Kissing canine: Tips on dealing with a compulsive licker

Dogs just love to lick.
Dogs just love to lick. MCT

Does it feel as if your hand has been given a bath each time you try to pet your dog? Licking is a natural behavior in a puppy’s litter and sometimes continues into adulthood as a sign of affection, means of communication or a greeting. Licking can, however, become a compulsive behavior.

American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen Director Mary Burch offers the following tips to help stop compulsive kissing.

▪ Don’t reinforce the licking. If you happily fuss over your dog as he “gives kisses” to greet you, you'll be reinforcing the exact behavior you don’t want. In many cases, the licking issue began with your dog giving kisses.

▪ Redirect the behavior. Try redirecting your dog to something else, like going outside to play or practicing some obedience skills. Keep timing in mind — you don’t want to start a fun game with your dog when he’s right in the middle of licking. That will reinforce the behavior.

▪ Teach something new. Teach your dog a new skill that involves getting love and attention from you. One example is to teach “get your brush” and spend time brushing your pup after he completes the new command. Brushing is also a great way to bond with your dog.

For more tips on dog ownership, visit the AKC at