Skip to Content

5 Tips to Stop a Dog From Licking Your Hands

Do you care if your dog licks your hands?

I don’t mind if a dog licks me, but some people are understandably grossed out by it.

The key to stopping a dog from licking you is to ignore the behavior.

Usually a dog is licking to get attention, so if we stop giving the dog attention for licking she will eventually stop the behavior.

Has this worked for you?

The following are my 5 tips to stop a dog from licking, but let me know your own ideas in the comments.

5 Tips to stop a dog from licking you

It’s actually not much different from stopping a puppy from biting.

How to stop a dog from licking

1. Ignore the dog for licking.

If you don’t want your dog to lick you, then don’t give her any attention for licking.

By giving the dog attention I mean:

  • looking at her
  • talking to her or laughing at her
  • gently pushing her away or holding her collar
  • petting her
  • saying “gross!” in an excited voice

Instead of doing the above, just calmly move your hands out of reach and calmly move away or block her with your body.

Fast movements like flailing your hands around will just energize her and make it worse.

2. Hand the dog a toy to hold.

Give the dog something to hold in her mouth like a toy or a bone.

This is not to reward the licking but to give her something else to do. If you’re worried about “rewarding” her you can ask her to sit first so you’re rewarding the sit.


3. Teach her to sit or lie down before she gets attention.

I’m not saying you have to tell your dog to sit every single time you want to give her affection. But I do like the “nothing in life is free” method of training for dogs in general, especially for dogs that just won’t stop demanding attention.

4. Use a firm no.

It’s OK to tell your dog no! She won’t be afraid of you. It won’t hurt her!

If it helps, you can even gently but firmly put your hand over her mouth as you tell her no. Then it helps to walk away and ignore her.

If your voice doesn’t work as a correction, you can try squirting her with water or using a pet corrector.

5. Put bitter apple spray on your hands.

Bitter apple spray for dogs is a product designed to prevent dogs from biting or chewing. It is made by a couple of different brands. Most dogs don’t like the taste of the bitter apple, but it won’t harm them.

I’ve used it to stop a puppy from biting her leash.

If you put it on your hands, you’ll want to be careful not to touch your mouth or face, because it’s not pleasant for people either.

It’s worth trying a couple of times to help break your dog’s licking habit. You can order it on Amazon for around $7.

Other tips to stop a dog from licking you

– Does your dog love the taste of your lotion or soap? Try switching to unscented.

– Is she just bored? Is she getting enough exercise as well as enough mental challenges like training, tricks, games, puzzle toys, etc.? Does she have things to chew on and play with?

– Teach her to lie down and stay on a dog bed.

– Is she constantly licking guests? Keep her on a leash when they arrive. A Gentle Leader or Halti might even help and see my post Thursday on keeping dogs calm when guests arrive.

OK, how about the rest of you?

How do you stop a dog from licking? What’s worked? What hasn’t?

Related articles:

Stop a dog from jumping

Stop a puppy from biting

Why do dogs lick each other?

JK Lamm

Tuesday 23rd of August 2016

I taught my dog(s) to lick my bent pointer finger on command. Now when I know they want to "give me a kiss" I just ask for one. For them, it's a greeting or welcome. Because we have lots of kids in my neighborhood, they like to get a little lick ... When they ask. I always carry wet ones or pawtizers so I can let the kids wipe their finger when the trick is over. :)


Friday 22nd of May 2015

Haley's not an obsessive hand licker, but once we attended a festival where people were selling their goods. It was very crowded and I had Haley on a short leash next to me. An older lady (vendor) was sitting in a chair near the walkway on the outer edge of her booth and as we passed by her, Haley licked her arm for some reason. The grumpy lady freaked out and said something very nasty which I can't remember. I was surprised by what happened because Haley's never licked a stranger like that before. I apologized, but I had to laugh on the inside because the whole situation was so bizarre.


Tuesday 11th of May 2021

@Elaine, if I licked you, how would you react? Dogs lick thier anuses. Keep your dog home. You chose to have a dog. Others did NOT.

Sam Ivy

Wednesday 20th of May 2015

This is a great post! So relevant because so many dogs lick, and so many people reply with squeals of protest that the dogs misinterpret as play. I love the tips, especially teaching them to sit or lie down for attention instead of licking. Great comprehensive list of options for all training styles.


Wednesday 20th of May 2015

I do not like to be licked at all. Saying the word "no" in a sharp voice has helped me teach all my dogs not to lick me, whether it be on the hand or anywhere else. I think Maya was the most difficult to teach, though, because she just loves to lick when she is excited. She has gotten much better over the years, but she will still sneak in a lick every now and then.


Tuesday 19th of May 2015

Bruce is a covert hand licker. I think he is always looking for treats. Or it is one of his many neuroses.