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How to Train Your Dog to Not Lick
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The behavior of a dog licking is very natural. When they are puppies, dogs are licked by their mothers to encourage movement, to show love, to keep them clean, and to provide affection. Dogs grow up using their mouths to explore the world. If your dog licks your face as he greets you, it is because he is saying hello in the way that is most natural to him. Your skin is soft and smooth, which is comforting for your dog. Your skin may even taste salty and yummy for your dog, as much as it may be annoying to people.
Dogs also naturally lick their own wounds to encourage the healing process. Dogs will lick their paws excessively or their skin excessively to groom, clean, and to feel better. Excessive licking can not only be annoying to watch and hear, but it can also pose problems on your dog's skin. Licking wounds could cause potential bacterial infections or even pull stitches out if your dog has had recent surgery. Licking a paw excessively could indicate an injury you may know nothing about. At the same time, obsessively licking an injury could cause more damage.
Once you know your dog is safe, not injured, and only licking because of habit, you may want to begin to correct compulsive licking.
To ensure your dog is not licking his body excessively for medical reasons, be sure to have your dog evaluated by your veterinarian. Your veterinarian can check for things such as hay fever and allergy-related skin conditions. You can also talk about obsessive-compulsive disorders such as stress and separation anxiety.
Once your dog is cleared medically, if he is licking you to provide sweet puppy kisses or licking his body simply as a compulsive behavior you can address these problems with some retraining, positive reinforcement, patience, and lots of treats. Licking is a habit that takes time to forget. It might take your dog several weeks to forget this bad habit and replace it with a new habit.
The Kisses Greeting Method
If your dog is used to licking you as a greeting, turn your face away to encourage the dog not to lick your face.
The moment your dog's tongue is withdrawn and away from your face, offer him a treat and attention by way of petting.
You can train your dog alternative ways of greeting such as the “give me your paw” command or a “sit” command, so you have a chance to pet and greet your dog without being licked in the face.
Practice and reward
As you are training these commands, turn your head away from your dog's face any time he tries to lick you. Once your dog pulls his tongue in and away from your face, give him a treat and some affection by way of petting.
Over time, your dog will be used to an alternative greeting such as remaining calm with his tongue in his mouth or sitting and waiting for a good petting from you.
The Distraction Method
If your dog is always licking his own body, you will need to begin to retrain and provide distractions.
When you see your dog licking his paws incessantly, for instance, offer him a toy to chew.
While your dog chews on his toy, offer him a petting and a treat for every few minutes he is not licking his body.
Repeat and reward
Repeat this process every time you see your dog licking obsessively. Be sure to reward good behavior with treats when he pulls away from licking his paws or other areas on his body.
Eventually, your dog will find entertainment elsewhere, such as a toy, and recognize the reward in treats when he is not licking obsessively.
The Give Paw Method
Ask your dog to sit and offer a treat when he obeys. If your dog does not sit immediately, go back and revisit this command with your dog so every time you say the command, “sit,” he knows what to do.
Introduce a treat
Holding a treat in one closed hand show it to your dog but don't allow him to eat it.
Give the command, “give me your paw,” and wave the treat in your closed hand under your dog's nose.
Wait patiently for your dog to paw at your hand trying to get to the treat inside your closed fist. Your dog may sniff your hand, but stand firm and wait for that paw to come up to try to open your hand to release the treat.
Once the paw comes up and touches your hands to release the treat, tell him good boy, open your hand, and allow him to eat his reward.
Practice this several times until you can have an open hand with a treat sitting on top, and when you say the command, “give me your paw,” your dog touches your hand with his paw before eating his treat. This training may take several days several times a day to practice, but eventually when you say the command, “give me your paw.” your dog should put his paw up in your hand before expecting a treat reward
Add the alternative to your greeting
As part of the greeting process, before you allow your dog to lick your face to say hello, put your hand out and use the “give me your paw” command. Once your dog comprehends the command, use this as a greeting every time you see your dog to avoid the puppy kisses.
Ask anyone who greets your dog not to allow puppy kisses and face licking but rather to ask your dog to give them his paw as a greeting. Once your dog has been trained to use shaking your hand as a normal greeting, he will expect everyone who crosses his path to shake instead of offering sloppy wet puppy kisses.
By PB Getz
Published: 09/20/2017, edited: 01/08/2021
Training Questions and Answers
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How do I get my dog to not jump so high on our neighbors´ wall and distract the other dogs?
Dec. 10, 2020
Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer
1133 Dog owners recommended
Hello Randy, Is the behavior always happening when you are outside with pup? Or when you are not there also? If the behavior is happening when you are there, you can teach a Leave It and Out commands, and use a long training leash to enforce pup obeying. Reeling pup in when they don't listen and giving a treat when they move away from the wall willingly. Out: 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 Reel In method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-whippet-to-recall If the behavior is happening when you are not present, in addition to the above training you would also need a way to enforce the new rules automatically. A pet barrier device, which would be placed near the wall and pup wear a corresponding collar, which would correct pup, when they got within a certain distance of the wall, is one option. Another option, is if the wall is part of a physical fence, like a wooden fence that goes around your yard. You can install an invisible fence two feet inside of your physical fence around the yard. The electric fence should help pup not to even approach the physical fence and wall so that he won't have opportunity jump against it to see over. The invisible in-ground electric fence should only be paired with the real fence and not in place of it though, or it will not be effective. There still needs to be a physical barrier so that pup can't just bolt through the electric fence quickly. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
Dec. 10, 2020
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I am trying to teach my dog paw, but he is stubborn and only licks my hand, no movement of any leg. He also pees sometimes if we tell him no or when my husband puts leash on to take him outside
July 15, 2020
Alisha Smith - Alisha S., Dog Trainer
257 Dog owners recommended
Hello! I am going to give you instructions for "high five" which is basically the same. I will then give you information about what sounds like submissive urination. For starters, you never want to grab your dog’s paw to try to teach them to high five. This won’t make much sense to your pup, but also, many dogs have sensitive paws. Grabbing the paw might actually make your dog afraid of the high-five trick. You will want to begin with your dog in a sitting position so they can easily lift their paw and have balance. And grab some treats! Place a treat in your hand and make a tight fist. Hold it at nose level and wait for your dog to grow impatient and paw at your hand. The moment they do, give your dog an enthusiastic “Yes!” then reward them out of your other hand. Repeat this five times. Place a treat in your hand and make a tight fist and hold it at nose level. Before your dog has lifted their paw, say “High Five!.” The moment they lift their paw and touch your hand, give a "yes!" then reward them out of your other hand. Repeat this five times. Next, we want to start reshaping the position of your hand into a true “high five.” With no treat in your hand, hold your flat hand up to your pup with your palm facing their nose. Say “High Five!” then ”Yes!” when they touch your hand with their paw. Reward and repeat. If your dog is having trouble at this stage, it might be because they don’t understand that the game works the same way even when your hand is flat, open, and empty. Before you repeat step three, try each of the following five times. Hold your empty fist in front of your dog. Say “High Five!” then, ”Yes!” and reward. Hold your hand as if you were holding a baseball. Say “High Five!” then, ”Yes!” and reward. Once your dog is consistently high-fiving, begin to slowly reduce the frequency of your treats. Start by rewarding them with food once every other high-five, then every third high-five. If your dog begins to struggle with the game, you know you’ve decreased the food too quickly. And onto info about submissive urination. Submissive urination can be a frustrating and embarrassing problem. Fortunately, it is often easily corrected. Shy, timid puppies are the most likely candidates for submissive urination but occasionally it persists into young adulthood. This problem is most common in female puppies under 1 year of age. Situations that precipitate submissive urination include: Over affectionate greetings Guests entering your home Arguments between people Scolding Loud noises Dogs are social animals that use subtle cues to maintain order and prevent disputes. In order to display deference to a more dominant individual, a submissive dog uses gestures such as averting her eyes, rolling on her back, and urinating. So when a dog feels intimidated or threatened, the appropriate response is to offer a submissive signal. These signals demonstrate that the dog recognizes another individual’s dominance. The urination that occurs is not a spiteful act but a natural part of a dog’s behavioral repertoire. Before embarking on treatment for this problem, it is wise to contact your local veterinarian. He or she will perform a physical examination of your dog to rule our medical problems that may be contributing to the predicament. If medical problems are involved, your vet will discuss the various treatment options with you like surgery, drugs, and/or various coping strategies. Note: Puppies become more confident as they grow older. Most puppies outgrow submissive urination before one year of age. Unfortunately, some owners inadvertently encourage the behavior by coddling their nervous youngster. Touching and praise, which you may believe are reassuring your puppy, are actually telling her, “Continue this behavior; I like it.” Instead, try to ignore timid behavior and praise the puppy when she is acting more confidently. Treating Canine Submissive Urination There are two objectives in treating submissive urination: The first is to increase your dog’s confidence, and the second is to avoid situations in which the behavior will occur until your puppy becomes more mature. Begin by observing which situations elicit the inappropriate urination behavior. Knowing these, you can design a plan of action. Take your dog to non-confrontational training school. Click and treat training is best. A properly trained dog is usually more confident. Try to expose your dog to as many novel environments as possible. But remember, do not coddle. Praise the dog only when she shows confidence and explores the new environment. Encourage confidence by playing tug of war, retrieving games or play fighting. Scolding and punishment DO NOT WORK. They only make the dog feel more powerless and less in control. Do not loom over the dog, touch her nape, or make prolonged eye contact. These are all dominant signs and will be interpreted as such. Ask strangers to avoid greeting your dog or, alternatively, crouch down to the dog’s level, avert their gaze, and gently encourage her to approach. Limiting your dog’s intake of water when you know guests are coming over can sometimes help. Pick up the water bowl (and close the toilet bowl lids) 3 to 4 hours prior to their arrival. Caution: some dogs with medical problems that increase their thirst should never have water withheld. If in doubt, check with your veterinarian. If your dog urinates out of excitement when you return home and greet her, try to downplay the greeting by ignoring her for a few minutes until she calms down. If the problem occurs when friends greet her ask them to do this, too. The above procedures help a great deal in avoiding urination whoopsies until the dog becomes more confident. Positive changes are usually seen in a few weeks, if not sooner. If submissive urination persists after 2 years of age, drug therapy can be instituted at the discretion of your veterinarian. And remember, be patient; accidents will happen. Prevention is the easiest way to deal with submissive urination. The right style of obedience class can be an excellent confidence booster for your dog. Such classes can also open your eyes to the ways that you unconsciously reinforce a negative behavior, and will teach you the importance of well timed praise (and other rewards) in a healthy relationship with your dog. Hopefully this helps! Thank you for writing in.
July 16, 2020