DOGS BEHAVIOR

My dog keeps licking me: why and how do I teach him not to do that?

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As soon as your dog arrives to beg for your attention , he finds it good to lick you. Some will not necessarily be disturbed by this contact when others will see a lack of hygiene and a significant embarrassment.

How first to understand the reason for this contact and especially how to make your dog lose this habit, which, according to you, has become bad, unpleasant or even downright restrictive on a daily basis.

Indeed, any behavior can be tolerated, good or bad, but once it enters an extreme, systematic, and sometimes even unmanageable process, it is important to intervene.

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Why does my dog ​​keep licking me?

First of all, even if it becomes excessive and therefore unpleasant, licking is initially a natural behavior in dogs. More observed in the puppy and being rather related to a period and juvenile attitudes, the adult dog can adopt this behavior as well.

1– My dog ​​licks me because I taught him to do it

Dogs learn by conditioning, meaning that they will be receptive to repeating a pattern of action. Who says repetition says reinforcement and therefore validation . And sometimes, unconsciously, we reinforce and therefore validate repetitions of action patterns which, in fine, do not go in our direction.

The dog being an opportunistic animal, he will always go towards what allowed him to obtain satisfaction. And for the dog, a simple glance, a simple contact, a simple social interaction (even if you consider it “negative” from your point of view) will be a form of satisfaction, reward and therefore validation for your dog.

Thus, if systematically when your dog comes to lick you you pay him special attention (even if it is to “scold him”) , you then validate this behavior and your dog will repeat it to, once again, obtain your attention.

Your dog then understands that licking his master allows him to get his full attention, because, again even if it is to “scold” him, you look at him, you talk to him and you touch him.

2– My dog ​​licks me by mimicry

When he was still with his mother and siblings, the puppy was able to learn by mimicry that licking was a sign of appeasement . Indeed, his mother, to clean and reassure him, got into the habit of licking him.

The dog, also learning by imitation and even by social facilitation, could then reproduce this behavior that his mother had towards him that he considers soothing.

 

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3- My dog ​​licks me out of appetite

Like learning through mimicry and imitation, the puppy can also remember that when he was still with his mother, all he had to do was lick her for the latter to understand that he was hungry and therefore to feed him.

Although this reason for licking can be quite rare, it can still be present and your puppy may reproduce this behavior in the hope of being fed.

4- My dog ​​licks me to relax / calm down

In general, you will understand, the act of licking is a behavior in the puppy which gives it a certain serenity and a certain appeasement: either it obtains the attention of its master, or it reproduces a maternal behavior which reassured it. .

Thus, the act of licking his master can mean appeasing a situation in the puppy or dog.

In addition to wanting to appease a situation, licking can also allow the puppy or dog to calm down on their own when they are in a stressful situation. However, this behavior, in the case of stress, will often be accompanied by other “symptoms” that can lead to anxiety.

An element is often forgotten in the education process

Educating your animal is good, but it is imperative to think about Doing it the right way.

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How do I get my dog ​​to stop licking me all the time?

Tip # 1: Accept occasional licks

As mentioned previously, the licks, if they are not excessive, are in no way abnormal and can quite be present. However, you can very legitimately not want your dog to adopt this kind of behavior, and therefore follow the advice below.

Tip # 2: ignore the licks

If your dog keeps licking you for your attention, you’ll quickly see a change in his behavior if you start to ignore him completely when he does.

Ignoring your dog is : not looking at him, not touching him, not talking to him.

If you manage to ignore him completely, by turning your head and not talking to him, you will quickly find that if he stops it is because he just wanted to get in touch with you.

In many cases, dogs that are ignored (overnight) find other ways to get the attention of their owners! It is up to you to be consistent and to systematically ignore. However, I especially recommend that you follow the following advice:

Tip 3: Be at the initiative of contacts

The fact of ignoring your dog when he comes to beg for attention is not only valid for licking, it is valid for all other forms of requests for attention, whether barking, crying, by jumping, biting, etc.

The goal here is to make your dog understand, over time, that you are the one who decides the start and end of each activity and interaction he has with you.

And since the interruption of social contact (voice, gaze, touch) will be the worst “punishment” for your dog, he will quickly understand that it is by giving up that he will win. Indeed, as soon as he stops his request and gives up making contact with you, at that moment: call him to let him know that he can come and make contact with you.

Your dog understands here that when he begs for attention: he doesn’t get it, whereas when he gives up, he gets it. You then set up a new action plan.

Tip # 4: have a consistent attitude

This advice is very important, the good attitude of the master, but also of all the members of the family is essential!

And when I say “good attitude” I mean of course consistency because it’s not about making your dog go crazy. If you really want to make this behavior disappear in your dog, then ignore and / or systematically prohibit all licks by your dog.

He clearly will not be able to understand if sometimes they are accepted and others are not. Hence the importance of always initiating contacts as a master so as not to have to tolerate or not a request for attention from his dog.

Small aside: if your dog is constantly craving attention, whether through excessive licking or some other way, also ask yourself questions: why is he always asking for attention, is he enough? spent, do we have a consistent attitude with all members of the social group, etc.

Tip # 5: Anticipate Behavior

This advice applies in particular to dogs which will adopt a licking behavior at certain specific times.

Identify these specific moments and offer your dog an activity just before, such as an occupation toy, a tracking game with a throwing of treats in the living room, etc.

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Tip # 6: divert to other behavior

You can also use your dog’s obedience to ask him for something like “to basket” or “stop” or even “you leave” when he begins to lick you.

For this to work, you must have positively and firmly taught these indications to your dog without stimulation, with the right technique adapted to his learning pace and above all with a positive attitude and dynamic.

Tip # 7: Consult a professional

Finally, if despite all these tips your dog continues to adopt this excessive licking behavior, call a professional by consulting your veterinarian occasionally and / or by calling in a professional canine behavior to have it. adapts to your situation, to you but also and especially to your dog.

Bonus tip: Wash your hands (or the parts of your body that your dog always licks) with a lemon product, dogs are not very fond of this substance and will no longer lick the area soaked in the product. of lemon.

Final words and important recommendations

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