How to Stop a Dog From Barking & Licking

Barking is natural, but not always appropriate at home.
Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images

Barking and licking are natural methods of communication to dogs. Barking is used as an alert to danger and as a means of warning off intruders, while licking is used to display affection. To discourage your dog from performing these behaviors, think like a dog. By reacting the way a dog would react, you can demonstrate to your dog that his behavior is unwanted.

How to Stop Barking

Observe your dog’s habits to determine when he is most likely to bark. For example, some dogs go nuts at the doorbell, others bark with excitement when they see you holding the leash. Once you know this, you can create a controlled environment in which to correct his behavior.

Expose your dog to the barking stimulus, such as the leash or the doorbell. Remain calm and relaxed when he barks, don’t shout or gesticulate wildly. Your dog looks to you for leadership; if he thinks you’re freaked out, he’ll continue to give his warning.

Say “stop.” He may not stop immediately, so distract him. Call his name, tell him to sit or simply guide him away by his leash. As soon as he stops, give him a food treat and verbal praise. With sufficient repetition, he’ll learn that resisting the urge to bark has positive outcomes.

Repeat this process daily. With sufficient repetition, he’ll learn that not barking has a better outcome than barking.

How to Stop Licking

Observe your dog and figure out why he is licking. It is most likely a display of affection, but if your dog is a persistent licker, it may be because you’ve inadvertently encouraged the behavior in the past. For example, if he licks you and you go all mushy and fuss him for “kissing you,” it’s no real surprise he seeks to repeat this behavior. If this is the case, your first job is to stop encouraging the licking behavior.

Create a situation where your dog is likely to lick you, for example by crouching down to play.

Mimic the sound of a puppy yelping when he licks you. This is how dogs correct one another when in their litter.

End the play session. This shows the dog that when he licks, the fun he was having comes to an end. By giving him the positive stimulus of play, then removing it when he licks, you show him that his actions have unwanted consequences. This is called “negative punishment."

Items You Will Need

  • Leash
  • Food treats