Sunday, 8 January 2012


I let my dogs lick my face, as long as…

A -  I have invited them to do so;
B - They are not in an overly excited state;
C -  They have not been eating anything disgusting;
D - They lick in a respectful manner and know when to stop!

It is normal, healthy expression of joy and affection for a dog to give you one or two gentle licks as a greeting, or to share affection.

Licking behavior is instinctive in puppies. Puppies lick their mother’s face as a sign of recognition and respect. A mother dog will lick her puppies to groom them. A dog will also lick another dog to indicate subservience. 

My Australian Shepherd Tasha loves to groom my Chihuahua Carmen - when Carmen needs a grooming he always goes to see Tasha!

But when a dog licks in a dominating manner (never asks if you would like to be licked but just moves in and takes completely over) or incessantly licks in an anxious manner and refuses to stop it is time to put some limits in place.

Too much licking is not normal and indicates that your dog is either dominating you or is insecure and anxious. Left unchecked this behaviour can become obsessive. It can also indicate that your dog does not know how to relax. That is not good for the dog or you.


If you enjoy getting a ‘kiss’ from your dog but would like to teach your dog that it needs to stop licking after a couple of licks and that it needs to lick respectfully (gently, slowly - not hyper and fast). First make sure that you are not inviting your dog to lick you when your dog is very excited - you can end of overwhelming and stressing your dog! To learn more you can read this short article Affection and Your Dog.

One - Make sure you are calm (without excess emotion), and ready to coach with fair, firm confidence. Don't be aggressive, annoyed, frustrated, angry etc., don't raise your voice in anger. To understand more about how you can make sure you are communicating properly with your dog you can read about the Sensitivity of Dogs and Communication.

Two - Once your dog has licked once or twice you can touch your dog firmly but quickly with your fingers - at its neck or waist, you can snap your fingers and say 'enough' firmly, but not with anger. If your dog is too rough in the way he licks you can follow the same methodology and say ‘gentle’.

Three - Then tell your dog what you would like it to do instead i.e. 'go sit' etc.

Four - Follow through...if your dog goes back to lick you again - don't get angry, simply correct as per the steps above.


If you do not want your dog to lick your face, your hands etc;

If your dog always licks your skin cream off, or is insistently / obsessively licking anything else… here is the proper way to it them not to stop…

One - Make sure you are calm (without excess emotion),and ready to coach with fair, firm confidence. Don't be aggressive, annoyed, frustrated, angry etc., don't raise your voice in anger.

Two - get your dogs attention, you can touch your dog firmly but quickly with your fingers - at its neck or waist, you can snap your fingers and say 'hey' firmly, but not with anger. Never touch or talk in anger as you then lead by the wrong example!

Three - Tell your dog what you want i.e. 'no, don't touch' and then say 'leave it' I have ten dogs - different breeds, from tiny to large - they all understand this type of do the dogs I work with for my clients.

Four - Tell your dog what you would like it to do instead i.e. 'go sit' etc.

Five - Follow through...if your dog goes back to lick you again - don't get angry, simply correct as per the steps above.

And by the way - dogs use the placement of their body to takeover and own space - you can too! If you lean or walk into the space your dog occupies your dog will naturally move out of your space - providing you are calm confident...this is also an excellent way of telling your dog - in a language it understands - to give you space. This helps your dog to further understand that licking and invading your personal space is not appropriate at that time!

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Please note - this article is for information purposes and is not a substitute for an in-person Session with me. When working with dogs I use many techniques - it is important to note that this article may touch on one or several techniques but not all. I select the technique that I use for a particular dog based on my observations of the dog and an intuitive, instinctive assessment of that dog's and its human's individual requirements. For example when I am working with a dog that is hyper sensitive and very physically reactive I will not use voice or touch. I use a lot of therapeutic touch on some dogs, others require the use of herding techniques and so on. Each and every technique must be combined with:
  • an understanding of the real intelligence, sensitivity and capability of dogs;
  • an understanding of how to read a dog's face and a dog's overall body language;
  • an understanding of the full spectrum of ways that humans communicate and dogs communicate; 
  • understanding and recognition of the individual that is each dog - no two dogs are the same...taking a 'cookie cutter' approach to techniques is not the way to work with a dog;
  • a complete recognition and understanding of all the elements that feed a behaviour and create an issue:
    •  the vast majority of people can only identify one or two elements...which vastly inhibits the ability to resolve behavior issues;
    • behaviours do not exist in isolation - there are always many elements that feed a single behaviour, there all always multiple behaviours that create a behavioral issue;
  • self-restraint and discipline on the part of the human who is directing the dog;
  • sensitivity, awareness, intuition, instinct and timing on the part of the human who is directing the dog;
    • to understand, connect with and adapt quickly and effectively to a dog's learning requirements you must be able to employ the same tools a dog uses - acute sensitivity, awareness, instinct, intuition and timing;
  • kindness, endurance, consideration, patience, persistence, perspective, the ability and know how to let the past go, the ability to set realistic expectations at any one point in time;
  • the creation of structure, rules, boundaries and limitations for each situation at the macro and micro level;
  • understanding of all the elements that make up an instruction and direction to a dog...there are multiple steps involved in an instruction - not just one!
  • absolute honesty - if you cannot be honest with yourself you will not be able to communicate clearly with a dog.
These are just some of the techniques that I teach my clients - it is a holistic, all-encompassing approach. If you are missing any one element of the above mentioned your success rate will be affected to one degree or another in implementing the techniques offered in the article presented above.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this post. Our dogs give us kisses and they're wonderful and gentle. They understand "kiss mommy."

    We do get the crazy licks when we're playing with them - is this something that we shouldn't do? It's just sometimes - I'll say their name really fast, in a high pitch and they wiggle and lick like crazy. It's a fun game we play sometimes, but I do know that dogs and people interpret things differently and I'd had to be teaching them something that's wrong. Thanks!


Note -

1.0 Use of Foods, Herbs, Nutraceuticals and Alternative Medicines:

When choosing to use any of the items or protocols in the article above, it is your responsibility to ensure safe use of the item/protocol. Food, herbs, nutraceuticals and alternative medicines all have drug interactions, most have health issue contradictions, some have side effects. Use of substances and protocols are your responsibility. Prior to use of any substance or protocol make sure you do your research - check for all cautions, contradictions,interactions, side effects. If in doubt do not use the substance or protocol. If the substance, or protocol is contradicted for your animal do not use. If your animal has an underlying condition you are not aware of substances may conflict with that condition.

2.0 The Real Meaning of Holistic…

Food, herbs, nutraceuticals and alternative medicines are NOT ‘holistic’ they are a substance and MAY, or may NOT be ‘NATURAL’. It is important to keep in mind that the supplement industry is just as unethical as BigPharma, the Food and Pet Food Industry, and unfortunately many veterinarians.

If you use a ‘natural’ substance (i.e. an herb) you are using a natural substance, this is not synonymous with holistic.

Holistic is a way of approaching life, and within that - overall health, and wellbeing.

Please do not expect a natural substance to miraculously remedy a health or behavioral situation. A natural substance may be used to treat symptoms. However, if the factors causing the underlying issue are not properly identified, analyzed and addressed you do not have a remedy.

Remedy requires a comprehensive approach that identifies root cause, seeks to remove items that trigger, cause or otherwise contribute to issues, and builds a complete, and detailed approach to immediate treatment, remedy, and maintenance of long-term health = holistic.

I offer extensive consultation services - Holistic Diet, Nutrition Wellness and Holistic Behavioral, for people that are serious about looking after their dogs and cats holistically. If you want to engage my services you can contact me via email or phone.

If you are looking for additional free advice, please refer back to the articles on my site, do not contact me via email or phone - personalized service is for my clients / patients only.

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Wishing your dog and cat the best of health!

the Ottawa Valley Dog Whisperer
Holistic Behaviorist - Dogs
Holistic Diet Nutrition Wellness Adviser – Dogs and Cats

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