Give Me a Kiss! More on Understanding Dog Language

Who Wouldn’t Want to Kiss This Face?

This morning as I sat trying to wake up, sipping some water and watching a bit of TV my 18 month old Belgian Malinois came up for a snuggle.

I have been sad and mourning the loss of my almost 13 year old Belgian and I think we both needed a little lovin’.

As I leaned in for a little kiss (something my other Belgian LOVED) and my Jovi leaned away, it reminded me of how often we misinterpret doggy behavior and infer our human behavior on them.

In the dog world it is called anthropomorphizing or giving them human traits that they really don’t have.

He leaned away from me, not because he was being aggressive, and it wasn’t even that he didn’t want my love… it was simply because dogs don’t get in other dogs’ faces.  It is rude, it can be aggressive and it usually isn’t tolerated well.

He respects me as the “ultimate alpha” or “Momma” of our pack.  My leaning into his face just made him a little uncomfortable.

The reason my older dog liked this behavior; was because I had taught him when he was little to tolerate and then enjoy the behavior.

I remember when my old guy was little.  He too was very submissive to me and so asking for eye contact was very difficult for him.  Staring into my eyes, at first made him uncomfortable.

He would look around and about my face but was uneasy staring at my pupils.

But, he was fairly easy to train and learned that staring brought the click and food rewards and soon he was staring at me from across the room in hopes I would reward him. And if you’d like to see how I’d do that, I made these videos.

my dog wont stop licking me

Starting young can desensitize! But never allow your Children to Kiss a Dog he/she Doesn’t Know!

As a young dog trainer, I wondered if he would be comfortable taking food from my mouth.  I remember leaning down with a fry in my beak and trying to pass it to his.

He was HORRIFIED!  Dog’s don’t take food out of the mouths of other dogs!!!  This is a terribly rude behavior and can result in trauma and possibly death in the wild!

It took some major coaxing and teaching him that the behavior was acceptable on cue.

I must admit there is no real reason to teach your dog to take food from your mouth; actually as a seasoned professional I would never recommend it… it could cause more behavior problems than have any functional duty.

But, I was curious and we often do silly things in training that we may regret later (I also taught him to unzip my purse BIG mistake!!).  Thankfully he was the kind of dog that never made me regret this training and my lips still remain intact.

I need to desensitize my big Malinois that kisses are affectionate from me.  This does not mean he would tolerate it from anyone else (unless they wanted to find their lips next to their cheek on a table at the hospital), but he is very submissive to me, so it is not a dominance problem.

I would never kiss my 5 month old puppy in the face, he is WAY too dominant!!!  I could lose some lip for sure!  Kissing a dominant dog is like “paying homage to an already arrogant ego”, it’s not something you would want to do!

But it made me reminisce how much we really forget dogs have a different set of behavior rules and keys!

It also makes me scared for children who think leaning into a furry snout is acceptable behavior; or hugging a dog is okay.

Both of these behaviors are very rude to dogs and very, very dominant.  A submissive dog will often tolerate it, and some dogs seem to learn from our training and behavioral cues and begin to like it after a while; but some dogs would rip your face off for trying it.

my dog wont stop licking me

The 9 News Dog Right Before He Bit. His Warning was Too Late for Her to See.

Dominant and or Aggressive Dogs Often Don’t Give Much of a Cue Before Biting

A dominant dog or puppy may stiffen just a bit, his eye will probably dilate and many dogs will roll their eyes to the side right before biting you.  But if you are already in his space; you aren’t going to see it.

It reminds me of the news anchor that got bit in the face on live TV a few months ago.

The dog had saved his owners life and so they were doing a news story.

The news anchor was obviously a dog and animal lover; but didn’t know much about them in the way of behavior.

The dog was backed up to his owner and on a very short leash; so when the new anchor leaned in for a snoot kiss he reacted by almost ripping her nose off.

I watched the news clip and from a dog trainers perspective I can see his body stiffen, his eyes get hard and the flash of white right before he bit.  But not everyone is a dog professional; especially not our children.

So What Do Ya Do?

Keep your kids out of the face of other dogs!

Don’t ever let them hug or kiss a dog they don’t know, and be cautious about allowing them to get in the habit of doing it to your family pet.

Your dog may not mind; but their best friend’s dog may!  So preventing the bad habit from forming is sometimes key!

And, Know Your Dog

I like to desensitize my dogs to weird behavior that they may encounter from someone else and teach them some rude “human” behavior.

But I would never get in the face of a dog I didn’t know, and I would never allow someone to get in the face of my dogs!

Understanding them and recognizing that dogs are different from humans will take you a long way in your dog training program!

 

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Comments

  1. Cindy says:

    Sound advice, anyone would be well served following this advice. I once witnessed a young child run up to a stray on the street and give it a big bear hug. Luckily the dog tolerated the behavior much better than the child tolerated my attempt to educate him on approaching strays.

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  2. Ken Crawford says:

    While I don’t know about kissing a dog, I do understand that it could bite you instead of return your affection. I did enjoy your article and may use your advice on my blog.

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    Phyllis Uzelac Reply:

    If I can’t put my face by my dogs face or kiss it, then it isn’t a dog I want in my house. I love, hold, feed, and kiss my dogs from the time they are puppies, just brought into my house. I rub their bellies, I touch their toe nails and pluck or add food to their dishes. I usually have two dogs in my house and they eat out of the same bowls. I have always had dogs. I am 62 years old and none of my dogs have ever nipped or bit me. Especially when I say, Give me a kiss. They most always reach up and lick my face. Affection? Don’t know. For me it is. The dog gets petted and hugged afterward. Reward, I suppose for them. But…again, if a dog shows it’s teeth or aggressive behavior, even as a puppy…I don’t want it in my house.

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    Minette Reply:

    Yes, but there are puppies out there that do not like this type of behavior.

    I see it from both sides.

    I have one dog that loves kisses and hugs, one that tolerates it, and another that I would never get in his face… My house is very diverse.

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    Kate Reply:

    I understand not wanting the dog in your OWN home, but the point of Minette’s article is to point out that these dogs do EXIST, and that children should be taught to respect a dog’s space, regardless of where the dog lives. One of my dogs will tolerate kisses from me (she prefers to give the kisses), my other dog wholly dislikes being kissed. He is not aggressive whatsoever – dog’s have tried to bite him in the face and he just turned and walked away, and kids have pulled his tail, ears, hair, and fallen on top of him (though we try to prevent this as much as possible), and he has never so much as stiffened. All the same, he does NOT enjoy being kissed; he will pull away every time because he finds it extremely confrontational. Does that mean he’s not allowed in your house?

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    L.G. Reply:

    Kate, getting upset over a 62 year old womans post – who is obviously set in her ways – is just silly. I am sure you have learned by now that there are some people to whom you can’t educate. They have their mind made up and that is it. What matter is that YOU understand what is being discussed and that you share that knowledge with others. Personally I never really thought about this particular issue before but I can say I never let my children come in that close of contact with a dog that was not part of our family. That was just instinctual I guess and I would say part lucky on my part that we always had dogs who seemed happy with our display of affections. I think its wonderful that you are so in tune with each of your dogs that you knew this already. They are very lucky to have you. 🙂

    Sandra Reply:

    Kate,

    Why lead your post with emphasis on the woman’s age? Please stay on track.

    I kiss my dog regularly and he hates it. He turns his head away and loses his usual animation. He prefers rough and tumble belly rubs with lots of ear scratching and loud proclamations that he is my “baby”. Silly, but he likes it.

    He is an adult rescue guy with significant anxiety issues. Also, he is a little handshy. Ugh, my kisses were making him more anxious instead of reassuring him. What an invaluable post!

    I hope other dog rescuers are reading this.

    steven oliander Reply:

    I agree. Nasty puppies make nasty dogs. I have neved had a dog that would bite me or a guest. My dogs are not taught aggressive behavior and i dont tolerate it. Lucy my chorkie can be held like a baby and kissed head to toe.

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    Minette Reply:

    You are lucky.

    Don’t think that all aggressive dogs are “taught” aggressive behaviors.

    Good people get aggressive dogs sometimes. Be glad you have not had that luck yet… but don’t judge those who are struggling to do the best they can!

    Marli Reply:

    I love my rottie…and I kiss and hug him all the time..he never ever snarled at me..he kisses me back. licks my face and neck and ears…we even tested it. my hubby bend to kiss me and my rottie – sitting next to me – just put his head between us and started licking my face with a force…so he knows it is love. I even stroke his jawline when he sleep and tells him in his ear that I love him…and he grunts softly in correspondence…

    I am sure that dogs can feel the emotion and love and my way of loving is kissing and hugging…

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    Minette Reply:

    Hopefully you never get a dog that doesn’t like it, because not all dogs do

    Marli Reply:

    well…never any other dog than a rottie….

  3. ellen says:

    My dog will not give me a kiss, however, he will give my daughter, husband
    and son -in-law kisses.l What’s up with that?

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    Minette Reply:

    It may be more respect is given to you.

    Or it could be less.

    I know it is confusing but some dogs lick other dogs in the face to dominate them and others do it in submission… it is in context and sometimes it is hard to determine the difference 🙂

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    Christie Reply:

    Can you give some examples of when doing the face licking is to dominate and when it is done out of submission? My male chihuahua always tries to sneak in a lip lick / kiss.. especially if we’re greeting each other after I’ve just come home or we’ve just woken up…. The female chi does too. My lovely sweet Min Pin doesn’t— although he will lick my wrists & just about every other part of me he can get his paws on….

    OK… So examples of these so I can try to figure out my guys here as well? Thanks in advance.

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    Minette Reply:

    It is about watching the dogs and knowing them.

    And, knowing what their pupils are doing. Most often dominant dogs that lick in the face have very hard dilated pupils and sometimes a stiff body. And, usually goes straight up and into the other dog’s face very forcefully. One of my dogs use to even bite other dogs on the snout. He would engulf their snouts in his mouth as a gentle warning of who was who in the relationship.

    A submissive dog moves laterally, has soft blinking pupils and kind of curls under the dog or person it approaches. It doesn’t usually seek eye contact and blinks and looks away.

    But all dogs are different, in order to see what I mean you would have to spend time studying some dog behavior.

    whisperingsage Reply:

    Also, know that when it is submissive behavior, there it comes from the puppies in the wild heritage eating half eaten food from the mother’s mouth- the mothers hunt and eat the prey and often barf it up for the puppies until they are old enough to come and learn to hunt.

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  4. Joyce Pruett says:

    This is great information! I have therapy dogs and visit first graders in elementary schools. I introduce the dog to the whole class and talk with them about care and respect for a pet. Teachers should have this important information to share with their students.
    Thanks you !

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  5. roberta says:

    My adopted rescue mini poodle loves to kiss. she is very affectionate, partularly to my adult daughter. She is friendly to little children. However, she recently started to resist having her lease put on by snapping at us when she doesn’t want to go out. Usually this is not a problem, but when it is, we become very concerned.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    There is a reason for this; in order to best fix it try and remember if something traumatic happened when she was out. Did something scare her or hurt her?

    I would recommend keeping a leash on her for a while so you can avoid the putting the leash on and the snapping!

    [Reply]

    Roberta Reply:

    No, nothing traumatic happened when she was out. This is something that she does when she doesn’t want to go out. Yet when we finally do get the lease on her, she does “perform” when she gets outside. In the morning, she waits for the lease so she can go out and most other times throughout the day. It is in the past several weeks and inconsistant. She also sometimes pees outside then “freezes” in place and refuses to walk. Again, when forced to walk, she does easily and if she has to poop, she does. She is a lovable and affectionate dog so we are puzzled by this “sometimes” behavior and don’t know how to get her to overcome it.

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    Sweet Reply:

    It could be that your dog is waiting for more praise from you. Also away of marking the territory. I have 6 dogs with all different personalities. Only 1 will play with small children the rest would rather bite then to be around small children. Have had them from the time they were born. I think it is because smaller children move to fast for their comfort. So when a small child comes around they are put up so there are no mistakes. Being a dog owner of so many with different personalities I have to be careful. Make sure all are comfortable. Some do not like the leash and will fight it. It could also be that your dog is not ready to go out.
    I wish you all best of luck. I would try hanging the leash on your door knob. Maybe have the dog get it for when it is ready to go out.

    Terri Reply:

    Roberta…I had a problem similar to the one your having. All of the sudden my dog would run when trying to put on her leash, it wasn’t happening all the time but enough to make me wonder what was going on. We soon figured out that she was smelling a new dog in her territory. Has anyone new moved into the neighborhood or have you seen any strange dogs around lately? Your dog may be sensing a “threat” which makes her nervous, thus making her apprehensive when it’s time to go out. She may be scared.
    You may want to take her to vet also, it may be hurting her to go pee so she doesn’t want to go unless she absolutely HAS to…this was the case with our older dog. She had a urinary tract infection. No other symptoms other than not wanting to go out, but she would just kinda “freeze” up after relieving herself. Good luck!

  6. Stephanie says:

    I think this might depend on the breed and temperament of the dog? My mini dachshund long hair actually sits and really looks into your eyes and jumps around and kiss in greeting. This is behaviour she has always had. But is very respectful of new dogs and only kisses dogs she knows.

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    Zoe Fox Reply:

    This is the same with my dog, Mara. She is a white Norfolk terrier and is extremely soft and easy going. She tolerates a massive a mount of hugging and kissing and tumbling about from my 6 year old and there isn’t a single moment when she even looks like she is going to bite! She loves all people and kids and has a natural respect for other dogs. I do believe it comes down to the breed and the way they are raised but i wouldn’t change it for the world. After a lovely hug she often looks at me with very loving eyes and i believe she feels the same love and respect for me as i have for her.x

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  7. Julie Roberts says:

    I have seen parents teaching their dog not to bite their kids, while the kids are climbing on the dog, or pulling his hair, etc.. But, not teaching the kid how to treat the dog! What happens when the kid does that to a strange dog? I never left my children alone in a room with a dog, when they were little, because I didn’t want the dog to be abuse, or the child to be bitten.

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    Gai Speirs Reply:

    Smart move, supervise or separate,quite simple.

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    rossi Reply:

    I am completely agree with Julie Roberts, that is the most important issue for people who have dogs and children, most of the time I saw some children abussing the dogs treaten like a toy, this is completely wrong, and for the owners (parents) is a must to explain that pets ( dogs, cats, etc) aren NOT A TOYS and they deserve our full of love, compassion and respect because they share our lives.

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  8. Melissa says:

    My boyfriend and I are raising a golden retriever we got at the age of two months. He will be six months old tomorrow, and from the day we met him, we have been giving him hugs and kisses as part of our usual affection. He was not around other dogs in a social manner before we got him, since he had not had all his vaccinations, so did not learn what was socially unacceptable for a dog (such as getting in one’s face). I think that has helped us to desensitize him towards such displays of affection, and even my three-year-old niece loves to shower him with hugs and kisses. He seems to love it in return, licking our faces and grunting happily. I even taught him the command “gimme a hug,” which is then an invitation to put his paws on my shoulders for pets and love, and at least in my UN-professional opinion, that is a good way, at least for him, to show him there’s a time and place to jump up, and he should wait until invited to jump. (Boyfriend and I like being jumped on, but we realize most people don’t, so this behavior is now invitation-only, like Chet’s “permission to misbehave!”)

    Anyway I would never get in a strange dog’s face to show affection, but a dog I know has been trained to tolerate or even enjoy it, sure! This s pretty good advice here. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    I have had some dogs that love kisses, hugs and affection and others that find it odd and aggressive.

    It is important to know what dog you have and to know if they like the behavior.

    And always to remember not to do it to a dog that is not yours 😉

    Make sure that 3 year old niece of yours doesn’t do that to a dog she doesn’t know. I prefer not to teach young children to do this at all, because they get too comfortable and then try to do it to dogs they don’t know… and can get bit in the face!

    [Reply]

    Melissa Reply:

    Oh no, I didn’t teach her that… Her mother (my sister) did! It’s a good thing Noodles is a good boy about it. Since my sister also has a dog, I really think it’s probably up to her to teach her daughter how to act toward animals, I try not to correct her unless she or someone (or some animal) else could get hurt from her actions. I don’t think it’s my place.

    [Reply]

  9. Norm Yellowlees says:

    My large one year old Female Choc. Lab has a hbit of “Licking”. She appears to do this as an expression of affection. I have tried to discourage her from doing this by gently pushing her away and saying “NO” but that does not stop her, She is quite passive and gets lots of attention. Any suggestions?
    Thanks, I enjoy your informative messages. Norm

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Some dogs like as a form of submission and so if it makes you angry and you say NO she may get worse.

    Try removing yourself from the situation.

    [Reply]

    Nancy Reply:

    Whats wrong with removing the dog from the situation? If it’s my house. My daughter feels like the dogs can do what ever when ever. She’s 59yrs old. I know it’s up to me to make the rules.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    The dog can also be removed from the situation, just long enough to change the mindset.

    I have just found that yelling or punishing a submissive licker often makes the behavior much worse!

    Eileen Reply:

    I have found that dogs that lick to the point of obsession, it’s not mentally healthy for them. Obsessive/excessive licking is not tollerated by pack leader and they will correct them for this. To just say no and allow it to continue is only enabling the unwanted behavior. I would recommend a No Lick command and get up to move them away from you. Not in a harsh manner just matter of fact and consistently. View too much as disrespectful. If each time they give you more than one or two licks and you disagree with any more than that; in a way that has meaning for them, they soon learn what it is you want. The difficult part for the human is the follow though. Check what kind of lotion or soap your using because that may be a factor drawing them in. If you have a more dominant dog it may be trying to put it’s scent on you to claim you as belonging to them as well. All dogs are different you need to find what works best for you and yours. Good luck~

    [Reply]

  10. Barbara Anderson says:

    But, what does it mean when a dog licks you incessantly???

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    some dogs are orally fixated.

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  11. Flora Hover says:

    Teach young children not to disturb a sleeping dog.
    Our son got a bite directly under
    his eye when he reached down to pet the family dog.
    It took a trip to the doctor, but everything
    turned out okay.

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  12. Bob A. says:

    You need to get a French bulldog. They get right in your face and love to smooch. They “get” the emotion your projecting and do not take it as aggression. But I will agree that OTHER people’s dogs are another matter, as they do not know you.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    I LOVE Frenchies!!!

    [Reply]

  13. Sharon says:

    Many years ago when my oldest daughter was only about 7 she was invited into a friends yard to play. The mother called me and invited her over. They had just gotten a full grown shepherd that I was not away of. We had shepherds in our house along with Samoyeds and our dogs were our children’s best friends. So when my daughter went to play in this friend’s yard she didn’t give it a second thought and went up and put her arms around the dog to give it a hug. Well it bit her in the face and ripped a pretty good piece in her cheek. We rushed her to the ER and eventually have several surgers she was back to nearly new. We had the dog investigated and come to find out it came from a relative of the current owner who got rid of it becuase it was a biter. They gave it to a family member who had a little girl and never told them. Thus they didn’t know that the dog they took in was dangerous. Eventually the dog was put down because he was not safe to be around children. Fortunately my children were raised from babies with our animals and so my daughter was not totally tramutized towards dogs. Becareful, beware, educate yourself and your family.

    [Reply]

    Cheryl Allen Reply:

    It is sad that the dog bad to be killed instead of given to someone without children.

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  14. Irene says:

    Would love if you had a facebook page. Any consideration?

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    We do! Come and join us!!

    https://www.facebook.com/pages/TheDogTrainingSecretcom/201699036508148

    [Reply]

    Elaine Reply:

    When I was about 5 years old, we used pass by a house that had a German Shepherd that had been a trained guard dog. I knew “Nada” well but on this occassion we stopped at her gate and when she came to be petted, I put my hands through the bars of the gate and gave her a hug, telling her that I was going on holiday the next day. She bit me on the lower lip – now 58 years later I know why! Luckily I wasn’t badly hurt and the bite left no scar but for years I wouldn’t go near German Shepherds although as we had a Welsh Border Collie of our own I wasn’t scared of other breeds of dogs.
    I think this is very sound advice – new to me after all these years and I think it should be as widely publicised as possible. It goes a long way to explain all these press reports of “family” dogs that suddenly “attack” young children – I’ll bet the kiddies innocently tried to hug or kiss them and the poor dogs (who are usually euthanazed) misinterperated their actions.

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  15. Joanne Engel says:

    As much as I love my dog I would never want to put my mouth on him because of where I see him put his mouth, and body. My dog does lick a lot, and I wonder what that means to him. I don’t envourage it because I don’t like it. What does it mean when your dog licks you?
    Joanne

    [Reply]

    stephanie Reply:

    I would like to what it means when a Dog licks YOU too!

    [Reply]

  16. David Stanley says:

    I do not, never have, kissed dogs, my own or anyone others. I trained and worked professional police dogs for many years and was always aware of what was “just beyound”. Regarding dogs, and animals for that matter, people generally fall into two catagories: Those that see them as dumb brutes and those that recognize animals as sentient creatures. I fall into the later and treat animals like understanding “people” but NOT human. Recognizing dog instincts and actions in this light allows for many things and prohibits many others. Kissing is one of those prohibited activities. Whilst removed from “the wild” by only a few thousand years, dogs still retain many of the “wild” charactoristics and actions. My own dog feels the necessity to “kiss” and lick my face but at her own time and not my prompting and I do not reciprocate. One doesnt present their face to a strange dog suddenly, play or grab at the dog’s head or move quickly into their “space” unless the animal is comfortable with you or extremely friendly. Even then one should afford them plenty of “personal space” unless or until the dog invites a more intimate contact. Dogs are not wee hairy people. They have their own rules and frequently tolerate our requests and demands. “Care” is the rule however.

    [Reply]

  17. elamap says:

    Great information. We need to share it with everyone. I also don’t let my dogs lick my face. Their favorite thing is eating (and rolling in) horse poop, among other things. Ewwwwww. My year old lab however has taken to licking the inside of my elbow. Any ideas why?

    [Reply]

    Sherry Reply:

    Because your own personal smell is stronger there. The other places that your own smell is strong – you would not let him near to lick. He-he-ha-lol.

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    Peter and Lorynne Reply:

    Over many years we have bred varieties of fish, rats, and Chow Chows. We also used to breed ferrets and found that they (and other animals) would sometimes lick the inside of our elbows. We both suspect this is because of the salt buildup on the skin (from even very light perspiration). It gets trapped in the creases of our arms. Unless it becomes obsessive, it’s probably harmless, and cute. However, we wouldn’t mistake the use of what is essentially a clever appendage designed not only for tasting and eating, but also for moving, cleaning, touching, social communicating, grooming, drinking, moistening, cooling, and probably lots of other uses, for an pure act of affection.
    Although the animal is demonstrating it’s comfort with you by it’s mutual grooming, and this is an excellent indicator of your relationship, it’s probably saying, “Your arms taste good,” rather than, “I love you!”

    0

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  18. Ingrid Parker says:

    It is one thing I do not do, is kissing my dog in the face. He like to hug, but like You did say Your mouth on his mouth is rude. He will “kiss” on your ear given the chance. but I do not encourage it. He love to snuggle. Putting his head under your armpit or in your lap.

    [Reply]

  19. Judi Stern says:

    I have a 1 year old Rottweiler and a 6 mo old Border Collie. Both of them are contantly licking me, and since we live on a ranch with livestock, their mouths have been on some very undesirable substances. What does it mean when they “kiss” you? Unfortunately ,did not know the doggie ediquette,and I kiss and love both of them and they love it, especially the “rotty”, he is a big lover.

    [Reply]

    Val Reply:

    I also have a rescue Rottie bitch, rising six. She came from a family with a young child and one of my ‘minor’ problems is that if whe is off the lead and sees a small child, she’ll run over to lick them. Luckily there are some very tolerant mums round here!

    I don’t want to stop her desire to do this (though of course I try to distract her and get situation under complete control right away) because it’s so obvious it is just affection for all small people, and how can I tell her that’s wrong?

    I’ve had her 11 months and she used to lean away from hugs and kisses. I try to stop myself kissing her, esepcially since I read it can confuse them as a ‘submissive’ behaviour when everything else I am doing is intended to show dominance, but sometimes I’ve done it before I realise. She’s learning to tolerate it well, I must say, and she does love affection from pretty much anyone passing by.

    I’ve also gradually got her play-wrestling with me. Lots of growling, always playful though! I enjoy how much she enjoys it, and I think it desensitises her so that if a kid one day grabs her, I might at least get a few seconds to sort it out. Luckily again, she is also a dog that will give significant warning growls rather than just bite. I always give her lots of body cues that I am playing, and she seems to be smart enough to figure it out.

    [Reply]

    Val Reply:

    I keep trying to post things on this website and get an error.

    [Reply]

  20. Sherry says:

    I have always trained my dogs to accept and even enjoy having their heads touched, petted, patted,having my cheek laid alongside theirs, and kissing the bridge of their noses. I now have a very intelligent (tall) spayed German Shepherd who knows what her ‘face’ is and will now let me pet her face and her nose and her ears,all over her body as well as her feet and tail. This makes it much easier to look after her. I can inspect her for ticks (anywhere) and virtually doctor any place on her body. I didn’t get her until she was 2 1/2 so this has taken some quiet, gentle but very confident action on my part.
    None of my animals have ever questioned me more than once. I AM the dominant female in my home. But I also build their trust that 1st of all I do not intend to ever hurt them. The dog that required the most consistent and constant work on this was my Aussie Cattle-dog mix who was definitely an Alpha-female disposition. She chose to be ‘my dog’ out of our family and was a pack member with my small terrier mix (female) and the male Kai Ken who was her size. It takes effort, but it can be done!

    [Reply]

  21. carole says:

    MY YORKI WAS MY DOG, I TRAINED HER, BUT I CANT KEEP HER WITH ME WHEN MY HUSBAND IS IN THE HOUSE AND HOLDING THE OTHER TWO DOGS. I HAVE TRIED EVERYTHING, GATES, ETC, BUT THE MIN, SHE HAS A CHANCE TO JUMP DOWN SHE WILL RUN TO WHERE HE IS SITTING WITH THE OTHERS.

    I HAD A MALTESE AND SHE WAS MY DOG, SHE FOLLOWED ME, AND STAYED WITH ME KNOW MATTER WHAT. BUT WHEN WE FIRST GOT HER SHE WAS THE OMLY DOG IN THE HOUSE.

    IS THIS THE PROBLEM, MY SOHPI WANTS TO BE WITH THE PACK, DOES THAT MEAN I DID NOT MAKE A STRONG ENOUGH BOND TO BECOME THE PACK LEADER?

    I AM NOW GETTING A NEW MALTESE PUPPY, 10 WEEKS, AND I PLAN TO KEEP HER IN MY ROOM, WITH A GATE, TAKE HER WITH ME AS OFTEN AS I CAN, AND TRAIN HER TO WAlk, SIT AND COME.

    IM DEATHLY AFRAID OF THIS HAPPENING AGAIN, WHAT CAN I DO, PLEASE HELP.
    E MAIL ME PLEASE AT MY ADDRESS.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    A leash is the only real way to stay in control of where your dog is or goes. If you don’t want the dog to rush the other dogs, a leash will enable you to make that happen.

    Dogs are individuals you can’t force one to be something that another dog once was.

    My 12.5 year old dog that just died was like your Maltese. He followed me EVERYWHERE and never left my side… it is WHO he was. He wanted to be with me constantly.

    I have 3 more and none of them are like he was and my other previous dogs were never like him.

    Don’t set yourself or your new dog up for failure by thinking this new puppy will be like your other dog was, no other dog will be… your new dog will be an individual and you will love him for that, but he may never follow you around either… nor do you want to foster separation anxiety.

    When we placed Service Dogs (early in my career) we would try and replace the ones that died with a totally different breed, otherwise we found that our clients would judge the new dogs too harshly expecting the same reaction or dog as the one they had lost.

    We have to enjoy each dog as an individual and can’t make them follow us or love us more than another person or animal.

    [Reply]

  22. Rebecca says:

    In the wild, the alpha wolf accepts licks/kisses to his face from the other pack members. To my knowledge, this is how the pack members show respect to the alpha. I believe this is a ritualized behavior.
    So, when a pup or dog instinctually licks another dogs muzzle or a humans, are we to assume that they are eliciting this ritualized behavior?

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Not always. Some alpha dogs lick other dogs in the face as a way of making them submit.

    I use to have one of those, he would lick another dog in the face and if the dog tried to turn away he would growl.

    It depends on the dog and the situation and body language.

    While it is true that sometimes licks are submissive, they are not always and getting in the face of other dogs is rude unless you verynsubmissively ask to do so.

    [Reply]

  23. Dana says:

    I recently obtained a two-year-old rescue from the Humane Society which was a stray when they got him. From the very beginning this dog would lean against my chest and look straight up into my eyes for several minutes. I thought this was strange because I knew dogs did not like to do this. Makes me wonder what his past life was like. He is a very loving dog and likes to cuddle often. I too like to kiss him, but I kiss him on top of the head, and he loves it.

    [Reply]

  24. Bree says:

    I need help with leash training! I got a choke chain but that do not help very much. I tried a lot of stuff but they all don’t work. (he is a puppy)

    [Reply]

    Suzi Reply:

    Hi, Buy a gentle leader, they fit around the nose, chin & head. This is the easiest way to control any size dog. I have a 70kg Rotti x mastiff (Diesel) almost 6. My kids walk him easily with no effort. Keep him on a short leash next to you on your left, NEVER let him go ahead of you this will make him the Alpha dog. If he tries or pulls forward NEVER pull him back it is a natural instinct for them to then pull forward, instead a short tug to the side and a ‘sshhtt’ noise will snap them out of it instantly, use this anytime you want to stop unwanted behavior, eg. staring or fixating on other dogs or people. Choker chains are cruel & do not work a dog will choke & not stop once they are fixated you need to recognise the behaviour & stop it before it escalates.
    Hope this helps, good-luck:)

    [Reply]

  25. Emeka says:

    In my country we consider kissing dog as stupidity

    [Reply]

    Sandy Reply:

    In the US, many people consider it stupid also. My mother was raised in the country and believed animals did not belong in a home with humans. Animals were meant to work for or feed us. My father, however, came from a wealthier background with pet dogs, ponies, riding horses, etc. He loved animals, and as I was growing up, he was my champion whenever I wanted a new pet.

    [Reply]

  26. Jerry Purchase says:

    I repeatedly chastized 2 of my daughter for face smooching our Laoso Apso to no avail. Both now carry scares on their lips that corrective surgery has not hidden. The dog was older and unfamiliar to both of them. They never tried to smooch her again.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    In some ways you are lucky your children were not blinded and your dog was not euthanized, I suppose it was because your dog was small.

    A large dog that bites a child in the face usually does much more damage.

    I hate to see children bitten, and I hate to see dogs euthanized, both because of a misunderstanding.

    Kids don’t know dog behavior and dogs don’t understand kid behavior.

    If I had children I would make sure they never hugged or kissed a dog without letting them get scars.

    [Reply]

  27. PamelaH says:

    I’ve enjoyed this page/comments. I have a precious ShizTsu who loves to kiss. What is strange is that he loves to stick his tongue up my nose and nibble on the nose – ever so gently. He has done that from the first day I had him. I didn’t know whether to discourage it or not. He gets really intense about it – it makes me laugh. But I’ve always wondered what it is symbolic of. I would love your comments. Thanks.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    I would not let him do anything to me, that I wouldn’t want him to do to a 3 year old… and I wouldn’t want my dog nibbling the nose of a child for fear the parents would think its aggression or the child would be scared. So I would not encourage that behavior.

    Dogs do all kinds of weird things for weird reasons we often don’t understand.

    I have a dog that decided she liked nibbling on my husband’s goatee, but like I said… I don’t want her thinking that nibbling in the face is okay, so I discourage the behavior!

    Even though I know she is not being aggressive, if she came at someone else’s face: teeth out they might be scared for their life!

    [Reply]

  28. ValMarie says:

    After reading these posts I just have 1 question: What is the best/right way to show my dog affection so that I know that he knows that its affection I’m giving him? If he doesn’t think a kiss is affection then I don’t want to subject him to my kisses just for my benefit. I’m certainly not going to lick his face, although from all the posts it sounds like we’re not even sure if muzzle/face licking is affection, submissiveness or dominance! Boy, if only our dogs could speak the human language for 5 minutes….

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Affection comes in the form of petting, playing, and feeding and even training for dogs.

    There are some dogs that don’t like to even be petted, although most do.

    My dogs would rather go for a run or play ball than sit on the floor and snuggle… so it is about knowing your dog and understanding what they like and what makes them uncomfortable.

    [Reply]

  29. Joey says:

    my 2 year old male Yorkshire terrier Franky Never gives me kisses or licks me. However he is very affectionate. Usually he will nustle his snout in my neck and stick his little wet nose in my eye when he is loving me. Never thought I would like a snotty wet nose in the eye. Oh well… Not sure if this has any true meaning to what is being discussed here. But. kinda wondered why Franky never actually licks me.

    [Reply]

  30. Nona says:

    Hi! I am a professional dog groomer. Some dogs are kissers and some are not — (don’t go into this field if you don’t want a sudden face lick) “reading” a dog is part of why I have not been bitten in the past 8 yrs! But I have found that the majority of dogs LIKE to be held, kissed. Perhaps because their owners are not present and they don’t need to be protective… I am the alpha to them – perhaps ‘cuz the owner left them with me and I don’t allow bad behavior. I’m not mean – but firm… But I am always “on watch”…

    [Reply]

  31. Hope says:

    This has been so helpful! I’m a new dog owner to the cutest little puppy. A mix between a Shitzu/Coton de tulear. She is so cute you just want to love her. After reading human love and dog love are different. Thanks for posting this conversation. I need all the help i can get.

    [Reply]

  32. Linda Knight says:

    My loving but very playful maultipoo (m) plays constantly with my daughters (f) dog same size–they run after one another and bite at
    each others face until they are worn out. Both are neutered. What does this mean–are they just playing? My dog really goes crazy to see another dog or person (he never is calm at this point). I have to hold him back or pick him up and he’s
    still fiecely wiggling. Finely stops. Help!

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Dogs bite each other and play in each other’s faces all the time! This is why it is so likely that children get bit in the face, because this is where dogs are likely to bite each other.

    Stop it if it gets out of control.

    And, don’t let him socialize with other dogs (that he doesn’t know) if he can’t do so calmly… or he is likely to meet a dog that finds him rude and wants to correct him!

    [Reply]

  33. christine says:

    I have a 3yr Maltese who was abandoned. I have had her for about 5 months now and she wants to lick me to death.

    I do not allow her to kiss me though. I don’t believe in allowing animals to do that, thats me.

    She gets plenty of cuddles, pats and belly rubs/tickles but no kisses.

    Thats just not me.

    [Reply]

  34. Dennis says:

    I have a german shepherd Australian cattle-dog mix who is very affectionate. She is constantly licking and biting my hands – mouthing as they say at the animal shelter where I got her. It gets a little annoying after a while. Any suggestions?

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Spray a little bitter apple on your hands.

    She is a herding dog and that is what herding dogs do, if you taste terrible to her… she will stop.

    [Reply]

  35. June says:

    I have been very fortunate that all 3 of my yellow labs love people. I tell everyone don’t look at them, “Oops too late” and they are all over them. Even when my nieces and nephew were young there were no issues. They could even use them as pillows.
    I allow them to kiss, but not on the lips.

    [Reply]

  36. Kristen says:

    I have a one year old Gordon Setter and I kiss her face all the time. I think she has grown to understand it. She doesn’t exactly give kisses on cue, but if I put on any type of eye make up and then sit down in front of her, she will approach my face very gently and sniff my eyes, without touching me or licking me. She’s very sweet, and careful about getting in my face.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    I have one of these dogs too, she likes head and snoot love 🙂 She is very submissive and her eyes are soft and blinky.

    My boys on the other hand… I try not to get in their face! But they are much younger. I teach my older male tolerance, but am not comfortable getting in his face… and the puppy would remove a lip if I got into his space, eventually he too will learn tolerance but it can take time.

    [Reply]

  37. Christy says:

    I have a one-year-old australian shepherd/hound mix that licks every new dog she meets to the point of annoying every dog she meets. She goes to Doggie Daycare two times a week, and she’s gotten bitten three times now because she wants to kiss other dogs constantly. She won’t stop until they pin her down. She rolls over and is very submissive to them. I think she must be totally insecure and wants every dog to like her. The problem is — why isn’t she catching on in the dog social world that her behavior is unacceptable?? I wonder if I’m at fault because as the Alpha, I do give my dog kisses. But I would think she would learn in the dog world that it’s not liked by other dogs — especially after being bitten three times. Any advice on how to get her to stop licking other dogs??

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    You can try and control her with other dogs, but she is suffering from some obsessive and neurotic behaviors.

    Dogs are like people, even though they know better or shouldn’t do something sometimes they do anyway.

    I am guessing that dogs suffer from the same kind of mental disorders we do.

    If it becomes a problem you may have to keep her from playing because it is hard to control a dog once they are already playing.

    You can however give her coping skills and something else to do if she is on a leash. Like give you eye contact instead of meeting a new dog.

    [Reply]

  38. John Clark says:

    A timely warning. My wife and I wanted to introduce ourselves and our 9 month-old boxer to our new neighbours about 2 weeks after we moved into the house next door. The neighbours had two young boys, one only 2 years old, so the mother picked up the little boy so he could say hello to us at our level. So my wife picked up our boxer pup, so he could say hello to the neighbours at their level. So the little boy and the boxer are face-to-face. As the 2 year-old moved towards our dog’s face as if to say hello and perhaps to kiss him, the boxer suddenly lunged at the child and one of his teech connected with the child’s forehead. So all of a sudden, our introduce to the neighbours turned into a major disater, with the child screaming and a line of blood running down his forhead!

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Unfortunately kids are very rude when it comes to dogs… they don’t know any better but dogs don’t accept rude behavior well. Dogs are use to biting “other dogs” and teaching them a lesson.

    This was unfortunate and traumatic for all of you!

    [Reply]

  39. Bree says:

    Help!! I have a boxer/bull mastiff puppy (maybe pit bull). My sister (while he was sleeping) picked him up to put him in her lap. Then all of a sudden he bite her face. Not like play biting like aggression kind of bite.

    [Reply]

    Lloyda Reply:

    Your pup was obviously startled by your sis picking him up while he was sleeping. To bite in this case would be a natural self protective instinct. Hence the saying ‘Let sleeping dogs lie’.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Anytime there is a bite there is a need for professional intervention. Call a veterinary behaviorist and get them to come out to the house and see the dog.

    Biting is never “normal” or acceptable no matter what anyone says!

    It is always cause for concern and is likely to get worse when you are seeing it in a puppy!! Get someone involved who can help you get started on a behavior modification program.

    [Reply]

  40. Thomas DeLano says:

    I have two 1-1/2 year old high content brother/sister hybrid wolf dogs. In the wild wolves frequently lick each others faces and like to stick their tongues in each other’s mouths (I think they invented French Kissing). Wolves are very affectionate to those in the pack unless there is a fight for Alpha dominance.

    Being the Alpha in my pack, my wolves show me a great deal of respect. They also like to lick my face and give french kisses. They are completely respectful of me as the Alpha and have never attempted to bite my face – they only give me big licks. I can stick my face in theirs any time and they always respond with licks -wagging their tails with joy.

    They also enjoy big hugs and never squirm when I hug them for a long time. I know that is not wolf behavior, but it is something they have enjoyed since they were 10 week old puppies.

    Given that all dogs evolved from wolves, perhaps licks as kisses also came instinctively from these beautiful animals to most if not all dogs.

    [Reply]

  41. Kathleen Johnson says:

    Our previous dog, who died after 12 loving years with us, learned the command “Give me a kiss” and she would lick my face. Our new dog, who was 9 months when we got him and is now two, is a little more dominant and it took him awhile, but now he is consistantly giving me a “kiss” when I ask him to. It is just a brief little lick, not sloppy, and I love it. BTW your materials have really helped us to deal with a completely different personality from our previous dog, who was naturally compliant and never caused a lick of trouble. Ollie is a go getter and has to learn to be restrained, but he is coming around and is a real joy to us.

    [Reply]

  42. Charleen says:

    I LOVE my dogs I can squeeze, kiss take their food while their eating. They are soooo lovable and they like almost everyone!

    [Reply]

  43. tootsibelle says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this information. It is very educational and good to know since my Boston Terrier is so friendly and gets so much attention every time we take her out…and from dog lovers of all ages. I never knew to caution people not to love on her. Now, I know to be more careful even though she has never been aggressive. She looks me straight in the eyes when I talk to her and we snuggle and cuddle, but she’s not allowed on my bed and I am not a kisser!

    [Reply]

  44. alan woods says:

    We have a Boxer pup,she is 7 and a half months old. She like our previous three boxers have been giving my wife and i kisses sinse she was 7 weeks old. I think having a dosile breed is very important when letting any dog near your face.
    P.S. really enjoy your column down here little ol N.Z!!!!

    [Reply]

  45. June Pound says:

    Hi,
    Children have no idea how to approach dogs. I had my German shepherd in the park one day when a group of children, accompanied by a teacher, surrounded him. I quickly bade him sit and I told the teacher children should never run up to a strange dog, bend over and stare at it! It is so obvious to me that I ended up with a circle of kids around me while I explained how I would approach a dog and what to beware of. The teacher and the kids thanked me after they had patted Caesar, who fortunately was pretty foolproof!
    The German Shepherd Dog Club of Victoria had a scheme whereby suitable dogs would go into to schools, (one of my friends who was an ex-schoolteacher did this for some years) to educate children around dogs. Next time I see her I must ask her exactly what this entailed, apart from a well behaved dog!
    I have just come from my sister’s house where her spoodle spent at least an hour on my knee looking at me with adoring eyes and licking my face whenever I was off guard. I know she loves me, but she is a little too much in my face!
    I did read in one book that the reason a puppy licks your face is because it expects you to regurgitate food for it. It made sense to me that it might have been an ancient instinct? June

    [Reply]

  46. Al says:

    I was just asking myself today why doesn’t my dog want to kiss me ..i lean in he leans away. Makes so much sense now.. I kept asking myself what the hell did i do wrong .i thought i trained it into him without knowing.. but i feel better now
    Thanks

    [Reply]

  47. Shirley Brief says:

    MY 4 yr. old Chihuahua mix doesn’t lick people, but she jumps up on everyone in a very friendly way. How do I teach her not to do this? I’ve only had her for 6 months or so.

    [Reply]

  48. Tess says:

    I have a female collie cross, she will not give me a kiss “lick” but she will kiss my son and grandson when asked.
    My 19 year old grandson says “it’s a guy thing”

    [Reply]

  49. Barbara says:

    I love my little tiny Shorkie but I have no desire to kiss her. It doesn’t mean I don’t love her, I just don’t have any urge to put my mouth on her. Ugh!

    [Reply]

  50. SueMac says:

    I love these articles, I have a 7 mo. female Rottie who has been diagnosed with hip dysplasia, I informed the breeder and he couldn’t care less, I believe he’s still breeding the dam, she is on pain pills, fish oil and glucosamine from the vet, and on to the licking… it’s never ending unless she’s asleep, nothing is sacred, the carpet, the couch, bedspread, cat and on and on. Is there a possibility she’s doing this because she is in pain?
    Thanks
    Sue

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Yes, that can be the cause.

    Licking can be obsessive compulsive behavior for sure, read my newest article on that and try to train her to do something else.

    Also try taking her swimming, swimming is great for Rotties and arthritis! I use to have one!!

    [Reply]

  51. Rev Bonnie Ann says:

    My Chihuahua – may be Mini Pin mix loves being hugged. She has to cuddle constantly. Always on my lap or by my side in bed. Is it the breed, or just the pup’s personality ? She is a rescue dog – she is now 2 years old have had her since 6 months of age. She will tolerate a little nose kiss. She loves hugs, back rubs, patty cake paws playing. Heck, any kind of attention. She is afraid of kids with anything that looks like wheels, bikes, trikes, wagons, skate boards etc…, yet she does not mind them holding or hugging her. If I was that small I would not want to be run over by a fast moving wheely thing either. Touching, cuddling, hugging she can’t get enough of. I do notice she shakes herself off sometimes after a long hug. Take her to church too, she loves to get hugs & attention there too. The more the better!

    [Reply]

  52. Betty coogan says:

    THANKS FOR THE ARTICLE ALTHO I KNEW BETTER I WOULD TRY TO KISS MY DOG WHEN HE WAS A PUPPY….HE DIDN’T LIKE IT SO TRIED THROWING A KISS TO HIM WHEN HE DID SOMETHING WELL…NOW HE IS THE AGRESSOR AND WANTS KISSES ALL THE TIME…THANKS FOR THE ARTICLE….IT MADE A LOT OF SENSE

    [Reply]

  53. Charlene says:

    Our 1yr old golden/lab mix will growl at my two younger boys ages 3 and 7 if they approach her to pet or hug her. She is fine with the adults and my 11yr old but the lips quiver with a low growl and the tail between the legs when ever they get too close. As long as they dont touch, or look at her in the face, she will approach them and kiss their hand or face but the second they reach for her, she will start her growl. She is a great pet with this exception but the only one I cannot afford to tolerate. I need help!

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    You need to get a veterinary behaviorist over to see the dog and the behavior before your children get bit!!

    Since I cannot see her, I cannot give you advice with aggression.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    I cannot give advice on aggression without being able to see it.

    You need to get a veterinary behaviorist to your home ASAP before one of your children gets bitten!!!

    [Reply]

  54. monika says:

    My friends dog is very sweet but when someone sits on the floor she will lick their whole body head to toe and it gets annoying at times and if someone tries to push away she is very persistent and pushes her face back to where she was licking… does anyone know what this means or if she is just being extremely affectionate?

    [Reply]

  55. monika says:

    I have a female schnoodle and she is just around 11 pounds. She is very affectionate and loves to lick my face with a look in her eyes which resembles love. But whenever she sees a bigger dog she freaks out and gets terrified i am not sure if this is because she has been in a past experience where a big dog such as a lab has scared her or something. I am not sure if this is the case though because she is purebred and comes from a breeder where the biggest dog is a french bulldog. I really want her to be able to play with bigger dogs as friends… does anyone have suggestions as to what I could do to help her?????

    [Reply]

  56. Bree says:

    Hi. My puppy came to my door a few months ago. We found its owner a couple houses down. My puppy, Caspian, has 1 brother and 1 sister. They keep coming to my door. They are not being taken care of. The girl has rashes all over her and the boy is skinny. The guy who owns Caspian’s brother and sister does not take care of the poor puppies! When ever they come to my door (they are allowed to roam around and they could get hit by a car easily) I give them food and water. I just want them to have a good home. I can’t have any more dogs or else I would take them in. The mom of the puppies is old and very unhealthy! The mom is not spayed and she is starting to get aggressive with people walking by. She is getting aggressive because her owner chains her up to a short chain. What should I do! It’s very sad!

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    The only thing you can do is call animal control or the humane society and have them check on their conditions and hope that they do something.

    [Reply]

  57. Ana says:

    I found this article very important, yes we love to kiss aour pets as our pets sometimes lick us too. but we STILL thinking as humans as we do it, every human is different so dogs too. we need to speak the dogs lenguage not the human!!!!!
    I will watch more carefully my dogs behaivor, and learn more abut it. and YES i will NOT encourage this any more. the result will be on a better relationship with them!!!!
    thanks!!

    [Reply]

  58. Sidney says:

    About eye contact I have a staffy rescue dog and she will follow me in every room in the house and while on her bed which is in the lounge room she will watch me constantly for hours,I would like to know why she does this.As for kissing when getting ready to take her for a walk she will try to lick my face when I bend down to put my boots on,I do not encourage or discourage this

    [Reply]

  59. louise laukhuff says:

    I always kiss and have never gotten a negative reaction from any animal – cat, dog horse, pig. I’m an animal person and I do read their body language. Sometimes the animals read you as well and know there is no evil intent, just a crazy human thing!

    [Reply]

  60. pgirish says:

    I have two dogs who don’t like wearing their leashes (Gentle eader) but yet will come and sit with their noses extended to have me put them on because from puppyhood that was accompanied by praise, and sometimes a treat, and led to something they liked – such as a walk or a ride in the car.

    [Reply]

  61. Roger Tulk says:

    That’s very useful information. My 18 month old King Shepherd has given kisses on the chin to me and others since we got her, but I am still careful with strangers who want to pet my dog. She has always been friendly to other people. She isn’t a cuddler, but she does like to lick. I couldn’t love her more!

    [Reply]

  62. Cookie Bootz says:

    I enjoyed reading the posts, didn’t read them all though. I have a mixed terrier, part of which is “Jack Russell”, she is a very stubborn dog, but I have learned that if she won’t do what I tell her then I just tell her that I’m going and walk away, she almost immediately will come to me, after all dogs are pack animals and they don’t like to be alone, especially when there human leaves. Sorry, I got off track, my little dog “Haley”, loves to eat, and she will come and lick my face for several different reasons and when she comes and lickes my face, I ask her what she wants and then I will ask her if she needs to go outside, I then wait to see if her tail wags, if it doesn’t, then I will ask her if she is hungry and when I have found the right question, she will wag her tail and wait for me to give her food or say to her, ok lets go outside. Haley, my dog, also loves to lick my feet when I get out of the shower and she loves for me to wipe her with a towel whenever she gets wet. There is also times when she just wants to cuddle and she gives me doggie kisses and she won’t stop until I tell her that she is a good girl and that she is my girl,then she rolls over to get a belly rub, ( she will not do this with other people and I let them know, cause she will nip at them if they try) she is a one person dog, she will let other people pet her if I am around. I could go on, Haley is my best friend!

    [Reply]

  63. hi everyone, I have two dog setters, I just fired one due to insisting on kissing my dog when my dog showed signs of not liking it. What happen was she thought she could kiss the dog and be safe, long story short dog setter was a little bi-polar and she was manic that day so she enclosed the dog with arms as pet setter greeted dog with much grandiosity and laughing, scared the dog so dog gave a nice loud warning and since shes a Boston they play with that growl very vicious sounding, but setter didn’t realize she the dog wasn’t playing, did it the 2nd time, dog snapped fast in loud and when setters face came up blood went everywhere total 5 stitches. Now you must know my dog is not aggressive at all, so loving and care free, very well trained with clicker no hands training, can obey even off leash with out any problems. So why did she bite her, cause it’s rude and my Boston said no once and 2nd try was worth 5 stitches and dog was fined with 10 days house arrest and caused me to pay $150 fine. wow. so Now when someone thinks they can kiss my cute Boston I suggest there on their own. If she bites you’ve been warned. so, I learned my nice passive loving Boston will not allow anyone to kiss her or else. pay attention dog lovers you to can get bit. enjoy the day people, advance training started yesterday , Awesome job Chet. later ps,. she the setter is now sewing me for $#### thousands due to damage. Laws on her side, don’t allow people to kiss your precious dog. to much liability involved.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    So sad but so true!!!

    And people in “the pet business” can be the rudest!!

    They are less likely to listen to reason and think “all dogs love them”

    I am sorry that you all had to go through this and I wish you the best and that she learned a powerful lesson!

    [Reply]

  64. tedn rennie says:

    read with great interest,and it was Ho!so true.first thing i DID WHEN getting anew new puppy was firrst don’t have a bath for a couple of days ,take the pup andhold its head gently breath into its nostrils then slip it ‘gently’under your arm for a minute, the dog is now yours works every timebut make sure that you make it plain that when you introduce it to a friend that you let it know that ‘he ‘she’is also a friend.don’t teach it to”shake hands”but to offera paw when you say “FRIEND”if the dog is well trained it will offer a paw as a friend as no dog if it is abiter will let you hold one paw

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    My puppy would have bit you for doing that even at 6 weeks. Not all dogs are created equal.

    [Reply]

  65. Chelsey says:

    I have a 3 year old female American Staffordshire terrier who we rescued from a shelter about coming up on 3 months ago. She has to be the most submissive dog I’ve ever seen, even just standing in front of her sends her onto her back presenting her belly. She seems so sensitive, raised voices even when not directed toward her give her the impression she is in trouble and she cowers in the corner where her bed is till you tell her everything is all right. She also yelps like she is being stabbed when you even so much as give her a light pat on the butt for being naughty, then runs off to her bed or immediately flops over and shows me her stomach. Little glances if you’re sitting next to her send her into a fit of submissive grinning and chin licking, its like she has to let me know I’m the one in charge at all times. Will she always be like this?

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    She may, especially if you are spanking her for getting into trouble, the way to change her mindset is to use positive reinforcement and play with her to increase her confidence.

    [Reply]

  66. Fox says:

    Hi. I have a 3 month old working line German Shepherd. She’s definitely a dominant dog but has a great temperament. I’m socializing her well and she gets really excited around other people and jumps on them and licks them BUT she never licks me. It’s funny because I kinda got jealous that she kisses all these other people but she doesn’t kiss me. But then I thought about it – she does obey me. I am the pack leader. She looks to me for everything. She does snuggle up to me and fall asleep on me from time to time.
    But I tried kissing her a bunch of times and she doesn’t necessarily like it. Great article. Shed light on it for me.
    I do have one question though… does she have potential to become more dominant with age OR will she become more submissive as I continue to socialize and train her? I am training her to work and be a protection dog… though I want a borderline protection/house dog. Is that even possible?

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    There is no way to know a lot of that is genetics.

    Be very careful with any protection training, if you load that gun can you control it?? Most people do not have the time and $$ to make sure they can and once you start the training you can’t just “go back” to before they understood biting.

    Read this http://www.thedogtrainingsecret.com/blog/terrifying-dog/

    [Reply]

  67. Jojo Dupont says:

    I have a female Jack Russell, almost 2, very emotional and intense. When somebody she loves comes into the house she cries and carries on, moans and whimpers. She’s particularly excitable with my grandchildren, but also, with my daughter who then picks her up until she calms down; but I’m not sure this is the good solution.
    The noise is terrible and I don’t know what to do to calm her down.
    Any ideas?

    [Reply]

  68. Liz says:

    Hi, thanks for the article, it was very informative and made me think about certain behaviors I just take for granted – like being able to hug and kiss my dogs, and their reactions to me. My latest addition was a failed racing greyhound – very affectionate and naturally submissive – but he would initially pull away or turn his head if I ever tried to hug him; although, over time, he has grown to tolerate and even enjoy this.

    And issue that has arisen however, is my other rescue dog – 2.5 yrs old, female desexed kelpie x – has taken to snapping at him. She will stalk up to him and growl at him, he turns to walk away and then she lunges and snaps at him. But will only do this a distance from me – ie if she’s sitting down next to me, and the greyhound walks over for a pat, she averts her eyes and tolerates him but the moment he goes to walk away, she will follow crouched down to the ground in the same way you’d see working dogs when herding livestock, then growl/snap/lunge at him – he shows nothing but avoidance in return but I simply don’t know why she does it, and how to prevent it from happening. She was approx. 12 months when I got her, had been left in a tiny suburban backyard, had not been socialised and was fairly timid and unsure of herself initially. She gets along famously with my other two dogs – one I already had before her, and the now 12 month old Border Collie came after her – however, I had both those two boys from when they were puppies (the older one was the runt of his litter, but is now a very well adjusted, calm, submissive but confident therapy dog that visits nursing homes and hospitals; whilst the BC was far too anxious and timid to be able to work effectively and why he’s a pet rather than a worker)

    But I just can’t figure out where this aggression comes from and what to do about it now. Any ideas or thoughts?

    [Reply]

  69. Jenny S says:

    We have a two cute medium dogs before. One is terrier and the other one is Tibetan mixed. Both 8 months old. But because of neighbor complain about the barking noise, the owner of the apartments warn us to dispose the dogs. We decided to give it to friends whom neighbors are open minded and love animals, specially dogs. Dogs were taken by two different owners. So they got separated to each other. -is it ok to give the old toys to the dogs? Of course they will sniff to the toys the smell of his previous buddy’s dog and previous owner. Is it ok to visit the dog you gave away from time to time and give some treats? I love my dog very much, they don’t leave me when I was sick. You will feel to them they are protecting you. It was sad that we just gave them away.

    [Reply]

  70. quiltersammy says:

    Thank you for this article. My little friend came to us from a shelter. There are so many traits he has that we just marvel at and wonder how such a good little guy could be dumped on a lonely street. I noticed early-on that when I put my head on his he started a teensy growl. It never actually got to the “growl” stage but I understood this was not something he liked. I’m 73 years old and this is the first dog that I have owned. Yes, we had dogs in the past but they weren’t my responsibility! I’m so glad folks like you share “smarts” about these things!

    [Reply]

  71. Kristy says:

    My dog is about 18 months old. We adopted him as a puppy and the only house he knows. He is a mutt- but his mother is a American staf terrier. Now, most times he is the most loveable, energetic, awesome little pup! He gives kisses and doesn’t mind us snuggling up on him. But, recently, when we are ready to move him from the couch or a comfy spot and put him in his crate for bed, he starts to growl and get nasty. He shows his teeth and will to both my husband and I. It’s only at night and when it’s time for bed, like he’s a cranky old man.
    How do we snip this is the bud, before it gets worse? We do not have children, but we plan for that to happen in the near future. So, this is something we need to take care of before hand. Especially, since he is our first born and main concern. Yes, he is very spoiled but, we always try to make sure we are the top dogs in the house, more so my husband. We yell at him every time he pulls this stunt, but it seems like it’s not working.
    Any and all suggestions would help! Thanks 🙂

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    No more laying on the couch! If he is going to growl on the couch he doesn’t get that privilege.

    Also no more dog beds unless they are in his crate and he won’t eat them.

    I would put a leash on him and take him to his crate.

    [Reply]

  72. Aud says:

    Thanks for your article! My Shiba Inu is 2.5 years old. We adopted him from a friend who had too many dogs when he was 7 months. He actually very we’ll bahaved most of the time. We can walk him off leash when no other Shiba owners we know can. We live in city where there are not a lot of places meet and socialize with other dogs.
    Sometimes, he is very good when he meets new dogs, and we can feel the positive vibe,. There are others he doesn’t like so much, he will bite. Often, those are dogs that come up to smell his face first, and I can understand it really annoys him. Today, he bit a chihuahua on the neck because the chihuahua was literally ‘in-his-face’. What to do? How can we avoid this kind of strike? We were watching of all the signs, but he was too fast!
    Help, please!

    [Reply]

  73. Audrey says:

    Hi Minette, thank you for your article.

    I have a 2.5 years-old Shiba Inu (male, neutered). We adopted him when he was 7 months from a friend who had too many dogs, so he grew up with dogs. We took him to puppy socialization class and he has a 4 years-old Dachshund sister who he gets along with perfectly.

    He is well behaved, he responds well to commands, and we can even off him off leash in the city. We live in a very urban area, and none of the other Shiba owners are able to walk their dog off-leash, so we always get praises and compliments.

    However, there are not many dog parks or dog area where many dogs can play together. But we do try to take them to different places. He gets along with most dogs. However, he hates some, especially those ones that goes directly to his face and not the butt. He hates it when another dog sniffs his face and he will warn and then bite. We can see the signs, but he is just too fast!

    Today, he bit a Chihuahua that was literally “in his face”, and it was a bad bite. Any advice or suggestion on how we can prevent this or deal with these situations? Actually, I anticipated the negative energy from the Chihuahuas and had my dog on a leash, sitting by my side. But the Chihuahuas kept coming back, and he bit one of them. I can’t control other people’s dogs. Please help!

    Many thanks

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    You can’t control any other person’s dog but you can control your own.

    I would not allow a dog to play with other dogs if I didn’t know he was going to be good with them.

    If someone had a pit bull or a Mastiff or Great Dane that was possibly going to attack your dog would you want them to bring him to the dog park? No.

    So instead of having him meet new dogs, I would allow him to play with those he gets along with (as long as you are 100% sure) and then teach him to give you eye contact or give you another behavior rather than paying attention to other dogs. If his focus is on you and your commands it gives you time to intervene if another dog comes up read this http://www.thedogtrainingsecret.com/blog/eye-contact-focus-behavior-broken/

    [Reply]

    Audrey Reply:

    Thanks for your advise. We will work hard on eye-contact, hope it’s not too late since he already 2.5 yrs old.
    What about when other dogs approaches us on the street, should I just pull him away and keep walking until we’ve mastered this skill and I’m 100% sure it’ll be ok to greet other dogs?

    Thanks

    [Reply]

  74. Niki says:

    I have a dog that is pretty friendly. He will jump up on the sofa and cuddle with everyone in my home, except me!!!! When I call him he will jump on my daughter and start to kiss her. Then look at me, I can’t get him to show me any affection. He comes to me only when he wants to eat or go outside. I’m starting to feel used, Why does he do that?????!!!!

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Probably because you are in charge of the household and he has more respect for you.

    When a dog sees someone they consider leader, they don’t get into the face of that person as in the dog world this can be seen as disrespect.

    [Reply]

  75. Mary says:

    Sorry, but you are off on this one. I have had dogs since I was 5 years old and, yes, some dogs do not kiss or seek out hugging. Others do.

    One of my current dogs actually hugs me. Another lets me know when he wants hugged. The third is careful with his kisses and only occasionally asks for a hug.

    My GSD that I had years ago liked being hugged. The Peke did not.

    It all depends on the dog and how it was handled as a puppy. These behaviors are learned. If a child is not hugged or kissed they can grow up to not want to be hugged or kissed. It has been my experience that this is true with canines.

    And, more importantly, dogs should allow hugging behavior i.e. picking them up and at least allow humans to safely put their faces near theirs. Think vet checking teeth, looking down the throat, removing a foreign object trapped in the dogs mouth.

    Dogs that are taught that kissing and hugging and faces near theirs are easier to handle and in the long haul safer dogs.

    But these are learned behaviors. But, then, most behaviors are learned.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    You are right and you are wrong.

    Not all dogs are the same; it is true.

    I have one dog that loves being hugged and kissed and 2 dogs that don’t. They were all raised the same. I still get in their space and they tolerate it, but they don’t like it and don’t think that you or anyone else they didn’t know could do that to them.

    We can teach our own dogs to tolerate certain things that they might not tolerate from strangers. And, it is much easier to teach people how to treat dogs (and explain dog behavior) than it is to try and force our dogs to accept things that go against their genetic hard wiring.

    Think about it… when was the last time you saw dogs “hugging” at the dog park??

    The reporter from Denver who leaned in to kiss the dog that nearly ripped her nose off would have much rather been told not to get into a dog’s space; than to learn the hard way through reconstructive surgery. The dog’s owner may be able to kiss that dog… but it is best for regular people to stay out of the faces of dogs.

    [Reply]

    jill Reply:

    My dog is from Mexico and I didn’t raise her as a puppy and have no idea who did. She accepts hugs and kisses from human without a problem although she does seem to shake me off like she is wet when I have been petting her for a long time and put her back down on the floor. My question is that she hates other dogs and would never let them in her space or near her food. She does seem to get along with my other rescue dog from Mexico except when it comes to food. She has one set of rules for humans and a different one for dogs.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    You are essentially speaking about a wild animal. She may not seem like it but she has had to rely on herself for life. Most of our dogs have not had to do that.

    For wild dogs, if you don’t protect your food, you’ll die.

    So instead of trying to change who she is (and she probably isn’t capable) you need to maintain and control her environment.

    Feed her in her crate, make sure there is never an instance of shared resources. Work on obedience so that her first reaction is to listen to you.

    And work on eye contact and focus for the dog aggression. We have an aggression program getting ready to start on the 23rd and I think you would really benefit from the videos and interactive environment.

  76. Jennie says:

    I have a rescued Chihuahua female and she is a mixture of emotions. She is an incessant licker or what ever part of my body she can reach. I try to discourage this but it seems to just go past her like the wind. And for some reason she does not like to be petted on her back or close to her tail. She will growl if you touch there but doesn’t snap. The only time she snaps is if you try to cut her toenails. I knew the people that had her and know she had a pretty rough life with them. I try to let her know she is loved and accepted but there are boundaries. I am always gentle with her even in trying to train her (or untrain the bad habits). She is such a precious little thing but she is very needy. he has to be touching me somewhere all the time and anytime I sit she is right in my lap and is perfectly content to lay there and snooze as long as I am still. Any suggestions or advice on what I can do to stop her incessant licking? I have two other dogs and she is fine with them. One is an 85 pound Catahoula Leopard and the other is a male Chihuahua, both neutered. Both love her but lately Ratz, the little male has begun to show his dominance to her and she is very submissive to a point but past that point she will give him as good as she gets. As long as its just light growling etc. I don’t interfere but if it starts getting serious then I separate them for a time out till they settle back down. These times fortunately don’t happen often. Anyway, I love your coloumn and just wondered if you might have some advice to me aabout Midgets licking. Thanks!

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Read this http://www.thedogtrainingsecret.com/blog/caution-dog-control-licker/

    [Reply]

  77. Vic says:

    As plumber I go into many homes with dogs.If the dog is showing shyness I sit on the mat in the entrance and wait until fhe dog comes to me and I even ingnore the dog for 5mins until he is use to me being there. Then I reach under his chin to pet him.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    I would never sit. You are opening yourself up to a face bite.

    Always be defensive and know that any dog may bite. Keep your face out of the face of the dog at all cost.

    Even as a professional dog trainer I never sit when meeting a dog, or get down on their level. I never know when something stressful like a siren or something may startle a fearful dog and the dog could bite. I would much rather be bitten in the arm or leg than in the face.

    [Reply]

  78. Vic Neufeld says:

    If you were a true trainer you would know this.If a dog in a home is skittish and you sit at his level the threatening feeling is reduced. and he becomes more docile. he will calm down quickly and come in curious and start sniffing you. within 5-10 mins he may allow you to pet him. you go on his time not yours.I have worked with police trained dogs which are high strung and it works with them all the time. \you eliminate the threatening position.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    I’m not even going to lower myself to respond to the “true trainer” remark.

    Putting your face, in the face of a dog is not only threatening to the dog, it is also dangerous for you. I truly hope you don’t take a serious bite to the face some day.

    [Reply]

  79. Fiorella says:

    i think it’s just your dog. Most chihuahuas are known for agresive behavior. I actually know many agresive chihuahuas but have met some that are really sweet(very few though), they were adopted.

    [Reply]

  80. Liv says:

    My two dogs are black lab and they love cuddling and me kissing them, they would make that happy sound that they always does when I rub their ears, they just love being kissed on their nose or on their face. They’ve never gave me the ‘whites’ or stiffen, even as a puppy. I used to mess around with them and use to pull their paws/arm to get them on me (sounds horrible but it’s not) now they do it themselves, tell them to get on me and they’ll get on and put their paws right in my face and they do this every single day when they wants ear rubs. It’s all depends on how you bring your pets up, if you bring them up without any kisses or cuddle, they won’t like it

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Not true! Some very affectionate people get dogs who are aloof and don’t like affection and vice versa

    [Reply]

  81. Linda says:

    I have an English bulldog, a pit bull terrier and a Jack-rat. I used to have 2 Chiweenies who recently passed away. All of my dogs kiss people they know. Dogs who come and stay with us quickly learn to kiss by watching the rest of the pack. They kiss the humans, the cats and each other. My Jack-rat won’t kiss strangers if I’m around. They will bark and growl if anybody comes in my room too quickly but if I tell them it’s ok they quickly calm down. I guess it’s a learned behavior in our house. One time a friend introduced me to his American Bulldog. I pet him then said give me a kiss. The dog backed away and looked at me like he was confused and shocked at my presumptuous. His master said “oh no, he doesn’t kiss”. A few minutes later I was sitting next to the dog in the back of his SUV and the dog suddenly turned to me and gave me an unsollicited big slurp on my cheek. His master laughed and said “he never does that”. My dogs and I communicate with each other all the time without verbal commands. I am not a dog trainer, I don’t study dog behavior but my dogs and cats live eat and sleep as a pack and other dogs seem to respond to this. I don’t stick my face in their faces but many dogs will come to me when I meet them out in public. I think dogs who are well socialized and friendly towards strangers know who’s friend or foe by subtle clues in our body language. We don’t read them but they read us.

    [Reply]

  82. Halle C Martinez says:

    Hi my dog sometimes likes to grip the stuff she is gnawing on with her Two Paws And the Object in between its really cute but i wanna know why my dog does it?

    [Reply]

  83. Graciela Hernandez says:

    Before you call animal control take pictures of the puppies specially the one that is chained. So if they can’t see the dogs when they are there they can at list see the pictures

    [Reply]

  84. Mel says:

    I have a pit bull who likes to nuzzle. He will moan at me until I nuzzle him back. Sometimes he will try to nibble on my chin to get my attention or bump me. The nibble on the chin sometimes catches me off guard any tips to stop this behavior.

    [Reply]

  85. Ernie says:

    my female Whippet Lab mix is ALWAYS and constantly licking any and every part of me she can reach and no matter what I do I cannot stop her. Also she is always jumping up on everyone and attempting to lick them.

    [Reply]

  86. Dawn says:

    My 17 year old daughter has a 1 1/2 year old golden retriever puppy since he was 12 weeks old. She spends so much time with, but recently snapped at her when she kissed his face. She’s always been very affectionate with him and he sleeps in her bed. She is heart broken, because he’s a very loveable dog.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Dogs don’t like kissing. He is more mature now and that is reprehensible behavior to some dogs. I would get them into a training class and no more kissing or hugging.

    [Reply]

  87. cj says:

    Definitely get to know your dog well. Our neighbor got my Malinois a bit excited and went to give him some face time. Neighbor realized too late the mistake and got a heavy playful tooth to the nose. he said he knew better but… and when you sit to let the dog get use to you, always have your side to them to keep your face away… and your eyes on them. We rescued our Mal and have him in training, getting to know what training he has had in his past and have found some wonderful things. He has had some serious bite training, responds to quiet commands and hand signals. Get some training so you can always call them off a squirrel, cat or anything they see as prey or threat.

    [Reply]

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