How do I teach a lickin pup enough’s enough?

Licking says I love you, incessant licking says I own you.
So often I’m asked how do I teach a lickin pup enough’s enough?
This is what I hear:

My puppie won’t stop licking me.  My arms, legs, hands, and face get a scrubbing each time I’m near my the little angel.
When I tell my pup that’s enough, he/she won’t stop licking me.  Sitting on the sofa makes my pup think “Oh goody, I get to lick again!”.   What am I to do?

Believe it or not, your pup is playing the alpha role and he/she is winning. Your pup has you figured out!  The constant non-stop licking is their way of “owning you”.  What started as a sweet side effect of having a puppie, has become an annoying trait that needs re-training.  Just a few clicks are enough. It’s not easy letting your pup know when to stop.

I know this all too well, first hand, cause I’m one of the culprits that chose to coo-coo the sweetness of the puppie kisses.  Not all my angels became incessant lickers,  but a few have decided that’s their method for attention and their cravings became insatiable.  I have worked on stopping this and have succeeded in most cases.

Chastising the pup for licking doesn’t work, and the scolding gives you a guilt trip.  First of all, step back and remember, you taught him/her that you loved those “kisses”… now you’re changing your mind?  Confusing the poor pup gets you nowhere.  However, it’s never too late to lovingly show your pup that too much licking does NOT please you.  From day one, of course, it really is hard to stop all those kisses when you are so hungry for the love from your new pup,  but that really is when it should start.  OK, OK, we’re past those first days of sweet love exchanges.  Please, relax, those endearing licks can be curtailed… slowly.

When your pup begins those first licks… let him/her do it along with your nuzzling them, holding them and cooing to them.  That’s what the new pup needs and wants.   When you’ve had enough, that is, once you have given the pup the loving moments of praise and attention they do require, change your behavior and get busy being busy.  Ignore the pup.  Go about doing what you have to do or get some dusting done cause stopping this will take repetition.

Ignoring the pup is essential.  Going about your dusting, we’re using dusting as an example here, the pup is stumbling all over trying to lick your legs and jump up on you.  Hum a little song, but do not coo or offer any attention to the pup whatsoever.  Keep your legs jiggling this way and that,  (great for muscle toning)  so the pup stays back and can’t get close enough to lick.

The pup finally tires of your act and goes to sit down.  Let the pup alone, I mean, pay no attention to him/her at all.

Sit in a chair, not the sofa, and pick up a magazine, pretending to browse those pages, your pup will think it’s time to join you.   OK, here is where we do leg lifts while sitting.  Again, think of a song and hum it or sing it,  music can be good for the soul, so relax, you’re doing both you and the pup a favor.

Repetition of this method of ignoring the pup relates the message that this isn’t the time for their “affection”.  The pup is only trying to offer what he thinks you want.  Remember, you’re the one that started this mess, not the pup.  Correcting this is going to take possibly days and weeks of the same “dancing” routine, also known as fast leg movements, just to keep the pup from getting near enough to lick.  After 3 weeks of this, your mirror will reward you with more well-toned legs and your pup will reward you by giving up chasing those fast moving objects.

The facial licks/kisses:  Each time pup begins this, quickly jerk your head (also a great muscle stimulation for your neck and shoulders).  Don’t gripe, just continue.  Rejuvenation of your bones will be your reward.

What have you got to lose by trying these tricks?  Your personal gain is a more flexible body and bending comes much easier.  Each step gets easier… so get started re-training the angel.  You can limit the holding and loving time until this annoying habit is replaced with the relaxed pup now at ease and happy to just sit with you.  You have years to enjoy your pup, so please take the time to retrain your angel… they’re worth it!

A balance is necessary, too much babying will start it all back up again.  Remember the guilt is in your own mind,  the pup really is rewarded just knowing you are in the same room.  So, let go of the guilt, be happy, sing and dance, jerk your head left to right and enjoy a pup that no longer gives you more licks then you’ll allow.

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