When dogs give us kisses, they aren’t being romantic. Let’s be honest, dogs will lick faces, hands, feet – almost anything they’re allowed access to! So why do canines display this behavior? It’s deeply ingrained in their instincts.
It all starts in puppy hood when mother dogs lick their puppies during and immediately after birth to clean them and instinctively stimulate them to take their first breaths. As the puppies grow, their mother continues to lick them to keep them clean and stimulate urination and defecation.
As the puppies become more social and mobile, they begin socially grooming each other. This serves as a bonding process between littermates and begins to establish social structure. The pups also lick at their mother’s mouth during the weaning process. This behavior traces back to their wolf ancestors. A female wolf would regurgitate semi-digested meat to feed her hungry brood and this licking would stimulate the meal.
Dogs will also lick their lips when they are nervous. Young dogs are more prone to this habit, but will often outgrow it as they gain confidence. Many dogs are often prone to excessive “kissing” of their owner’s face, as it is a submissive behavior. When your dog licks your face, they’re trying to communicate that they see you as “top dog”.
So while the roots of doggie kisses may not be very romantic, those licks do show that your dog thinks you’re the leader of his pack!
This article was written for Brainz by the dog experts at The Dog Guide.