Do you love dog smooches or do they gross you out? Dogs like to lick us on the face, hands, feet, arms, legs and wherever they can reach. While some dogs may only give a lick or three, other pups just don’t know when to quit. Excessive licking can be an annoyance for you and a turn-off for your non-dog friends. Luckily, it’s a behavior you can modify with lots of training and patience.
Why Dogs Lick Us
Many people see dog licks or kisses as signs of affection. While there is some truth to that idea, dogs also lick humans for other reasons.
• Licking is a natural instinct. Dogs first experience licking as newborns when mothers use their tongues to stimulate and clean their babies. Your dog may lick because he wants to bond with you.
• Dogs learn about us through licking. Dogs gather information about us through scent receptors located in their nose and mouth. Through the sweat and sebum we release, they can tell if we are stressed, afraid or happy. Dogs tend to like licking feet since they contain the most sweat glands.
• Licking feels good. When a dog licks, endorphins are released that allow her to feel pleasure, comfort and safety.
• Dogs show respect by licking. Your dog is indicating that you are in charge and he is the submissive one. In other words, he knows where his kibble comes from!
Is it Safe for my Dog to Lick Me?
You’ve probably heard the old myth that a dog’s mouth is cleaner than a human’s. Well, that’s both true and not true. The kind of bacteria found in both dog and human mouths depends on what’s recently been there. Unlike humans, dogs will eat garbage, raw meat and even poo. They lick privates and sniff butts. But in terms of spreading disease, dog’s mouths are clean. That’s because the bacteria there is species specific; meaning dog germs won’t hurt humans and vice versa. The one exception is rabies, a damaging disease that can be passed from dogs to humans.
How to Get Your Dog to Stop Licking You
Since licking is an ingrained behavior, you’ll need to teach your pup that it’s not acceptable. You’ll need time, patience and consistency to change this habit. When the going gets tough, just remember that your dog wants to please you, so show him how.
• Tell your dog “no” and move away. The first step in the training is to let your dog know that licking you is not okay.
• Teach him a better way. If your dog seeks your attention by licking, reinforce simple commands such as sit, shake, down and roll over. Pile on the praise and reward him when he correctly follows these commands.
• Distract your dog from licking. Interrupt the behavior with a sharp sound or a toy that she can fetch.
• Apply something that taste bad to dogs to your skin. Curb the licking with hot sauce, lemon juice or something equally yucky.
• Pretend that the licking hurts you. Some dogs have responded well when their owners yell “Ouch!” whenever the dog licks them.
• Consider a time-limited “licking session.” Allow your dog to lick you as much as she wants during a set time. Teach her the word “lick” when she’s doing it and teach her to stop with the command “no lick.” Some dogs just need to get licking out of their systems and will be satisfied after the initial greeting.
Dawg Gone Good’s Top 3 Licking Distractions
True Chews Bully Sticks: Dogs love bully sticks and they taste better than humans. Stop the licking with one of these odor-free 100% natural chews.
Kong: Fill a Kong with peanut butter or liver treat and let your dog lick to his heart’s content.