From the minute they’re born, puppies are introduced to licking. It’s just part of dog behaviour and what they do. Whether its to clean, to show affection, to gain information, or to relax themselves and destress, licking is very much a normal dog behaviour. But let’s take a closer look at feet specifically and answer the question “Why does my dog lick my feet?”

Social behaviour

As we’ve already established, licking is a very normal dog behaviour. When dogs meet each other sometimes younger dogs will lick the lower parts of an older/more dominant dog to show respect. The same may be true of your dog. It may be done as a sign of respect.

Affectionate Companionship

When dogs are in a pack, they will often lick each other. Part of this will be cleaning but it will also be their way of showing companionship and affection to each other. If your dog licks your feet, it could be their way of showing you that they care about you. In the same way they will try to lick your hands or face. If your feet are bare, and easily accessible, they are an easy way to offer a bit of love with a toe lick!  

Attention

If your dog has ever licked your toes – some dog owners love it, some don’t – you’ll know it can be quite tickly! And usually elicits a reaction! If a lick of the toes has created a lively squeal or even a disgruntled reprimand, your dog may have got the message that this behaviour gets attention. And they may then continue to do it. If you like it, then it’s not a problem. But if it’s not your favourite type of doggie affection then you may want to nip it in the bud.

Feeling good!

Dogs love to lick. From the day they were born, licking will have been an important part of their normal behaviour. As they’ve grown and become part of a family, maybe with another dog or more, part of their pack has been replaced by humans. For them, it will still be normal to lick. It makes them feel good as it releases endorphins so it’s a good way to wind down, destress and relax. 

They like the smell!

Unfortunately, human feet can be super smelly and dogs love anything strong smelling! In fact the stronger the better. So a simple answer to “Why does my dog lick my feet?’ is that they taste good. Salty and sweaty to a dog is delicious. Henry loves to give Paul’s legs a good lick after he comes back from a cycle. Plenty of sweat and salt going on there.

Information incoming…

Another reason your dog will lick your feet is because it gives them information about you. If you’ve been out in flipflops or sandals you’ll have picked up odours on your feet. Along with your normal pheromones, sweat and salt there’s plenty for them to lick. They want to know how you’re felling, where you’ve been and what you’ve been up to. Have you met any other dogs? All this information is there on your feet for them to take in. 

Should I stop my dog licking my feet?

If you are happy for your dog to lick your feet, there is no harm in them doing so. You shouldn’t let your dog lick your feet if you have any open wounds. Or if you have recently applied any creams or medication that may be toxic. But on the whole this is an acceptable thing for your dog to do if you are happy with it. It is a personal choice at the end of the day.

When should I be worried about my dog licking my feet?

If your dog’s feet licking appears to be more of a compulsive behaviour, this may need to be looked at by a professional. There are some things you can try yourself to help them lick less.

  • Remove the opportunity: think about when they do it most and try to anticipate and avoid the opportunity arising. You might love having your feet open to the air. But a few days of wearing socks might break the cycle. It might just need the habit breaking to reduce the behaviour.
  • Remove attention: instead of reacting with positive (eg giggling) or negative (eg reprimanding) attention, try just moving away and giving no reaction. Remain neutral by giving no eye contact or feedback. Perhaps move to another chair or leave the room. These subtle messages should indicate that this foot licking behaviour isn’t getting any attention.
  • Use distraction: instead of letting them lick your feet, offer something else. Perhaps a toy to chew on, or if they are really keen to lick, then a lick mat might be the ideal alternative.
  • Remove the smell!: If you know you have quite pungent feet but you’re not happy for your dog to lick your feet, perhaps try having a good foot scrub before you settle for some quiet time with your dog. 

If you are unable to reduce your dog’s licking, your dog may be anxious and need some help and support. Always consult your vet if you are really worried about anything to do with your dog’s health.

If you’ve found this blog useful, check out our other doggie health blogs here.