Why Do Dogs Lick Your Feet?
It’s one of the weirder things that our pups do. Some of us like it, some of us definitely don’t. But why do dogs lick your feet? They do it at the weirdest times (like when you’ve just got back from a long walk) and they seem to really enjoy it. As hard as that is to believe. But is it safe? Should you be encouraging it? There are lots of unanswered questions when it comes to the weird and wonderful ways of our pups, but the answer to this one might be more obvious than you’d think.
Why Are Pups So Slobbery in General?
Licking is a really important part of any pup’s day. They do it to groom themselves, bond with each other, express themselves, and – of course – to plant huge kisses on your cheek whenever they see you. A particularly sloppy dog lick might be a way of them getting your attention too, whether you love it or not.
For many dogs, licking is also a way for them to soothe themselves. The repetitive action can help to calm down nervous dogs and ease their anxiety. If your dog has anxiety issues, you might notice that they overly or even obsessively lick themselves, you, and other objects. If this is the case, you should contact your animal behaviorist or vet to see what could be causing the behavior and what you can do to help.
Dog behavior, such as paw licking, can also be a sign of something else in your canine companion. They might have a physical injury, a parasite infection, an allergic reaction to something, or pain or numbness in the area.
So, Why Do Dogs Lick Your Feet?
It’s not just their own feet that dogs enjoy licking. There are many reasons why your dog licks your feet too!
They’re Getting To Know You Better
It’s a weird way of doing it, sure, but dogs can get quite a lot of information about you from licking your toes. We’re constantly secreting pheromones and other bodily signals that dogs, with their superior ability to smell, can detect and decipher.
Dogs have the Jacobson’s organ in their nasal cavity which lets them smell and taste at the same time. When a dog licks your feet, it can tell what you’ve been eating, taste where you’ve been, and other detective-like things (this is also why dogs smell your crotch)!
In fact, during diabetic training, service dogs are taught to lick and smell feet to detect changes in the blood sugar level of the patient. They really do have an incredible sense of smell!
They Want Attention
Most of the time, dogs love a bit of attention from you. And how do you react when you get a foot dog lick? Laughing? Screaming? Whether it’s positive or negative attention, we certainly give dogs a reaction when they lick our feet.
Dogs might be doing this because they’ve learned that you’re ticklish or that you find it gross – either way, they’ve certainly got your attention.
They’re After The Salt
Absolutely, it’s gross to think about, but dogs like salty treats. And, well, especially after a long walk, your feet are the tastiest of treats!
Are They Telling You Something?
Why do dogs lick your face and hands too? As well as getting your attention, they’re often trying to tell you something. Do they want to go out? Or maybe a treat? It might be their way of communicating with you.
They’re Grooming You
When a mother dog licks her puppies, she’s showing them how to care for others and what affection is. When a dog licks your feet, it might be trying to show you that they love you.
It’s also very comforting for pack animals to groom each other. Licking feet is their way of bonding with you and showing you affection.
Is There Something Wrong?
Dogs can suffer from compulsive behavior and excessive licking. If something has changed at home (for example you’re decorating, there’s a new pet, or a new baby) your dog’s foot licking might increase.
Dog licking is therapeutic for them and a good way for them to calm themselves down. If it’s getting too much though, check with a canine specialist.
Be Honest – Do You Like it?
Dogs are experts at reading people and your dog learns what you like through your reactions. Even if you’re not sure about the licking behavior, unless you firmly tell them that you don’t like it (which most of us can’t do through ticklish squeals) they’ll probably think you do!
Is It OK to Let Your Dog Lick Your Feet?
That’s really up to you! Some owners love it. Some really don’t. If you do like your dog licking your feet, it’s usually perfectly normal and harmless behavior. Dogs lick feet as a way of bonding with you, getting attention, or enjoying themselves.
As long as there isn’t an underlying problem, dogs licking feet is totally OK – as long as it’s OK with you too!
You’ve Made Up Your Mind. You Don’t Like It. But How Can You Stop a Dog From Licking Your Feet?
Some dog owners are not fans of the extra, slobbery attention they get from their furry friends. So how can you stop licking?
The first thing to realize is that your dog isn’t doing it to annoy you. It’s a way animals communicate and in all likelihood, your dog thinks you like it. When your dog starts licking your feet, don’t scold or punish them. Instead, use distraction and positive reinforcement. You could try rolling them over and rubbing their belly – pups love that!
Does your dog usually lick your feet when you’re on the couch? Or maybe in bed? Try to identify the spots where the dog licking usually happens and always have a toy ready. The moment they lick your feet, distract them with a cute toy (a treat also works!) and they’ll soon learn not to do it.
It’s also important to give them plenty of praise and positive reinforcement when they don’t lick your feet. All dogs respond well to positivity and it’s the best way for them to learn new behavior.
It’s also worth trying to find out why you think your pooch is licking your feet. Is it because you’re (perhaps inadvertently) giving them attention? If this is the case, try not to engage in the behavior but rather stand up and walk away. Dogs are highly intelligent and will work out that you leaving means you don’t love a good dog lick.
There are many reasons why your dog licks your feet. Normally, they just enjoy it, think you enjoy it or are trying to get your attention. In some instances, however, they may be doing it because they’re anxious or frightened. You may also notice them licking their own feet more if they have particularly strong feelings or if they’re injured.
Always get veterinary advice if you think the behavior isn’t normal. If you’re not worried and like it, then put your feet up and enjoy!
Does your dog ever lick your feet? What do you do to stop it? Or do you not mind it?
Interested in more doggy foot behavior? Find out why dogs chew on their feet too!