Is It Ok To Kiss Your Dog On The Head? It Depends

HealthIs It Ok To Kiss Your Dog On The Head? It Depends

It’s ok to kiss your dog on the head as long as your dog doesn’t show any signs of aggression or fear. Kissing does not come naturally to dogs, but most dogs will quickly realize this is your way of showing affection. Before kissing your dog, just remember that dogs carry many germs, so do so at your own risk.

This is your best friend in the entire world. You would do anything for your four-legged friend. From chasing waterfalls to cuddling up to a movie, you two are inseparable and do everything together. To show your dog affection, you may spoil them with belly rubs or their favorite treat, but what about a kiss on their head?

For most people, kissing your dog on the head won’t be an issue. But there are a few instances where it should be avoided. In today’s article, we will talk about the pros and cons of kissing your dog on the head. Then we will go over a few alternatives to kisses if you decide kissing isn’t for you.

To Smooch or Not to Smooch?

We get asked this question a surprising number of times each month. Who knew that kissing a dog would be such a controversial topic. The truth is, many dog blogs and magazines make this topic way more complicated than it needs to be.

Here’s the simple answer…if your dog doesn’t seem to mind being kissed on the head and you’re ok with the possible germs that come along with it, then feel free to kiss your dog on the head all you want.

If it seems like your dog has an unfavorable response to getting kissed, here’s why.

Why Your Dog May Not Want to Be Kissed on The Head

Hugs and kisses are a natural way that humans show affection to each other. However, this is not natural for dogs. They may seem uncomfortable or unenthusiastic if you try to attack them with a boatload of hugs and kisses.

They may feel intimidated or threatened if you come for them straight on. You can observe this when dogs meet each other for the first time. They never meet each other face to face. Instead, they start their interactions from the side and sniff each other out.

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When doing this, we suggest really reading your dog’s body language. If your dog remains unfazed and unthreatened, why not give a kiss here or there. If your dog seems uncomfortable or annoyed, you may want to lay low on the kisses or being close to your dog’s face.

If your dog becomes defensive and aggressive, we suggest not attempting to kiss your dog. This is not the dog’s fault, as it is only natural to them. Please note that if your dog allows you to kiss them or be close to their face, this does not mean that anyone can get up close and personal to your four-legged friend.

Consider Your Health Before Kissing Your Dog

Before kissing your dog on the head, understand that it’s not always the “healthiest” thing in the world for you. With that said, as long as you take care of your health, there likely won’t be any issues.

It Can Be Unhygienic

Dogs like to wander anywhere and everywhere. This means they tend to put anything (if not everything) in their mouths. For example, my dog likes to eat anything but his own kibble.

Unlike humans, dogs do not have a shower routine of once or twice a day. Therefore, their fur can hold onto different types of bacteria, parasites, bugs, dirt, debris, etc. Apart from their fur, dog’s mouths are also a breeding ground for bacteria. You may not want to be close to it, especially if your dog was sniffing out another dog.

How’s Your Immune System?

If you have a weakened immune system, we do not recommend giving your dog smooches. Though most bacteria will not harm us, your four-legged friend can be transferring parasites such as ringworms and giardia to you.

You can be putting yourself at risk if you are giving your dog kisses or if they are returning the favor. This can especially be a problem if you do not keep up with your dog’s hygiene.

Please note, this can be serious when you are introducing a baby to a dog. Their immune systems are not fully developed. Just be mindful of this when dogs are around babies.

Teaching Your Dog To Enjoy Kisses On The Head

If your dog seems uncomfortable with kisses, it’s possible to teach them to enjoy your smooches with the “gradual smooch” method.

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Most people do not mind giving smooches to their dogs. When you first get your puppy, they may not understand what kisses and show discomfort. If you gradually introduce kisses to them in a gentle, non-threatening approach, they will be able to associate that with happiness and comfort.

Dogs are very observant animals. They will connect your body language and tone to when you give them kisses. There have been studies that state if the connection from kissing and happiness has been made, some dogs really enjoy receiving kisses.

Remember, when trying to get a dog to enjoy something, treats are your best friend! Give them a few smooches and then give them a treat. Eventually, your dog will relate kisses to treats.

Kisses and Dog Happiness

If you are making the connection between kisses and happiness, this can create a stronger bond between you and your dog. Dogs love attention, especially if it is from you. They may not naturally like kisses, but they may like the meaning behind it. In most cases, this is the first human behavior that they are learning from a young age.

Knowing When Your Dog Shows Affection In Return

When your dog starts to show affection in return for your kisses, they now understand that you’re showing love when you kiss them.

Here are a few signs of your dog showing affection in return:


Licking is the most natural behavior for dogs. This may be a way that your four-legged friend will show you that they love you. Though we are not the same species, this is called “Allogrooming.” You are considered part of the pack. Therefore, your dog may be trying to groom you as a form of belonging.


Another natural way that a dog may show you affection is by wanting to play with you. Most of the time, dogs can be possessive with their own toys. This behavior can be commonly seen when playing with other dogs or strangers. Take it as a compliment if your dog is coming up to you with their favorite chew toy or stuffed animal and begging you to play.


One of the cutest things dogs do is nudging with their nose. Has your dog ever laid next to you and “nudged” your arm, almost like they’re asking you to pet them? This is a sign of affection. If you kiss your dog and they give you a little nudge with their nose, that means they enjoy your kisses.

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Similar to nudging, leaning into you is your dog’s way of saying they’re enjoying the moment. If a dog doesn’t like something, they’ll usually lean away from it. If you kiss your dog and they lean into you, they’re letting you know that they enjoyed what just happened.

Alternatives to Smooches – For Dogs That Hate Kisses

It can be a bummer when you realize your dog doesn’t respond favorably to kisses. The good news is there’s plenty of other ways to show affection. If you want some alternative ways to tell your dog you love them other than kissing, I have listed some actions below that may help your dog understand you more.

Bonding Activities

Stimulating your dog’s mind by teaching him a new trick or skill may be the best way to bond with your dog. Practicing healthy reinforcement and encouraging words during bonding activity will strengthen your relationship with your four-legged friend. This does not always mean learning a new trick, even your daily park trip can do as you play ball or a game with them.


As pack animals, most dogs love being close to others. They may hate hugs, but if you are sitting alone on the couch, they will take the seat next to you. When dogs cuddle, they feel that you are trustworthy. They also feel secure and comfortable by cuddling next to you.


Every dog has their spot. Some dogs will turn and let you rub their bellies, arms, legs, or ears. Once you find their spot, they will melt into your arms instantly. Touch and quality time may be your dog’s top love languages.

Building An Unbreakable Bond

To kiss or not to kiss, the option is yours. We hope that these tips were helpful as you build an unbreakable bond with your best friend. If you have any questions about any of the actions or behaviors with your dog listed in the article, we recommend reaching out to your vet. Now go shower your dog with some belly rubs or kisses!

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Bryan Harkins
Bryan Harkins
Bryan Harkins is an avid dog lover and the proud owner of, a website dedicated to all things canine. With years of experience working with dogs, Bryan is passionate about providing valuable information, tips, and resources to help pet owners provide the best possible care for their furry companions.

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