Few experiences can top the feeling you get when your puppy greets you at the door with a wagging tail and plenty of kisses. Puppy kisses, after all, are one of the best parts about owning a puppy.
But why do puppies love to give kisses?
Puppies seem to crave licking. Sometimes to the point where we, as owners, wish they didn’t. Surely there is a simple biological answer to this, right? Well, actually, it seems that it’s still up for debate whether puppies really do enjoy kisses in the human sense.
While there’s no conclusive, scientific evidence on why puppies love to lick, we can infer from our knowledge of mammalian biology and animal behaviour.
Why Does my Puppy Always Lick Me?
Puppies lick for several reasons, most of which are socially based; puppies are pack animals, after all.
Firstly, puppies lick each other to show affection and improve social bonding. When puppies lick themselves or another dog, hormones called endorphins are released. These hormones are often referred to as “feel-good” hormones because they help relieve stress and boost happiness. Thus, as puppies lick, they experience a sense of pleasure. Humans experience similar happiness boosting and pain-relieving sensations when they exercise, kiss, hug and receive gifts.
Puppies also lick to gather information about pack mates and show submission in social settings. Puppies will often lick higher pack members in an attempt to indicate their submission. This behaviour proves that they are not a threat and may also garner a reward in the form of food and attention.
So, that explains why they like to lick, but do puppies enjoy kissing in a human sense?
It’s more likely than not that, for puppies, licking is more instinctive than cultural, as it is for humans. That is, your puppy’s obsession with licking your face may have more to do with the mucus, sweat, and oils on your face than with a sense of intimacy.
A large degree of canine affection occurs through non-verbal, non-contact communication. Puppies hug and kiss through body language and eye contact and bond through play. Endorphin levels in puppies spike when puppies communicate with body language and during play.
Do All Puppies Enjoy Kissing and Licking?
While many puppies love to demonstrate their submission and affection through licking hands, feet, and faces, not all puppies love ‘kissing’. Some puppies like to have personal space and prefer non-contact communication.
Especially for anxious puppies, kissing can be a form of affection which increases stress and nervousness. Some signs off this include growling, turning away, high or low tail wagging, and staring.
Its important, if you observe these warning signs, that you avoid forcing you rpuppy to kiss you. Educate children on the warning signs of canine aggression and the importance of puppy personal space. Children, like puppies, are sometimes ill-aware of the concept of personal space. It’s always best to educate your puppy about recognising puppy behaviour so that they can avoid accidents and trauma.
That being said, there are many ways to show your puppy affection, including Belly Rubs, play, and training. If your puppy doesn’t enjoy kisses, invest time in finding a bonding activity that they do love for a long-lasting, loving relationship with your pet.