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How to Stop Your Dog from Licking You: 9 Simple & Effective Methods

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By Nicole Cosgrove

dog licking

It’s always nice to be greeted at the door with a wagging tail and kiss after your long absence from the house. Even if you haven’t left the house in a week, dogs always seem to be ready with a kiss or two for their favorite person. Unfortunately, some dogs can take it a bit too far.

One or two licks on the face are no big deal, but when they start to go to town it can be annoying, unhygienic, and downright gross. If you have allergies to canine saliva, it can put a damper on the friendship, as well.

So, how do you stop your pet from doing something that seems so natural to them? We have outlined nine easy steps to take you from slobber to serenity—where your dog kisses are concerned, anyway!

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Why Dogs Lick in the First Place?

Before you can solve the problem of too many wet kisses, it’s important to understand why dogs lick in the first place. There are actually several reasons why they do so, and even a few more reasons why your furball may be going overboard.

First, licking is taught to them as a sign of affection at a young age by their mothers. Female dogs lick their newborn pups to get them breathing. They continue to do so to show love, affection, and to clean themselves and their young. Your dog does likewise to you to show how much they love you.

Besides that most basic instinct, dogs can also lick for many other reasons. For example, they may do so because you taste good. They may be bored, or in more serious situations, it may be because of anxiety. It could simply be to get your attention, too.

Regardless of the reason behind the behavior, there are some ways you can curtail their enthusiasm and keep the pooch pecks to a minimum.

dog licking
Image By: huongacs, Pixabay

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The 9 Ways to Stop Your Dog from Licking You Are:

1. Ignore Your Dog

One of the easiest ways to get your pooch to lay off with the licking is to simply ignore it. Unless you are getting kisses when you first walk through the door, your pup may be trying to get your attention. If you ignore the request, they will eventually stop. Once they do, make sure you show them praise. Letting them know a single lick will suffice along with some patient waiting will earn them your praise.

2. Say No to Your Dog

Some canines are a bit slower on the uptake, so they might not take your cue when you ignore them. On the other hand, they may not care that you are ignoring them and take it as a sign to keep going. If that is the case, you may have to take things one step further and give them a solid “NO”. Don’t forget to follow it up with a treat or some praise when they do a good job!

dog scolded
Image credit: William Scott Smith Sr, Shutterstock

3. Shower

If you find that ignoring them doesn’t work, it could mean they are licking you because you taste good. If they stop when you say no but go at it as soon as they have the chance, chances are good your flavor is too tempting to pass up. This is especially true if you find your pup giving extra kisses right after the gym. Dogs typically like the taste of sweat (gross, we know), so they opt to have a lick-a-thon as soon as you get home from working out.

4. Change Your Lotion or Soap

If you are not a gym person but still feel like your pup likes the taste of your skin, it could be due to your lotion or soap. Changing it up could help. Try a different smell or ingredient list. It may get them to leave you be. This is also very true if you use a lot of all-natural and holistic products, as they are more likely to smell like appetizing food.

5. Try Citrus

To continue from the last step, you can also try using lotions or soaps that have citrus ingredients or smells. Dogs are not fond of anything bitter, and they will typically leave it alone. In a more desperate attempt to get your pooch to stop licking you, you can also try bitter sprays. These products are designed to keep your pet from chewing on furniture and other items, but they are often all-natural and harmless to your skin. If you notice your dog goes after one location, you can try spraying some bitter spray on your skin in that area.

Citrus and dog
Image Credit: furbymama, Pixabay

6. Cover Cuts and Wounds

Another reason your pet may be licking you without stopping is that you have a cut or wound. They instinctively lick wounds to heal them, and because they love you, they want to heal any injury they perceive you have. Covering your cuts and wounds with a bandage will not only keep them from licking the area but give the illusion that it is healed. Keep in mind, although dog saliva has some healing properties, it can do more harm than good. There is a ton of bacteria in their mouth, and licking it can cause the wound to reopen and become infected.

7. Divert Your Dog’s Attention

Another reason behind the excess licking could be the need for something to do with their mouth. Dogs pretty much use their mouth in all their activities, from eating to playtime to affection. Giving them a chew toy, a bone, or even something to eat can curb their need to lick. If you find this to be the case, find them a sustainable chew toy that will last. Also, try providing them with some other games or puzzles. Too much licking action can also be an indication that mental stimulation is lacking.

8. Give Your Dog Exercise

Mental stimulation may not be the only thing your canine is lacking. Constant licking can also mean boredom and pent-up energy. Bringing your pet outside for some exercise is a great way to tire them out and relieve the build-up energy. Even if you already bring your dog out for a daily walk, they may need some additional playtime. You can add another walk to the daily routine, or add some outdoor fun like fetch or tug of war.

woman running with dog exercise
Image credit: Freebird7977, Shutterstock

9. DAP (Dog-Appeasing Pheromones)

We bet you are wondering what DAP is, right? It is dog-appeasing pheromones. Unfortunately, your dog may be licking you too much because of anxiety or stress. If that is the case, you need to get to the root of the problem. It could be they need more exercise, or in more extreme cases, it could be separation anxiety that has them licking constantly to comfort themselves. If you find the latter is the issue, using a DAP can help calm them down and ease their kisses.

With that being said, you should always consult your vet before using any type of calming spray or treats. They can also help you get to the root of the issue. For example, your pet may be having some health issues that are causing their anxiety.

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When to Be Concerned About Dog Licking

If you have tried all the above and the licking persists, you should bring your pooch to see a professional right away. As mentioned, anxiety can be the cause of the issue along with OCD. Consulting a vet can help you elevate their worries while also working on a way to find and fix the baseline problem. Unfortunately, some other issues could be at play as well.

Although it is rare, your dog may be suffering from gastric reflux, hip and joint issues, ear or nose problems, and other ailments. They may also be suffering from allergies, and they are trying to get your attention by doing what they would normally do if they could “lick” an allergy.

Either way, if the above has made no difference in your pet’s behavior, make sure you seek assistance to ensure that your pal is not in pain or suffering in any other way.

dog licks hand
Image By: SofiLayla, Pixabay

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Conclusion: Stopping Dogs From Licking You

Over the top licking does not have to be something you tolerate with your pet. Following these simple steps can have your pup giving single kisses, or licks on command in no time. As is with most things with your dog, consistency, repetition, and positive reinforcement are key. You may have to try several of these steps before you hit on the right one, but rewarding them for doing a good job is always a win-win.

We hope these steps have helped you stay a bit cleaner and dryer and created a happier dog to pet-parents relationship!

Looking for more dog-training tips? Check out some of our other posts below:

Featured Image Credit: Art_rich, Shutterstock

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