How to Train a Puppy to Not Lick

Medium
4-6 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

Your puppy likes to lick. What may have started out as a cute behavior has gotten out of control. Every time there is skin in sight, your pup is licking you. And, even worse, they are licking your guests as well. While some people don't mind a few puppy kisses, not everyone likes to get a tongue bath whenever they are around your dog. Without some form of intervention, this same behavior will likely carry with your pup into adulthood, when licking becomes a lot less adorable.

Defining Tasks

Dogs lick for all kinds of reasons. It is an instinctual behavior that starts in early puppydom. Puppies lick their mother to encourage her to feed them. It is also a way to show submission, so your dog can show they recognize you as their master. A lick now and again is no big deal, but if licking becomes constant you should takes steps to train your puppy to not lick. Since this behavior is natural, it will take a few weeks to see results, especially if your puppy is used to getting positive attention for licking. Be patient and more importantly, be consistent. The only way you can teach your pup not to lick is if everyone in your dog's life agrees to the rules.

Getting Started

A good place to start is identifying when your puppy is most prone to licking. If they seem to be compulsively licking themselves or you, there may be a deeper issue at play. It doesn't hurt to speak to your vet about obsessive licking. As with many other behaviors, you can train your puppy not to lick by rewarding the behaviors you want and not giving a reward for inappropriate ones. The reward for not licking can be a treat, a toy, or simple affection, depending on what works best for your pup.

The Ignore Method

Effective
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Step
1
Recognize what is driving the behavior
Most often, puppies lick as a way to get your attention. Young puppies quickly realize which actions get them the things they want. Be aware of when your puppy licks and how you are responding to it.
Step
2
Take away the reward
If your puppy's licking is driven by wanting your attention, you have to stop rewarding them. Don't scold them though. Even a negative reaction is still a reaction. Instead, when your puppy starts licking you, calmly but firmly say "nope" and turn your face and eyes away from them.
Step
3
Reward your puppy when they stop licking
As soon as your puppy removes their tongue, tell them they are a good dog. You can also give them a treat. Timing is important though. Make sure you only give a treat when your pup is not licking.
Step
4
Add in a cue
Choose a command word you want to give your puppy when you are done with licking, such as "no kiss" or "no lick." When your puppy stops licking you, say the command word and then give them a reward. Over time, your puppy will connect the action with the command and getting something good.
Step
5
Stay the course
Dogs don't really understand gray areas. If one or two people in your puppy's life let them keep licking, they will never fully learn not to lick. Be consistent and follow the same steps every time your puppy licks. In no time, you'll be safe from puppy tongue baths.
Recommend training method?

The Walk Away Method

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Step
1
Make a scene
The instant your puppy starts licking you, say "nope!" Then stand up and storm off. You don't have to be too dramatic about it, but make sure the action comes as soon as your puppy begins to lick so they can connect the cause to the effect.
Step
2
Leave the room
If you can, leave your puppy behind in the room and close the door behind you. Make them wait in the room for 10 to 20 seconds before re-entering.
Step
3
Return to the scene
Once you think your pup has suffered enough, go back to what you were doing before. As soon as your puppy goes to lick you, repeat the same process again.
Step
4
Keep practicing
It may take a while for your puppy to connect you leaving with their licking. There is a good chance that you have been unintentionally rewarding your puppy for their licking for a long time, so they will need to unlearn some bad habits.
Step
5
Give your puppy plenty of attention
Keep in mind that your puppy is probably licking to get your attention, so give them plenty of love when they are not licking. Play with your puppy and make sure they get lots of exercise. All of these activities can help curb your puppy's drive to lick and make the training process go more smoothly.
Recommend training method?

The Find an Alternative Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Stop rewarding your puppy for licking
The first step is to stop giving your puppy any form of attention when they begin to lick you. Don't scold them or make a fuss, simply look away from your puppy when they lick.
Step
2
Choose an alternative behavior
Since your puppy is licking you to get your attention, you can help curb licking by giving them a different method for getting the love they need. Teach your puppy an alternative way to get attention, such as 'shake', 'sit', or 'roll over'.
Step
3
Ask for something incompatible
As soon as your puppy starts to lick you, ask for the contradictory behavior you chose. Ideally, it should be something your puppy can't do while still licking you.
Step
4
Give them lots of love
When your puppy listens to you and performs the alternative behavior, give them lots of praise and attention. The goal is for your puppy to realize that this alternative action gets way bigger rewards than licking.
Step
5
Be consistent
Ask for the same behavior every time your puppy licks you and have everyone else in your puppy's life do the same. You can use this behavior as a way for your puppy to greet new people as well, so they don't begin licking.
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Success Stories and Training Questions

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