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Guide To Australian Shepherd Training & Care

The Secret to Stopping Your Dog From Licking You and Other People

By Anton Hout, author of The Guide to Aussie Training & Care

How do I stop my dog from licking me? That's an all too common question among owners with overly affectionate pups. If you've found yourself getting covered in slobber when you come home, get done with a workout or seemingly for no reason at all, then you can understand how this behavior can quickly become a nuisance. Fortunately, there are ways that you can address licking positively and turn it from a problem to something more tolerable.

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Why Do Dogs Lick?

In order to combat the problem, you first need to understand the reasons for a dog licking people. Most people assume it's simply a dog's version of showing affection, the closest they can come to kissing. This is true to an extent.

Licking is a natural reflex action that begins literally at the moment of birth when a mother will lick her pups to get them breathing. Mother dogs will continue to lick their pups as a sign of affection and attention and so they form that association very early on in their development. Before you start asking how do I stop my dog from licking me, you need to realize that he may be doing it simply to show he cares.

The Secret to Stopping Your Dog From Licking You and Others - Photo: Australian Shepherd lying on her back and licking her nose.

Iulia /

Other Reasons Your Dog May Be Licking You

Showing affection is only one possible cause of a dog licking people. It could also simply be because your salty skin tastes good, which particularly explains why your dog tends to lick you after you exercise. That extra sweat may be gross to us but it's delicious to them! Licking can also be the result of boredom, stress, or anxiety, in which case, it can actually be a cry for help and should be addressed before it leads to potentially destructive behavior.

Young dogs in the wild will often lick their mother when she returns from a hunt in order to get food and that instinct can carry over to our pets, who might be expecting something in return when they lick. Another reason for licking among wild dogs is to show submission. Weaker members of the pack will often lick stronger members so if you are wondering how do I stop my dog from licking me you may want to consider that he's simply acknowledging you as the leader of the pack.

Of course, none of this changes the fact that licking can be annoying and unhygienic. Dogs' mouths can be a breeding ground for any number of bacteria, so no matter how sweet it may be, those kisses could actually be doing a lot more harm than good. So if your dog licking people has become an issue, you'll want to take some steps to discourage the behavior.

Guide To Australian Shepherd Training & Care

How Do I Stop My Dog From Licking Me and Other People?

Fortunately, the answer to how to stop my dog from licking me is usually not that complicated. There are several relatively quick and easy steps you can take to help redirect that energy and keep the kisses to a minimum:

  • Pay No Attention — Since licking is often done to get attention, the easiest solution is to simply ignore the behavior. Once your dog realizes that licking won't get him what he wants he's likely to stop. If simply ignoring doesn't do the trick, adding a firm "no" will usually get the message across. Remember to reward him with praise when he does back off from licking so he gets the message.
  • Change Your Flavor — If you're wondering how do I stop my dog from licking me, remember that he could be doing it because he likes the way you taste. If that's the case, you could change his behavior by making yourself less palatable. No, don't slather yourself in Tabasco® sauce! Instead, try something like showering immediately after exercising to remove excess sweat and try changing up your body wash or lotion to something that doesn't taste as good.
  • Give Him A Distraction — It seems an obvious approach but if you want to prevent the problem of a dog licking people, you need to give him something else to do with his mouth. Try substituting a chew toy, a bone, or a stuffed Kong so that he can get his licking fix without drenching you in slobber. A game or a puzzle is another great way of focusing his attention and getting him engaged.
  • Give Him A Workout — Often licking can often be a sign of boredom or pent up energy. This is particularly true for high energy working breeds like the Australian Shepherd. Aussies are goal centered and if they don't have that goal to focus on they can let that excess energy out in potentially destructive ways. You can help to alleviate this problem by taking them for a walk, letting them run around in the park, or even better, working on trick training so both their body and mind are occupied.
The Secret to Stopping Your Dog From Licking You and Others - Photo: Australian Shepherd licking the face of a lady.

Dogs /

Sometimes, puppy kisses can be great. But, you know what they say about too much of a good thing...

Can a Dog Licking People Be Caused by Something More Serious?

There can be times when a dog licking people is a sign of a more serious problem. Excessive licking can be symptom of anxiety or even OCD and if your dog is excessively licking himself that can be a sign of illness or injury. If none of the steps above have successfully curbed the problem, you might want to consult with your vet to determine if there is some underlying medical cause for the behavior.

If you're asking how do I stop my dog from licking me you're hardly alone. It's an all too common problem but, fortunately, with the right approach it should be fairly easy to redirect your dog's energy and cut the kisses to a manageable amount.

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Guide To Australian Shepherd Training & Care

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