Some people just giggle and say it tickles, while others say the feeling of their dog’s wet and rough tongue on their skin is very unpleasant. Whatever the human reaction, when your dog gives you a lick on your hand or your face, it’s a sign of affection.
“When a dog licks your face it’s a greeting,” says Bonnie V. Beaver, D.V.M., a professor and chief of medicine at the Texas Veterinary Medical Center at the College of Veterinary Medical Center at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Texas A&M University in College Station. “It’s also the way young dogs show submissiveness to older dogs.”
And while some people like it when their dogs give them kisses, other do not. Some folks can tolerate the occasional wet peck on the cheek, but when it becomes a continuous stream of licking and more licking that’s unacceptable. If you don’t correct him, what starts as affection can become a subtle form of dominance. The more you resist by moving away and saying “Yuck,” the more pushy he gets.
To avoid turning into a human lollipop, reassert your authority by correcting your dog when he licks you. Put his collar and leash on and give him a strong verbal command of “No lick!” of he persists give a short jerk on the leash.
“Alter the licking urge by substituting better,” says Linda Goodloe, Ph.D., an animal behaviorist in private practice in Chester Country, Pennsylvania. Spend more quality time with your dog or give him a new chew toy to occupy his mouth.