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Why Do Dogs Lick Your Feet? 8 Reasons for This Behavior

Kathryn Copeland

Whether you love it or you hate it, one thing is for sure: Your dog just loves to lick your feet! It’s hard to understand why this is — to most of us, feet are smelly and sweaty despite being rather useful parts of our bodies. But why would anyone or anything want to lick them?

Dogs will be dogs and they have their reasons. We found eight reasons that dogs enjoy slobbering all over our feet. We also look at ways of stopping this behavior if it’s something that you don’t actually enjoy.

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1. Tasty Salt

This might sound gross to us, but for dogs, our feet are a nice, tasty, and salty treat. Since our feet tend to be moist and sweaty, they smell even more strongly of us there than almost anywhere else. So, our feet taste nice and smell like us, so your dog is in heaven!

dog in the grass licking nose
Image Credit: 753204, Pixabay

2. Attention-Seeking

When your dog starts licking your feet, chances are that you react. Whether you laugh, yell, squirm, or give your pup a pet, your dog will remember that you gave them attention. Even if the reaction is negative (like yelling), your dog will continue the behavior to get more of your attention.

dog licking woman's feet
Image Credit: IKO-studio, Shutterstock

3. Message

Your dog might lick your feet when they want something. If they want a treat, dinner, playtime, or maybe go for a walk, your dog might lick your feet just like they would lick your hand.

dog tongue
Image Credit: Piqsels

4. Expressing Love

Dogs lick each other and are licked by their mothers as they mature, so there’s an association with affection along with this behavior. This probably also occurs when they’re saying hello to you. Your dog might just be showing their affection and love for you when they lick your feet.

dog licking human feet
Image Credit: KAZLOVA IRYNA, Shutterstock

5. They’re Dogs

Dogs have the Jacobson’s organ, also called the vomeronasal organ, which is located in the dog’s nasal cavity and is linked to the mouth. Dogs use this organ to be able to smell and taste at the same time, which gives them a great deal of information. Essentially, dogs are licking and smelling your feet at the same time — and they’re dogs. They lick everything!

boxer dog lying on carpeted floor at home
Image Credit: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock

6. Enjoyment

This is probably a foreign concept for us. Dogs lick our feet because they really enjoy it. While engaging in licking you anywhere, there are pleasure endorphins that are released, so it just feels good to them.

dog licking man's feet
Image Credit: GagliardiPhotography, Shutterstock

7. Grooming

While dogs are puppies, their mothers give them a thorough licking quite frequently. When your dog licks your feet, grooming might be the objective.

Cretan Hound
Image Credit: Peter Maerky, Shutterstock

8. Anxiety

Some dogs can engage in compulsive licking as a sign of stress and anxiety. It can also be quite submissive in nature. If you get the feeling that their licking has turned into an almost obsessive trait, you should speak to your vet.

Brown dog licking nose
Image Credit: FMNelly, Pixabay

When You Want to Stop It

If the licking is a behavior that you want to discourage, regardless of whether it’s your hands or your feet, you’ll have to take steps to stop it.

You should have a treat or toy on hand, so when your dog starts to go after your feet, you can offer them something else, particularly if it’s an item that they typically like to have in their mouth (like a treat!).

Be sure to use praise and positive reinforcement when your dog doesn’t engage in licking behavior. They’ll eventually learn that not licking you means something nice will happen.

Another option is to just ignore the behavior and walk away. If you don’t give your pup any attention, the licking might just stop naturally.

If the licking continues regardless of the steps that you’ve taken, and you’re concerned that it might be something beyond what we’ve listed here, you should see your vet. There’s always the possibility that there might be a health or behavioral issue.

dog at vet_ESB Professional, Shutterstock
Image Credit: ESB Professional, Shutterstock

Should You Stop It?

On the other hand, if you don’t mind the licking, in most cases, it’s harmless. If you’ve determined that your dog is doing it because they are looking for a little love and affection, then let them lick your feet. It’s all about how animals communicate.

Licking your feet might also allow your dog to engage in behavior that is soothing. This way, if your dog is feeling stressed, licking your lovely salty feet that smell so much like you might make your dog feel calmer.

Just make a point of trying to understand why your dog is doing all this licking so you’ll know when it’s harmless and when it might be turning into compulsive behavior and it’s time to take your pup to the veterinarian.

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Conclusion

Licking is a natural behavior that all dogs engage in. They do it to groom and to express affection and excitement. They’ll lick the family cat, another dog, or your face, and of course, your feet. You can redirect the behavior or embrace it. Just remember to consult with your vet or an animal behaviorist if it seems to be getting out of control.

In the long run, you obviously want your dog to be happy, and if licking your feet makes them happy, then let them have at it! Dogs will be dogs, and don’t we love them for it?


Featured Image Credit: Reshetnikov_art, Shutterstock

Kathryn Copeland

Kathryn was a librarian in a previous lifetime and is currently a writer about all things pets. When she was a child, she hoped to work in zoos or with wildlife in some way, thanks to her all-consuming love for animals. Unfortunately, she's not strong in the sciences, so she fills her days with researching and writing about all kinds of animals and spends time playing with her adorable but terribly naughty tabby cat, Bella. Kathryn is hoping to add to her family in the near future – maybe another cat and a dog.