It’s a daily routine: Before leaving for work, you call your dog and give him a sweet little goodbye kiss. He wags his tail excitedly, and even reciprocates by licking your face. But does that necessarily mean that he knows what’s going on? Does he know what smooches really mean?

Paw-rents and their furry friends have different ways of communicating. While humans communicate by reading body language that is easily read. For instance, extending one’s hand for a handshake or opening one’s arms for a hug.

A Gesture Of Affection

Your dog relies mostly on expressions as well as subtle gestures. To us, kissing is seen as a form of affection, whereas in a dog's world, affection is shown by licking or rubbing against each other.

If you’re wondering why your pooch lets you kiss him, it’s because many years of domestication has taught them how to interpret our communications towards them.

Licking and nuzzling are your pup’s way of showing you that he loves you, as it has been a behaviour adopted since birth. These licks also have many uses: to express affection, to show submission, and to gather information.

When Fido shows affection via licking, a stress-relieving hormone known as endorphin is released, making him happy. The same hormone is released when paw-rents enjoy a good cuddling session!

Heed The Signs

However, not all pooches enjoy being kissed. A few warning signs of this are when he turns his head away from you, raises his lips or growls softly whenever you get close to his face.

It is best to heed these signs, and to educate children on these risks to prevent any injuries from occurring.

*This article was updated on 18 Nov 2020. It first appeared in on  20 Jun 2016.