The concept of a “kissing booth” as a fundraising attraction at a carnival or some other event is not new. However, doggy kissing booths, where a person pays to give a kiss or hug to a dog or to get a kiss from a dog, is a relatively new trend. As a dog lover and Certified Dog Behavior Consultant, I find the idea of a doggy kissing booth very disturbing. When I privately shared this concern with a group organizing a fundraising event for a local dog park, the leader of the group publically labeled me a “jerk” on the groups Facebook page. If caring for the wellbeing and safety of dogs and people makes me a “jerk,” then I will gladly wear that badge with honor.
So, why am I opposed to dogs being put on display at a doggie kissing booth? The answer is quite simple. Unlike people dogs do not enjoy being kissed and hugged. Any qualified dog behavior consultant will tell you the same thing. In fact, kissing and hugging a dog, even by a child in its family, is often what initiates a dog bite. Putting dogs in a position to be hugged and kissed by complete strangers, in a carnival like atmosphere, is going to be extremely stressful to most dogs, further increasing the probability of a bite. That’s not smart, not kind and not something I would think any dog owner would knowingly do to a dog they truly cared about.
Secondly, but equally important, a doggie kissing booth sets a very poor example for children because it models, promotes and encourages inappropriate behavior by humans towards dogs. Dog bites are a serious issue and Green Acres, like other pet care professionals throughout the country, works hard to educate children and their parents, teaching them how to and how not to interact with dogs. Do the organizers and supporters of events with a doggie kissing booth want to be responsible for a child being bitten in the future because that child saw adults kissing and hugging dogs at the event and therefore thought it is something that is okay to do?
Lastly, having a doggie kissing booth is a potential legal liability for the owner of the property where the event is being held, the organizers of the event and the individuals that are allowing their dogs to participate in the kissing booth. All would be wise to consult with their attorneys and insurance companies before participating in such a venture.
If you want to learn more about canine behavior, canine body language and appropriate human-canine interactions sign up for one Green Acres Kennel Shops dog training classes or seminars. You might also want to investigate the following books and web links.
On Talking Terms With Dogs: Calming Signals, Turid Rugaas, Dogwise Publishing, 2006, An excellent book on understanding a dog’s body language. Includes descriptions of how you can use your own body language to better communicate with your dog.
Stress in Dogs, Martina Scholz and Clarissa von Reinhardt, Dogwise Publishing, 2007, This book outlines the physiology of stress in dogs, signs of stress, and how to make your dog’s life less stressful. It emphasizes that more activity and involvement in dog sports is often not the answer to reducing stress in dogs but can be a major contributing factor. This book is a must read for anyone with an anxious or hyper dog.
The Other End of the Leash – Why We Do What We Do Around Dogs, Patricia B. McConnell, Ph.D., Ballantine Books, 2002, An information-packed, immensely readable book. In it you will learn how to have a better relationship with your dog through better communications. Dr. McConnell clearly explains the manners in which dogs and their people communicate.
Calming Signals – Turid Rugaas – http://en.turid-rugaas.no/calming-signals-photos.html
Poster – Body Language of Fear in Dogs – Dr. Sophia Yin – http://info.drsophiayin.com/free-poster-on-body-language-in-dogs/
Poster – How Kids Should and Should Not Interact with Dogs – Dr. Sophia Yin – http://info.drsophiayin.com/download-free-poster-how-kids-and-pets-should-not-interact/
Poster – How to correctly greet a dog – Dr. Sophia Yin – http://info.drsophiayin.com/how-to-correctly-greet-a-dog-free-poster/
Video – How Kids Should Greet Dogs – Dr. Sophia Yin http://drsophiayin.com/resources/video_full/dog-bite-prevention-how-kids-should-greet-dogs?
Video – Why Dogs Bite and What to Avoid – Dr. Sophia Yin – http://drsophiayin.com/resources/video_full/dog-bite-prevention-psa-why-dogs-bite-and-what-to-avoid
Book Review – Smooch Your Pooch – Dr. Sophia Yin – http://drsophiayin.com/blog/entry/smooch-your-pooch-a-cute-childrens-book-with-unsafe-suggestions
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