How to Stop a Dog From Licking People

by Kristina de la Cal
    One person's dog "kisses" are another one's "slobber."

    One person's dog "kisses" are another one's "slobber."

    Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images

    Does your dog have a reputation for being a serial licker? Though some find it to be cute when dogs lick them, most people would appreciate it if your dog kept his tongue to himself. Teaching your pooch to hold his tongue can help keep you both out of trouble.

    Step 1

    Let your serial licker know that you do not approve of his behavior. Immediately after he licks you or another person, tell him “no” or “stop” using a firm tone of voice. If the command alone does not interrupt his behavior, repeat the command firmly and clap your hands loudly at the same time to get his attention.

    Step 2

    Ignore your naughty pooch. As soon as you have his undivided attention after giving the “no” or “stop” command, turn your body away from your dog and ask the same of anybody else who may be around. Since even negative attention can sometimes inadvertently reinforce an unwanted behavior, withholding all types of attention during misbehavior communicates to your dog that his conduct is not acceptable.

    Step 3

    Catch your pooch being good. Positive reinforcement is all about rewarding your dog’s good behavior. When he is not licking people, shower your dog with affection, attention and perhaps a tasty treat. The point is to help your serial licker figure out that good things will come his way when he is not licking people, but he gets a whole lot of nothing when he is.

    Step 4

    Redirect your pooch’s licking behavior towards an alternate, more acceptable behavior. If your dog is too stubborn to stop licking despite firm commands and withheld attention, interrupt his misbehavior by issuing a command for another action like “sit,” “speak” or one of his favorite tricks. Immediately after he complies with your alternate command, praise your pooch and reward him for good behavior. The point is to help your dog learn that you approve of the alternate behavior but licking is unacceptable.

    Step 5

    Recruit the support of family and friends. It will be very confusing for your serial licker if you teach him that licking is bad behavior but a friend or family member inadvertently encourages this misbehavior by responding to it with attention or affection. Forewarn anybody who will be around your dog that you are trying to stop his licking behavior and let them know what they can do (or avoid doing) in order to support your efforts.

    Tip

    • Consistency is key. You can’t allow or encourage licking in some situations but then forbid it in other situations and expect your dog to understand the difference. If you don’t want your dog to lick, be consistent about teaching him that you disapprove of that behavior.

    Photo Credits

    • Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images

    About the Author

    Kristina de la Cal is a full-time teacher who has been freelance writing since 1991. She published her first book, “Breaking up without Breaking Down," in 2007 and specializes in a variety of topics including, but not limited to, relationships and issues in education. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Florida International University.

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