Everyone likes hugs and kisses, right? Having your dog trained to give hugs and kisses on command can be a fun (and comforting) activity for you and your dog.
In addition to learning a bonding activity, teaching these commands to your pup can be useful because (believe it or not) there are some people who do not enjoy slobbery dog kisses. By training your dog to “Kiss” on command, you will avoid having him indiscriminately kiss everyone he meets – whether they like it or not.
Just like people, some dogs are natural kissers and huggers, while others might need some encouragement to display such affection.
Command 13 – "Kiss" and "Snuggle"
"Kiss" tells your dog to lick your hand or face.
Teaching Method – "Kiss"
Step 1: By now, you know your puppy’s personality pretty well and you know if he is a natural “kisser.” If kissing comes naturally to him and he offers the behavior readily, an easy way to begin training the “Kiss” command is to simply say “Koko Kiss” as he’s heading your way with a gleam in his eye and his tongue at the ready. As you are being licked, say, “Yes! Good Kiss Koko!” When you determine the kissing has lasted long enough, you can ask him for an alternate behavior to stop the kissing, such as “Koko Sit!”
Step 2: Once he is in a controlled position, you can repeat the “Kiss” command and encourage him toward your hand or face by pointing to or tapping where you would like a kiss planted. As always, if he is thinking about it and sniffing your hand or face, encourage him with “That’s It, Kiss,” and once he does say, “Yes! Good Kiss Koko!” followed by an alternate command to stop the kiss-fest, like “Sit.”
Step 3: If your puppy is a standoff-ish kind of guy, you may need to up the ante to encourage him to kiss your hand or face. Adding a dab of something your dog loves to your hand or face will certainly inspire him to come give it a try. Depending on your comfort zone, you can try a dab of peanut butter, doggie toothpaste, or any other similar substance can be used to peak your puppy’s interest in kissing. Please note the word “dab” – it is not necessary to smear the substance all over your hands or face – a little dab will do ya! As your pup learns the “Kiss” command, you can wean him off relying on a substance to lick.
Step 4: As your puppy becomes more familiar and comfortable with the “Kiss” command, you can alternate spots where you would like to be kissed – your hand, your face, your arm, your leg -- any place you point to can be a good spot to plant a kiss. Also practice “Kiss” in different rooms of your house and while you are out and about.
Step 5: Now you can enlist the assistance of other kiss-friendly people. Be sure you are the person giving the command to “Kiss” and indicating where your puppy should kiss (the other person’s hand, face, etc.). You should also be the one to end the kissing by giving an alternate command. If your puppy is a shy guy and reluctant to kiss strangers, starting with a less intimate body part such as a hand will make it easier for him to comply.
Teaching Method – “Snuggle”
The “Snuggle” command tells your dog that you are going to hug him. Your part of the command is the hugging. Your dog’s part of the command is to stay still and quiet while allowing the hug.
Step 1: Start with your puppy in a sit. As you reach for your hug, you should say “Koko Snuggle” as you gently give him a short hug. As you are hugging and he is staying still and quiet, reinforce by calmly and quietly saying “Yes, Good Snuggle.” Try to keep your voice soothing and your energy level calm – you want him to stay quiet and enjoy the hug, not get excited and active.
Step 2: If your puppy gets excited or starts to pull away, correct him with a calm and quiet “No. Stay. Snuggle.” At first, keep your hugs short, ending the hug before your puppy wants to. As he becomes used to being hugged, you can extend the length of your hugs.
Step 3: Once he knows the “Snuggle” command, you can enlist the assistance of other people to hug your puppy, again starting with short hugs, while you give the command.
The “Kiss” and “Snuggle” commands are fun to teach and can help deepen the bond between you and your dog. No matter what your mood is, a nice “Kiss” and a cuddly “Snuggle” can be comforting and brighten your whole day.
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All training tips in this series are from ECAD (Educated Canines Assisting with Disabilities), a non-profit organization dedicated to training service dogs for veterans with disabilities. Learn more about ECAD.