Join Date: Nov 2013
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Licking is absolutely a natural behaviour, yes, but there are many other natural dog behaviours, such as barking, that left unchecked don't help dogs to fit into our modern lives and families very well. I know two obsessive-lickers, and the obsessive licking that these dogs do actually limits how they can interact with family and friends, especially new people who may not be keen on an endless tongue bath on any area of exposed skin. It means less cuddles and less pets for the dogs as people literally don't want to be near them after a while. And it also makes it hard for anyone who may have dog allergies to interact with your pup as the saliva tends to trigger many people.
So I don't think it's reasonable to ask a dog never to lick, but to have a limit on it and have them earn something preferable when they do stop when you ask. You may want to stay away from using "no" as that might discourage it too strongly, and usually that should mean "That behaviour will not be rewarded". What if "Thank you" or "That's enough" meant "If I stop doing this thing (licking) that is very reinforcing to me, I will receive something I like even more" instead? Beginning of course with food reinforcement, and eventually praise and a pat for complying. That might alleviate some of your concern about saying "No" and the confused and or disappointed look you're perceiving from your pup.
Just my point of view- I'm still learning and continually evolving my point of view on this stuff too!