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For some of you it may be hard to understand, but there are dog owners who do not want their dog licking them constantly.
For others, it has to do with their goals for the dog as a working partner – for example therapy dogs are not allowed to lick the people they visit in hospitals or retirement homes for health reasons. Regardless of why you may not want your dog to lick you, the next question – how do I stop him – is a lot harder for most to figure out.
If your dog it not just licking you, but licking furniture, himself, the air, there could be something medically wrong. In addition, licking induces endorphins that makes the dog feel good, so they like to do it.
You can start by making sure you wash your hands and face before interacting with your dog, so that licking you is not as reinforcing as it would be if you had just eaten some chips or are sweaty from a run. If sometimes or some people don’t care if your dog licks then you may want to put it on cue. They know they can lick me whenever, but if I say Leave It they immediately stop licking and leave me alone.

Remember licking is self-reinforcing (because of the endorphins) for a dog, so you need to make not licking more reinforcing in order to be successful. A Man Took a Chance On a Scared Feral Dog, and Transformed Him To A Sweet & Loving Pet! Kristina has owned everything from horses and goats to guinea pigs and birds and of course, dogs and cats.
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The first thing you want to make sure is that your dog is not licking obsessively due to a medical issue. If your dog’s licking is a displacement behavior, then you will need to work with a professional dog trainer in order to stop what is causing your dog to lick. Dogs like our saltiness, not to mention whatever we ate that is still on our fingertips and lips. If your dog already has a Leave It, try it and see if your dog stops when you say it, if the behavior has been proofed enough, they should.

Her mom used to say “Kristina loves all animals and they all love her.” It was this special connection with pets that made her decide to become a Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA). If you don’t have a Leave It, teach your dog the cue first and then work on increasing the difficulty to the licking level.
She is a member of the Association for Professional Dog Trainers (APDT) and the Dog Writers Association of America. Kristina has written for the pet industry since 2009, writing about everything from training and behavior to DIY projects.

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