and where you’ve been, assess your mood and health, and detect many smells which are unnoticeable to us.

Dogs show their affection by licking those who give them kisses as a sign of love. This is why when your dogs welcome you home, they may attempt to lick your face showing your their happiness and affection.

Your dog is showing you affection, but they are also finding out information about you. Is it unhygienic to kiss a dog on the mouth? There’s great debate about whether it’s okay and safe to kiss a dog. While there are those who claim dogs spread diseases, others argue that kissing your pet can enrich your own bacterial flora and even strengthen the immune system.

The majority of bacteria present in a dog’s mouth have a preference for dogs as hosts, resulting in kissing your dog being less risky than kissing a human. However, there are still hygienic risks to consider. It is a fact that dogs can’t brush their teeth unless you do it for them. They eat things from the ground or trash cans. They may also raid the litter box. Many of these bacteria are zoonotic, meaning they can transmit from canine to human.

A good immune system can fight against harmful bacteria. The risk of kissing a dog depends on its bacteria and the person’s health.

Signs of Anxiety showing that a dog doesn’t want to be kissed or hugged

When a dog does not want to be kissed, their body language may show signs of tension, such as stopping wagging their tails. As well as other signs of stress such as leaning away, averting its gaze, tightening its lips, and licking them. Your Yorkie may even give more extreme warning signs such as hunching over or baring their teeth if they are not comfortable with their situation.

Many people fail to notice those signs, especially new dog owners, and may attempt to kiss the dog, resulting in the dog snapping at them. Do not force close physical contact with an uncomfortable or stressed dog.

If your new dog is a rescue, you need to pay attention to any warning signs. Remember Yorkshire Terriers are small but have very strong jaws. One study has shown that bending over a dog, putting the face close to the dog’s muzzle, and making eye contact is the main cause of dog bites. All these behaviors take place when you kiss or hug a dog.

Sadly, the study found that more than two-thirds of the victims were children. It is common for young children to view dogs as if they were stuffed animals. They want to snuggle and smooch them the same way they do with their cuddly toys.

Another study has found that dogs show more obvious signs of stress like yarning, freezing, lip licking, or elevated heart rates when they are touched on the head or muzzle.

The Yorkie Times - Cassandra and Loki playing in the winter

Showing Your Dog Affection the Right Way.

Also watch for these positive signs your puppy is enjoying the attention: waggings its tail, licking you, racing around, and showing excited behavior when you kiss them. However, if your dog does not respond in a positive manner, then it is best to find another way to show them you care.

There are many ways to show your dog’s affection beyond kisses or hugs. Most dogs are big fans of being close to their owners, so you can show them love and affection with cuddles, pets, and a loving voice. It all comes down to spending time with your dog. Play with your dog, binge-watch some TV from your favorite chair, let your dog snuggle with you, and give them a belly rub.

Another Way To Bond With Your Dog: Enjoying Exercising together.

Take your dog for frequent walks and hikes and allow them to explore the world. Some dogs even make good running companions. Dogs can be taught fun or enjoyable skills through experimentation. Training sessions that involve treats can be enjoyable for dogs and also help strengthen the bond between them and their owner. As you spend time with your pet, you both learn the signs of what positive reinforcement work best for you. 

When you remember, when dogs lean their body weight against you, they are showing you affection. One way to tell your dog you love them is to lean into them and let them lean on you. Don’t push them away or crush them. Just the right amount of lean will demonstrate that you love them.

And just like people, sometimes the best way to show your dog affection is simply to spend quality time with them. Nobody, be they human or canine, feels loved while being ignored.

Now that you know more about how dogs respond to hugs and kisses, let us know your thoughts in the comments section below. Do you kiss or hug your Pup and do they appreciate it?

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