QUESTION: While I was hoping for an answer as to why my 5.5 month old beagle licks so much I was instead stuck reading your remark about a bad rating. So, if you would please put the answer back up or answer the question again, I would appreciate it. That is, after all what you do, right? Answer questions about beagle behavior, not worry about your ratings..

ANSWER: Wow, I don't even know where this is coming from. I do not remember or see in my cache ANY questions about licking or from you. Nor do I worry about my ratings. Are you sure you had a conversation with me before? Regardless, I would be more than happy to answer your question if I am able however I think the message sent was quite rude whomever it was intended for. This is VOLUNTEER activity, no one on here has to do this or answer anything. I have been doing this particular column about beagles for 13 years because I enjoy helping others and love beagles. If you would like to write to me with details about your issue I will as I said try to help you out.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: I googled the question tonight and the first hit was your page on this site. I clicked and was disappointed when there was no answer to a question that was asked several years ago, only a response about how badly the person asking about licking had rated you.

My question is the same as theirs. Why do beagle puppies lick so much? They lick everything they can get their tongue on and then just keep going with it. He's 5.5 months old and licks faces, hands, clothes, the floor...anything. Is it to help them get a scent better, or is it just a submissive response?

In my estimation it is a combination of things,especially when we are talking about a 5.5 month old puppy. The mothers lick to stimulate them going to the bathroom,the puppy licks the mother in order to get her to regurgitate food into their mouth. SO some of it is genetic wiring and depending on how old your pup was when it was removed from its litter it may not have gotten those needs fully met. That being said, it can also be a sign of anxiety, affection, submission/dominance and licking other dogs (or us) could be part of a mututal grooming/affection cycle. By the way. beagles have an incredibly advanced sniffer system and don't need to taste to make that connection (as perhaps humans do).  

The important thing is to discourage this. I have a rescue poodle whose whole life revolves around pleasing me and being with me and licking me. He is focused on licking my hand whether it is stationery or in the air, he doesnt care, he will try to get to it in any way he can. I have worked for a long time to reduce this behavior by pushing him away and ignoring him when he does this coupled with saying "no lick". In his case I think it is pure anxiety and a sign of submission, he was rescued by me and remains 100% focused on me, following me everywhere. If he can't lick me he will lick one of the other dogs or himself which then transforms into dominance I believe, wanting them to know that I am his. He is at least trained now to stop instantly if I say his name or say "no lick" but it doesnt deter him from trying over and over and over every chance he has. In this situation it is obviously purely focused on his fear of being separated from me and expressing his anxiety and suibmission.

In a 5.5 month old pup it is more likely related to what I said about mom still BUT it is sounding like it is becoming an ingrained behavior that he uses now for self soothing. This is something you need to put a halt to or it will continue and become an obsession like with what happened to the poodle evidently when he was young. So work on deteringhim by taking your hand face the time away and then ignoring him and saying NO LICK. As well work on trying to bolster his confidence. I don't enough about anything else that is going on with him to tell you the hows or whats....

Here is a good article by a vet that I found
By Rolan Tripp, D.V.M.

The behavior: Excessive or annoying licking of family members or visitors.

Why dogs do it: Licking is a natural behavior of dogs; it's in their genes. Your dog may be trying to get your attention to ask for something, or she may be expressing submissiveness. Licking during greetings often means Hey, welcome home and can strengthen the bond between you and your dog.

However, licking can turn sour if your dog does it to extremes. Most dog-lovers think it's adorable when a puppy licks them, but some puppies turn into lickaholics if their owner's response reinforces the licking.

If you think your dog is displaying poor manners, these tips can help you stay dry.

Training Tips

Nip licking in the bud. The habit starts in puppyhood. If your dog is still a youngster, prevent a future problem by discouraging her when she licks. Pull your hands away, or put the puppy down.

Don't punish or scold. Punishing a submissive dog for excessive licking will make the problem worse. It's as if she's saying, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, and the more you reprimand her, the more she'll apologize. Attention-seekers will be getting just what they want your attention even if it's negative.

Keep greetings low-key. The hardest thing to do is ignore your beloved dog, particularly if you haven't seen her all day. But if she's a licking fiend during greetings, you need to tone her response down. Any attention you give will seem like praise when she's in the process of giving you a lick-down. Walk on by, delaying the greeting until she's calm enough to respond to sit; then you can enjoy a relatively mellow hello.

Ignore her when she's in a licking mood. If you give your dog any attention -- either positive or negative while she's licking, you reinforce the behavior. If she persists, gently hold her back or put your hand underneath her collar to preclude skin contact while you otherwise ignore her.

Teach the kiss command. This is an excellent technique that limits licking while providing an acceptable outlet for the urge. At the same time you'll teach your dog to be a charming hostess. Follow these steps:

Tell your dog to sit.
Present your hand, and say, Kiss.
Let her lick your hand no more than three times the three-lick rule and then immediately pull your hand away and praise her with, Good kiss!
When willing guests come by, ask them to present their hand and command a kiss.
Always interrupt after three licks.
Increase touch when your dog isn't licking. A great way to dispose your dog to refrain from licking is to lavish her with other types of physical affection, such as body massages or coat-brushing sessions. Discover ways your dog likes to be touched and use them to reward her for time spent not licking. You want her to learn that she gets more attention for not licking than for licking.

Tools You Can Use

Kongs and chew puzzles. Divert her attention with a favorite chew toy. When she tries to lick, ask her to sit and then reward her for not licking with a chew puzzle or a Kong stuffed with treats.

Interactive toys. Increase her exercise and time with you by playing ball or Frisbee. If her licking arises from anxiety, interactive games will reduce her stress level.

Obedience class. Many dogs could benefit from a refresher course on basic commands such as sit, down, and stay. Working on these commands can help your dog to control herself when she really wants to lick.

Gentle leader head collar. Your dog should wear this excellent training product during all waking hours while you train her not to lick. Pulling up on the Gentle Leader, when putting your dog into a sit, closes her mouth in a humane way. Praise her for sitting instead of licking.

Dog treats. Keep a sealed container of treats nearby. Call your dog to you, ask her to sit, and as long as she doesn't try to lick give her a cookie.


All Answers

Ask Experts




I am happy to answer BEAGLE BREED SPECIFIC behavioral questions. Please DO NOT ask MEDICAL questions! I am not a vet .


I currently have one adorable beagle, a male age 6.5, a sweet and loving 3 year old female Pit Bull, a cute fluff ball 10 year old male min. poodle and my newest addition a 6 month old male pit who already 50# and is going to probably be twice that when done growing. I have unfortunately lost in the last years 2 beagles and 1 whippet/rat terrier mix. The two beagles lived to 15 and the whippet mix to 13.5, it was so hard to say goodbye to them. I have done rescue work on and off for many, many years as well as fund-raising for the local animal shelter. I worked for a dog magazine in the past (Southern California Dog Magazine). Being a psychotherapist has encouraged me to do in depth studying of animal behavior as well. I have worked with many people to help curb undesirable behaviors in their dogs (or them!) or to form good behaviors. My life is devoted to and surrounded by my dogs........The picture you see here is Zeppelin but we also call him the "miracle dog". He was hit by a car April 2010 while out with the dog walker and had very serious injuries... 4 surgeries and $17,000 later my boy is whole again and back to loving life. He is so special to me and he weathered a lot of pain and trauma yet is still the sweet boy he always was! I also work to stop Breed Specific Legislation and help to get pit bulls adopted.

HSUS, PETA, SPCA DONT SHOP...ADOPT!! Ban the deed, not the Breed!!

Dog Fancy

I am a Marriage and Family Therapist licensed in the state of CA and am also credentialed as a Certified Addiction Treatment Specialist

Awards and Honors
Honored by the Agoura Animal Shelter for my volunteer work.

©2017 All rights reserved.