There aren’t many unpleasant sides to being a dog owner. Dogs are lovely, sweet, and oh-so loyal – sometimes to a fault. They can also be quite entertaining with their individual personalities and seemingly random antics.
While most of their behaviors are cute and adorable, others, no matter how well-meaning, are not so cutesy. Like when Fido decides it would be a great idea to shove his slobbery tongue in your mouth or lick you on the lips. Surely he does not mean any harm by the admittedly kinda gross act, but you may ask, “Why does my dog kiss my mouth?”
Fear not, that slobber on your lips does have a purpose, although that purpose could be any number of things.
When your dog gives you warm, slobbery kisses on the mouth he is smelling the remnants of your last meal, grooming his favorite two-legged family member, enjoys how you taste, or simply just showing you some love.
Regardless, he has a purpose and it would serve everyone well to know what his actual intent is. Keep reading for the most common reasons for dogs kissing and licking you (and others) in or on the mouth.
Why Does My Dog Kiss My Mouth?
14. He Is Uncomfortable
This is usually more so when it is a person that Fido does not know very well. If he feels uncomfortable with this person being in his personal space, he may give a slobbering lick on the mouth to cause them to back away.
This is a learned behavior from the natural response he sees when he licks people on the mouth. You should always discourage people from getting too close to your dog’s face. This is for the safety of the person and the dog.
13. You Taste Good
Humans sweat from practically everywhere on their bodies (some more than others). Not surprisingly, our sweat is quite salty to our canine friends. While our mouths do not sweat, the skin around it, and the skin on your face, do. Your dog could really just be enjoying the taste of his favorite hooman. Totally harmless, unless you stop feeding him, of course.
12. A Reminder To Brush Your Teeth
No, not kidding. A dog’s nose is incredibly strong and they can smell even the tiniest of food remnants on your teeth. Them licking you on the mouth could simply mean that there are some leftovers that they are interested in. If this is his goal then you can just use his kiss as a reminder that it’s time for a good tooth brushing.
11. It’s Called Love
Kissing is a form of affection to pretty much everybody and your precious pooch is no exception. Sometimes they are just bursting with love and affection for you and they just can’t contain themselves. They are very likely to show their affection by licking on the mouth and the more you resist, the more he’ll kiss. Let me love you hooman!
10. Taking In The Scents
Even if you can’t smell the burger and fries that you had for lunch, that does not mean that your dog’s powerful snout hasn’t caught at least a whiff of it on your breath. While attempting to get to those delicious smells, Fido just might feel the need to give you a friendly French kiss. Consider it a doggy dessert. Yum.
09. Marking His Territory
By kissing and/or licking your face and mouth, your pooch is leaving his scent all over, as well as taking in a bit of yours in the process. It shall be dubbed scent-swapping. This is just one way that your dog will mark what he considers his ‘property’. Just be thankful he didn’t use his urine to mark his territory instead :)!
08. It’s A Pack Thing
Canines are pack animals and within their packs, certain behaviors are practiced for any number of reasons. Whether it be grooming or showing an act of submission, licking on the mouth could just be one of your dog’s instinctual behaviors. If you attempt to correct the behavior, try to avoid making him feel more subservient (yelling, physical punishment) as it could defeat the entire purpose of the training.
07. He Enjoys Your Reaction
Depending on your reaction, you might be inadvertently encouraging those doggy kisses. If you laugh or giggle when he does it, it makes him want to do it more. He loves making you happy and will continue the behavior if he perceives it to do so. Controlling your reaction would be the best way to curb the behavior in this case.
06. It Gets Him Attention
Good or bad, your dog is likely always down for some attention. They prefer to be the center of your universe and if it takes sticking their slobbery tongue in your mouth to get your attention, then so be it. Doing your best to ignore him when he attempts a mouth kiss, will eventually discourage him from doing it altogether.
05. Grooming/ Socialization
Dating back to their ancestors, dogs have always used their noses and mouths to communicate and socialize. Now that you are a big part of their ‘pack’ they use kisses and licks to groom and sometimes, even just to say hello!
04. Making Use Of Their Olfactory System
Dogs have more than 200 million olfactory receptors. Their sense of smell is absolutely amazing. The mouth emits scents that humans might not be able to smell but could certainly entice your pooches sniffer. Since you do not want mouth examinations performed by your dog on any visitors, this is a habit that should be broken.
03. Show Of Respect
Many times a dog will show that he is submissive to you by licking and kissing your face or mouth. Licking or kissing as a sign of deference is usually accompanied by other subordinate behaviors such as making himself as small as possible. This goes back to their days in the wild.
02. Possible Obsessive Compulsive
Some experts believe that licking on the mouth could be the result of a type of obsessive-compulsive disorder. This is usually accompanied by other compulsive behaviors or at the very least, your dog feeling compelled to kiss any dog or person he meets on the mouth.
01. Form Of Communication
As much as they would like to probably, your dog can’t simply tell you his wants and needs. They use certain actions as well as body language to get their message across. Licking you is one of the forms of communication that your beloved furball uses to communicate with you. While not allowing mouth kisses is understandable, attempting to correct any licking may cause behavioral issues.
Should I Allow My Dog To Lick/Kiss My Mouth?
This is a completely personal preference. If you do not mind a little doggy tongue action then by all means, let a sleeping dog lie..err lick. However, if you do not want your pooch kissing on the mouth it can be corrected. In order to not cause further behavioral issues, be sure to use proper training techniques. If you are not having much success, a professional animal behavioralist might be needed.
How To Break The Habit
As with any dog training, breaking this particular habit is going to take patience, commitment, and perseverance. A behavior that has been allowed previously can be a bit more difficult to correct. Positive reinforcement, distraction, and behavioral therapy can help. Let him know when he is doing good (praise, treats), and do not punish him for mistakes.
Instead, if he kisses you on the mouth, tell him no in a firm voice and immediately divert his attention to something else. Scaring him could have the opposite effect. Yelling at him might make him more subservient to you, which will make him want to kiss you on the mouth (oddly enough, this does not apply to humans ;)).
Some dogs are just more affectionate than others. This can be down to breed, training, and experience. Teaching a lovable dog to not kiss on the mouth isn’t going to be easy, especially if it is a learned behavior. Whether it grosses you out or not, it is one of the few ways your dog has to communicate with you. He has the best of intentions, cross our paws.