How to Stop Dogs Licking You

Two Methods:Curbing Your Dog's LickingTraining Your Dog Not To Lick

When your dog licks you, she is most likely doing so to express affection or communicate submission, indicating that she respects you as her master.[1] A few licks every now and then are not a problem and may even be endearing. If your dog licks you or your guests obsessively, however, it may get tiresome very quickly. Perhaps more importantly, obsessive licking is often a sign of heightened anxiety, and should be addressed for your dog’s sake, as well as your own. Learning how to curb your dog's licking tendencies may help you determine if it's just an outpouring of affection or signs of something more serious.

Method 1
Curbing Your Dog's Licking

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    Ignore your dog's licking. If your dog is licking your skin for attention or affection, removing that reward may help curb this obsessive behavior.
    • Don't scold your dog. Even a negative reaction is still, in your dog's mind, a reaction to her excessive licking behavior.
    • Stop what you are doing, stand up, and leave the room when she engages in prolonged licking. This will help reinforce in your dog's mind that licking will not achieve these desired outcomes.[2]
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    Try dog-appeasing pheromones. Dog-appeasing pheromones, also known as DAP, have been proven as an effective means of treating the obsessive behavior that often accompanies separation anxiety in dogs.[3] These artificial chemicals replicate the pheromones released by a nursing mother dog, which can calm anxious or frightened dogs.[4]
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    Change your soap or lotion. It's possible that your dog's licking is caused by a scent or taste that she finds desirable. Try using unscented soaps and lotions, and see if your dog's licking declines.
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    Use citrus-scented skin products. Though there are exceptions, most dogs are generally repulsed by the smell and taste of citrus. Using a citrus-scented skin product, or even dabbing your skin with a citrus rind, may keep your dog from licking your skin.[5]
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    Keep your dog occupied with toys. Burning energy can help curb negative behaviors, so having a range of toys, including a treat-dispensing toy that challenges her mind, may help curb undesirable behavior like excessive licking.[6]
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    Consider medicating your dog. If your dog's licking is part of a larger separation anxiety, you may want to talk to your veterinarian about medication as an option for your pet.
    • Clomipramine is often prescribed to pets with anxiety and obsessive compulsive tendencies. The medication helps to counteract obsessive compulsive behavior like licking.[7]
    • Fluoxetine is another common medication prescribed to pets with anxiety. This medication treats canine compulsive disorder with relatively few side effects.[8]

Method 2
Training Your Dog Not To Lick

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    Reinforce alternative behaviors. One way to help curb obsessive behavior like licking is to reinforce a different, incompatible behavior. An incompatible behavior in this situation would be any activity that occupies your dog's mouth and keeps her from licking you.
    • Start a game of fetch or tug-of-war as soon as she begins licking. This will distract her from whatever anxiety was causing the obsessive licking, and you will make it physically difficult for her to lick you while playing with a toy.[9]
    • Try taking your dog for a walk whenever she licks you. This may condition her to lick you whenever she needs to go out, and it may become less of a compulsive behavior.
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    Give your dog more exercise. A vigorous workout can help tire your dog out, relieving stress and reducing her desire to lick you.[10]
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    Reward your dog's good behavior. If your dog is licking you because she wants your attention, then give it to her while she is behaving appropriately. Rewarding good behavior should take place immediately after your dog has acted responsibly, in order to maximize her association of that action with your reward. Rewarding your dog in this manner will teach her that calm, “normal” behavior is desirable.[11]
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    Train your dog to lick on command. This will help teach your dog that licking is only acceptable when you initiate it.[12]
    • Choose a word to initiate licking. It can be "lick," "kiss," or any other word you want your dog to associate with licking.
    • Hold out your hand while saying the command word you've chosen. You can use a small dab of peanut butter on your hand to prompt licking in the early phases of training. However, this option should only be taken if you know your dog is not aggressive with food.
    • Issue an end command, such as "stop," "no more," or "no kiss." Wait to see if your dog responds on her own. If she stops licking, even for a few seconds, reward her. If not, repeat the command and move your hand away.
    • Praise your dog when she licks and stops on command. Praising your dog's good behavior is crucial in training her to respond to your commands.
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    Be consistent. If you want your dog to stop licking you, you must commit to stopping the behavior altogether. You cannot praise your dog for licking you one day and scold her for the same behavior the next. Doing so will only confuse your dog, making it harder for her to understand what you want from her. Remember, any type of training requires patience, dedication, and consistency.[13]


  • If your dog does not respond to any of the measures you take to prevent her from licking you, she may need more training or medication to correct the underlying anxiety. Contact a certified dog trainer in your local area for more advice.
  • Try to keep your dog busy with something else and don't get too close to her snout.

Things You'll Need

  • Citrus soaps and lotions
  • Treats
  • Toys
  • Leash

Article Info

Categories: Dog Obedience