Teach Your Puppy Not to Lick

How to Lick Licking

If you need to do some training, or retraining, here are some tips to help you, er, lick your dog’s habit.

Turn your face away when your pup tries to lick you. This is a rule that everyone in the family needs to abide by, or your dog won’t learn that the behavior is now forbidden.

The instant your puppy withdraws his tongue, tell him what a good dog he is. If possible, reinforce the praise with a click followed by a treat. Gradually add a cue such as “no kiss” or “no lick.”

Dog trainer Mikkel Becker says you can also teach your dog an alternative behavior, one that’s incompatible with licking you. For instance, ask him to perform a down-stay with his head between his paws or do a spin. Give lots of praise and food rewards when he complies. Any time he tries to lick you, give the alternative cue — “bow your head” or “twirl” or whatever other cue you choose — and reward him when he does the asked-for behavior.

The really hard part isn't teaching your pet not to lick but discouraging other people from letting your dog kiss them. That’s what ultimately made us unsuccessful in teaching Darcy not to share her slobbery love with the world. But if you're serious about stopping the licking, you can try saying, “Please don’t let her kiss you; she’s in training.” Another option is to teach your dog to greet people with a spin, wave or shake rather than a kiss.

In the end, though, getting a little sugar from a dog you love isn’t the end of the world. Just be sure to thoroughly wash your hands and mouth afterward — and maybe swish with mouthwash to kill any lingering germs.

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