How to Train Your Dog to Not Lick the Baby

Medium
1-3 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

You’ve just had a baby--congratulations! You are so happy to bring your new little one home and hope your dog will love your new addition as much as you do. You have spent hours getting your pup accustomed to baby sounds and a doll, beforehand in an effort to get her ready for the introduction to the new baby. The introduction goes well, no stress, no fuss. In fact, your dog seems to love the new baby, constantly licking her face, feet, and hands. That means she loves her, right? 

Wait a minute, maybe not!  

There are lots of reasons dogs lick, and they are not necessarily to show affection. Dogs lick because they are nervous, to show dominance, or just because something, or someone, tastes good. None of these are reasons to encourage or condone your dog licking your baby. In addition, there are health hazards associated with your dog's baby-licking behavior. Dogs can carry bacteria, viruses, and parasites that are transmissible to humans through saliva and licking behavior. These are absolutely the last things you want your dog sharing with your baby.

Defining Tasks

You want to encourage positive interaction between your dog and your baby, but remember: dogs do not think or form relationships with the same perspective that people do. Dogs have packs and pack members, and view other pack members as part of a hierarchy that they belong to. You want your dog to recognize your child as a member of his pack, but not a subordinate one! To do that you will need to ensure that your dog respects your child and provides personal space that includes not licking your baby. This does not mean the dog cannot show the child affection, but do not interpret interactions from your perspective--ask yourself what the dog is communicating with their behavior towards your child. Licking may be a sign of dominance or nervousness that should not be encouraged but corrected. Also, germs and diseases can be spread by licking that can be a danger to your child or others in the home. Teach your dog that licking any person in the household is unacceptable, and provide other behaviors your dog can perform to get attention and affection so that your dog has a more positive means of interaction. Dogs should approach you or your baby and lie down quietly next to your child, or perform a behavior in order to get attention from the baby and you.

Getting Started

You will need lots of treats to reinforce appropriate behavior.  Invest some time observing and supervising your baby and your dog to catch unwanted licking behaviors. Dogs and babies should never be left together unsupervised, so practicing constant supervision to prevent licking and other unwanted behaviors is a necessary habit to establish. You will want to stop your dog licking, not just of the baby, but of everyone. All members of the household will have to be on board, including guests, in extinguishing licking behaviors.

The Leave It Method

Most Recommended
1 Vote
Step
1
Present treat
Teach your dog to leave a treat that is presented to him. Put your hand around a treat, command 'leave it' and when your dog ceases investigating, say 'leave it' again and provide another treat to your dog.
Step
2
Leave treats on floor
When this becomes established, leave teats on the floor and command your dog to 'leave it'. When your dog complies, provide another, higher-value, treat to your dog.
Step
3
Practice various places
Practice 'leave it' on walks and other times around your home. Have treats available to reward periodically for compliance.
Step
4
Apply to licking the baby
When your dog approaches your baby, observe closely. The minute your dog starts to lick, command 'leave it'.
Step
5
Vary reward
When your dog retreats, provide a treat and lots of praise and affection. Repeat until established and just praise can be provided as a reward for not licking the baby.
Recommend training method?

The Extinguish Licking Method

Effective
1 Vote
Step
1
Ignore licking
Have everyone in the household, including guests to your home, aware of desired behavior change. When your dog licks anyone in the home, ignore until the dog leaves.
Step
2
Reinforce not licking
When the dog has stopped licking and moved on to another behavior, reward him.
Step
3
Remove dog from the baby
When the dog licks the baby, remove the dog from the baby's area by blocking him or directing him to a mat.
Step
4
Reward not licking the baby
When the dog sits quietly next to the baby, or is on his mat, provide a treat.
Step
5
Be consistent
Consistently remove opportunities to lick people. Reward non-licking behavior until licking is extinguished.
Recommend training method?

The Alternate Behavior Method

Least Recommended
1 Vote
Step
1
Teach alternate behavior
Teach your dog a behavior incompatible with licking, such as 'down-stay', or 'roll over'. Provide treats for the behavior and establish consistently.
Step
2
Supervise
When your dog approaches your baby, supervise carefully.
Step
3
Distract from licking
If your dog appears about to lick you baby, make a noise to get his attention and distract him.
Step
4
Command alternate behavior
Provide the command for 'down-stay', or other behavior and treat your dog for performing.
Step
5
Continue
Continue supervising, distracting, and commanding alternate behavior. Your dog will come to associate the baby with performing an alternate behavior for a reward and not licking.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers and Success Stories

Question
Charlie
Boarder Collie and Lab mix
10 Years
0 found helpful
Question
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Charlie
Boarder Collie and Lab mix
10 Years

When I come into the house with my 2 year old grandson my dog is in his face trying to lick and we can hardly get into the door. Also if he is trying to play Charlie is in his face. We are having another Granddaughter and I am afraid it will get worse. If we put up gates so he can't come in he cries and barks which is very annoying. The other problem is when my husband is in the room and our Grandson goes over to him Charlie will growl because if the attention he us getting from my husband. Please help. Thanks Debbie

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
706 Dog owners recommended

Hello Debbie, I suggest teaching the "Out" command and making Charlie leave the area when he is being pushy or jealous. Check out the article linked below. https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ I also suggest working on Charlie's overall attitude and respect by giving him structure and boundaries right now. Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Crate manners: https://thegooddog.net/training-videos/free-how-to-training-videos/learn-to-train-the-good-dog-way-the-crate/ Thresholds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-w28C2g68M Heel article - The turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Heel Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTiKVc4ZZWo The "Working" method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you Additionally, with Charlie on a leash or a back tie, with your help, have Charlie perform commands for your grandson and him toss treats to Charlie when he obeys. Depending on your grandson ability you may have to tell Charlie the command right now. Keep at least a couple of feet between the two while doing this though to avoid any potential issues around food - that is why I recommend a back tie for Charlie. The licking may be related to pushiness and dominance more than just excitement based on how unrelenting it is and the possessiveness/jealousy around your husband. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Coal
Border Collie
7 Years
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Question
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Coal
Border Collie
7 Years

I’ve had my dog since he was a puppy. It was just me and him until I met my husband. He’s been our only dog.
We welcomed our first child last September. Right away, Coal couldn’t care less about the baby. We tried introducing blankets, swaddle wraps, clothes, etc. He was very protective of ME while I was pregnant, and again postpartum.
Our son is now 11 months and crawling ALL OVER. He’s a very active and daring little boy. Nothing stops him. Since our son started crawling at 7 months, Coal will growl when he’s close or simply get up and leave. Now that our son is very close to walking, Coal has seemingly become more possessive of his own toys, our sons’ toys, grunts and licks when our son is trying to walk, and shows his teeth occasionally while our son is crawling close to him. We’re concerned for our sons’ future safety and worried Coal might eventually bite him? Any advise would be appreciated!

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
128 Dog owners recommended

Hello! I think a good starting place is to teach Coal the command "leave it". Dogs often learn to ignore the word "no" since we stay it for everything. Leave it is a command that specifically tells the dog to stop going after, showing attention to, or getting into whatever it is he is fixated on. Teaching “leave it” is not difficult. Begin the lessons inside your home or in an area with very few distractions. Here are the steps for teaching “leave it”: Make sure you have two different types of treats. One type can be fairly boring to the dog, but the other type should be a high-value treat that he finds pretty delicious. You will also want to make sure that the treats are broken up into pea-sized pieces so it won’t take him too long to eat them. Put one type of treat in each hand. If you like to train with a clicker as your marker, you can also hold a clicker in the same hand that holds the high-value treat. Then, place both of your hands behind your back. Make a fist with the hand that is holding the treat of lower value and present your fist to your dog, letting him sniff. Say “leave it” and wait until he finishes sniffing your fist. As soon as your dog is done sniffing, you can either click with the clicker or say “yes.” Then offer him the higher-value treat in your other hand. Repeat until your dog immediately stops sniffing your hand when you say “leave it.” When you say “leave it” and he stops sniffing right away, leash your dog and then toss a low-value treat outside of his reach. Wait until he stops sniffing and pulling toward the treat. As soon as he does, either say “yes” or click and then give him a high-value treat from your hand. Practice this exercise a number of times. Over time, by practicing “leave it,” your dog should stop pulling as soon as you give the cue. When rewarding him with a treat, make sure that it is something good, not plain old kibble. By doing so, you are teaching him that asking him to leave some food doesn’t mean he won’t get anything, but that in fact he might get something even more delicious. When your dog is reliably responding to the cue, you can teach him that “leave it” can apply to other things as well, not just food on the floor. Repeat the exercise with five different items that are fairly boring to your dog. After using five different “boring” items, start using slightly more exciting items. You know your dog, so you alone know what items he would consider more interesting, but don’t jump to high-value items right away. To increase his chances of success at learning the cue, you want to work up to high-value items gradually. If Kleenex or a piece of plastic, for instance, would attract your dog on a walk, don’t start with those. Choose the items based on your ultimate goal: Anytime you say “leave it,” you want to be confident that your dog will indeed leave whatever you are asking him to leave. . The reward he receives when he leaves an item can change as well. If your dog has a favorite toy, squeak it and play for a moment when he comes running to you after leaving the other item of interest. Most dogs love interacting with us, so a moment of praise or play with a toy can be just as effective as a treat. Keep it fun Even though you’re practicing “leave it” as a way to keep your dog safe, you want him to see it as a fun game you play. When your dog is proficient at the game in your home, start practicing in a variety of locations with more distractions.

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Question
Ruby
Boxer
2 Years
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Question
0 found helpful
Ruby
Boxer
2 Years

My boxer is a superb family dog, however when my family visits she is so excited she jumps up.Im afraid she will hit them over.
She adores my 3 year old and 8 month grandsons but will insist on licking them.We have started telling her to leave and rewarding her when she does.Is this ok as we don't want to shut her away.Any other suggestions please.

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
128 Dog owners recommended

Hello! Teaching leave it is perfect for this situation. It will desensitize her to the little ones, without alienating her just like you stated. This method takes longer then doing any sort of active punishment (which I never recommend) but it's best for the long term! Though it sounds like you are doing everything right, I am going to send you tips on teaching leave it just in case. Teaching “leave it” is not difficult. Begin the lessons inside your home or in an area with very few distractions. Here are the steps for teaching “leave it”: Make sure you have two different types of treats. One type can be fairly boring to the dog, but the other type should be a high-value treat that he finds pretty delicious. You will also want to make sure that the treats are broken up into pea-sized pieces so it won’t take him too long to eat them. Put one type of treat in each hand. If you like to train with a clicker as your marker, you can also hold a clicker in the same hand that holds the high-value treat. Then, place both of your hands behind your back. Make a fist with the hand that is holding the treat of lower value and present your fist to your dog, letting him sniff. Say “leave it” and wait until he finishes sniffing your fist. As soon as your dog is done sniffing, you can either click with the clicker or say “yes.” Then offer him the higher-value treat in your other hand. Repeat until your dog immediately stops sniffing your hand when you say “leave it.” When you say “leave it” and he stops sniffing right away, leash your dog and then toss a low-value treat outside of his reach. Wait until he stops sniffing and pulling toward the treat. As soon as he does, either say “yes” or click and then give him a high-value treat from your hand. Practice this exercise a number of times. Over time, by practicing “leave it,” your dog should stop pulling as soon as you give the cue. When rewarding him with a treat, make sure that it is something good, not plain old kibble. By doing so, you are teaching him that asking him to leave some food doesn’t mean he won’t get anything, but that in fact he might get something even more delicious. When your dog is reliably responding to the cue, you can teach him that “leave it” can apply to other things as well, not just food on the floor. Repeat the exercise with five different items that are fairly boring to your dog. After using five different “boring” items, start using slightly more exciting items. You know your dog, so you alone know what items he would consider more interesting, but don’t jump to high-value items right away. To increase his chances of success at learning the cue, you want to work up to high-value items gradually. If Kleenex or a piece of plastic, for instance, would attract your dog on a walk, don’t start with those. Choose the items based on your ultimate goal: Anytime you say “leave it,” you want to be confident that your dog will indeed leave whatever you are asking him to leave. . The reward he receives when he leaves an item can change as well. If your dog has a favorite toy, squeak it and play for a moment when he comes running to you after leaving the other item of interest. Most dogs love interacting with us, so a moment of praise or play with a toy can be just as effective as a treat. Keep it fun Even though you’re practicing “leave it” as a way to keep your dog safe, you want him to see it as a fun game you play. When your dog is proficient at the game in your home, start practicing in a variety of locations with more distractions.

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Question
Molly
Golden Doodle
2 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Molly
Golden Doodle
2 Years

I have recently started my in home daycare up again after 7 years. I am having a lot of trouble with Molly licking the kids in the face , especially when they first arrive for the day. Babies and very young toddlers she is worse with. I can tell that she is very excited and it is worse when they yell or run away . She will follow them. She is a very loving dog and is a standard sized golden doodle so she is at their face level. What can I do to get her to stop this awful habit?
Thanks,

Becky

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
706 Dog owners recommended

Hello Becky, I suggest working on both the Leave It and Out commands. Once pup knows those commands, use the section on How to Use Out to Deal With Pushy Behavior section of the Out article. Reward pup obeying and moving away from the kids when you give the command and she doesn't lick, but moves away instead. Practice specifically at the beginning of the day when you know she tends to do it the most. I would also work on a Place command and train pup to stay on Place while kids are arriving, so you can talk with parents and get kids settled in without worrying about having to enforce Out and Leave It with up close interactions with kids while you are trying to work with parents. Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O75dyWITP1s Out - which means leave the area: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Leave It method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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