What’s cuter than getting kisses from your favorite pup? This is a fun and feel-good trick that most dogs of any size or age can master in just a few short training sessions. There are three main ways to teach your dog or puppy to kiss you on cue.
Capturing the Kiss
Because kissing/licking people is something that most dogs will naturally do, you can teach “kiss” by first capturing the behavior. Capturing is a method of dog training where you are adding a cue to a natural behavior your dog already performs. You don’t lure, guide, or prompt your dog into doing a skill, but rather you wait until they naturally offer the behavior, at which point you’ll praise and treat.
Clicker training can be very effective for precisely marking a specific behavior to your dog. If you don’t have a clicker, you can use a marker word like “good” or “yes” to cue to your dog the specific behavior you are rewarding.
Step 1: Try to have treats in your pocket/on you at all times (and a clicker if you are using one) so that you’ll be ready to mark and reward kissing behavior any time it occurs.
Step 2: When your dog licks you, praise/click and treat. Because you are rewarding the behavior, your dog will be likely to start offering it more frequently.
Step 3: After several sessions of rewarding the kiss behavior, you can start to add in a verbal cue of your choice such as “kiss” or “smooch” as your dog is licking you, then praise and treat.
Step 4: Your dog will quickly make the association between the verbal cue and the act of licking you. Next time your dog is near you, give your verbal cue for the kissing behavior, then praise and treat when they do it.
Step 5: Once your dog has experience with this trick, you can begin to experiment with offering different parts of your body, like your hand or your face, for your dog to kiss.
Encouraging the Kiss
Because kissing is a fairly natural behavior for some dogs, you can sometimes make a kissing noise and many dogs will automatically lick you back. If this is the case, you can very easily transition that random kissing noise to be a cue for a kiss
Step 1: Make the kissing noise and, when your dog begins to lick you, praise and offer a treat.
Step 2: After several sessions of rewarding the kiss behavior, you can start to add in a verbal cue of your choice, such as “kiss” or “smooch,” along with the kissing noise.
Step 3: After a few practice sessions, you can start to phase out the smooch noises and instead just use your verbal cue. When your dog offers a kiss, praise and then treat as a reward.
Guiding the Kiss
Capturing can be slower and more challenging if you have a dog who doesn’t naturally lick you. But you can encourage your dog to lick you so that you can put the trick on cue.
Step 1: Start by having soft and very high-value treats like dog-safe peanut butter or spray cheese.
Step 2: Put a little bit of the sticky soft treat on the back of your hand.
Step 3: Hold out your hand to your dog and when they start to lick the treat, praise your dog and say your verbal cue of choice “kiss,” “smooch,” “lick,” etc.
Step 4: Repeat several times using the peanut butter/cheese and then hold your hand out to your dog without the treat and give the verbal cue. When your dog licks you, praise and treat.
Send A Kiss
Once your dog is happily kissing you on cue, you can also ask them to give kisses to people who they’re already friendly and comfortable with. (But keep in mind that not everyone loves dog kisses, so check if it’s okay first.) To do this, have the person hold their hand out to your dog and give your verbal cue to kiss.
If your dog seems confused or uncertain about what you want, it’s helpful to pull out the soft treat (peanut butter or cheese) used above and put a little of that on the back of the person’s hand. When your dog licks the treat, praise, repeat, and then try again without the treat. Very quickly you’ll be able to send your dog across the room to give kisses to your loved ones.