Aww, check out this cute picture. Looks like Zeke is giving my niece a sweet (slightly gross) kiss. I see a completely different story when I look at that photo. Zeke uses licking as a defensive maneuver. It’s his technique to get people to back off. Zeke has never been much of a cuddler, and when he’s getting more touching or attention than he can handle, he turns to licking to repel the person. The licking might look like kissing, but it’s Zeke’s way of saying “Enough, thank you. I’ll keep sliming you until you leave me alone” On this day he was overtired and slightly freaked out by my niece’s relentless affection. When she crowded him and attempted to engage his tired old bones in yet another round of fetch he began licking her smack-dab in the middle of her face. I intervened and let the poor guy get some rest. Sometimes a kiss is not just a kiss, just like a wag doesn’t always signify canine glee. (Ever heard someone say “He was wagging his tail then he bit me!”?) A tail wag can signify many different moods … you have to look at the entire scenario before you assign an emotion to a dog. Perhaps that tail-wagging biter was backed into a corner, had his hackles up and was giving the person a hard stare as well. Dogs “talk”, but we don’t always listen.
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