Why Do Dogs Lick Your Feet? The Root Causes of This Dog Behavior

Does your pooch follow you everywhere? Does he worship the very ground you walk on? Does he show his love and affection for you by licking your feet?

Or is there another reason your dog may be trying to get his tongue between your toes? Perhaps he just really loves the taste of your smelly toe jam?

Dog licking his owner's toes

In this article, we’ll examine the different reasons why your canine companion may be obsessed with your feet, chat about if it is okay to let him, discuss when you need to be worried, and explore ways to stop him from doing so.

Licking Behavior in Dogs

It’s no secret dogs like to lick. Licking behavior is normal and common amongst the canine species. They lick for various ways, either to bond, to groom, as a form of comfort, or simply to express themselves.

Dogs may lick themselves, other dogs, objects, or you, and in the case of this article, more specifically, your feet. 

If your dog is licking to the point of obsession, then you may need to look at some root causes of his licking.

For instance, he could be doing it because he is intensely anxious or stressed, and if this is the case, you may need to enlist the help of an animal behaviorist.

Positive Reasons Why Does Your Dog Lick Your Feet

A young woman and her Golden Retriever dog
A young woman hugs her Golden Retriever dog at home

If you can withstand the tickle, it can be pretty cute when your pet licks your feet, and there can be many positive reasons he is doing so. He may be trying to show affection, get your attention, or simply he just likes doing so. 

As long as you have healthy feet and your dog isn’t obsessed, there’s really no reason to stop him from having a good lick every once in a while.

1. Your dog wants to show you love

Feet licking is a form of submissive behavior and a show that your dog simply thinks you are the best. In your dog’s eyes, you are the alpha leader; he shows his love and affection for you by literally worshiping the ground you walk on.

2. Seeking attention

If you laugh or giggle when your dog gets between your toes, he may just be licking your feet to get attention. By getting a positive response from you when he licks your feet, he is encouraged to keep doing this behavior. 

3. Understand where you’ve been

Your feet tell your dog a lot about you, where you’ve been, who you’ve spent your day with, and most importantly, to your pet if there were other animals around.

Your dog’s sense of smell is more than 10,000 times more powerful than yours, and your feet’ scents will relay important information to your dog. 

4. Your feet taste and smell tasty

Dog licking man's feet at home
A dog licking a man’s feet at home

Your feet are generally covered in salt from sweat which can make them surprisingly tasty to your pet.

Your dog also likely is a penchant for anything that smells like you due to the pheromones you release, and these can be particularly ripe on your feet, especially if you’ve been exercising. 

5. Enjoyment

Dogs lick everything, and there doesn’t always have to be a reason to do so. Sometimes they just lick because they feel like it and enjoy it.

While it may seem strange to you that licking your feet gives your dog enjoyment, he is likely experiencing an increase in pleasure-enhancing endorphins when he does so.

6. Comfort grooming

Dogs lick each other to express emotions and groom each other, just think of how a mother dog may lick her new puppies.

As your dog considers you a part of his pack, it makes sense that he engages in a bit of mutual grooming now and again. This is thus actually a great way to bond with your dog. 

7. They’re dogs

Dogs have a sensory organ, the Jacobson’s organ connecting their mouth to their nasal cavity, allowing them to smell and taste simultaneously. This means when your dog licks he is taking in a wealth of information. 

Negative Reasons Why Does Your Dog Lick Your Feet

An English Bulldog begging for food
A hungry English Bulldog begging for some treats – Image source

You may want to stop your dog’s feet licking, not only because you don’t enjoy it, but because it could indicate a more serious issue.

If your dog takes his licking too far, to the point of obsession, he could have a behavioral or health problem. 

1. Your dog is underfed

Your dog’s excessive licking could be a sign that he is hungry. Your dog may think the salt on your feet is going to provide some nourishment to him. That said, if your dog is malnourished, there are likely to be other signs.

2. Your doesn’t get enough attention

As you now know, dogs may lick their owner’s feet as a way to attract attention. This could signify that your dog is bored or lonely and requires additional stimulation.

Taking your dog for a walk or playing with him regularly could help solve this problem. 

3. Your dog has a health problem

German Shepherd with its head on the floor
A German Shepherd dog with its head on the floor

If your dog has a sudden obsession with licking your feet, it may be a sign that he is feeling unwell and is trying to get you to notice.

If you are worried about your pet’s health, it is a good idea to take him to the vet for a complete workup.

4. Your dog has anxiety

Feet licking can signify your dog is feeling nervous or uneasy. This licking behavior is soothing for your pet, much like a baby might suck on a pacifier.

If your dog is experiencing anxiety, there will also generally be other signs, and your vet might need to prescribe anti-anxiety medication to help control it.

6. It may be a compulsive or obsessive behavior

Compulsive or obsessive behavior like liking is often spurred on by an underlying behavioral issue, such as extreme anxiety or attention-seeking. Proper pet training may help to get this unwanted behavior under control. 

What Should You Do If Your Dog Excessively Licking Your Feet?

As long as you don’t have any open wounds or medication on your feet, and granted, you’re not grossed out, it’s perfectly fine to let your pet lick your feet occasionally.

Woman train a dog to sit and wait for a treat
A woman trains a dog to sit and wait for a treat

However, if your dog excessively licks your feet, it could indicate a deeper problem. And then again, some people don’t like their feet being licked.

To prevent your dog from licking your feet excessively, try doing the below list of things.

  • Keep good foot hygiene. Not only will your feet be less smelly and hopefully less attractive to your pet, but if your feet are clean, there is no risk that you could be putting your dog’s health at risk. 
  • Keep your feet away from your dog. Try to anticipate your dog’s behavior and think of ways to keep your feet away from him. This could include covering them in socks and shoes or keeping them elevated and off the ground when sitting on the couch.
  • Move away. Try not to give your dog any positive or negative reaction when he starts licking your feet. Instead, remove yourself from the situation or leave the room. Keep a clear and consistent message, and your dog will come to understand that you don’t appreciate feet licking.
  • Distract your dog. You can try distracting him with a toy if you don’t want your pet to lick your feet. You may also decide to use something to channel his desire to lick in a different direction, such as a lick mat or food puzzle.
  • Use positive reinforcement. If your dog is licking your feet to seek attention, you can use positive reinforcement to stop him from doing so. With proper training, your dog will learn that licking your feet is not a game and not a behavior you want to encourage. 
  • Consult your vet. It’s also essential to determine the cause of your dog’s excessive licking. If you are worried, you may need to consult an animal behaviorist, animal trainer, or your vet.

Frequently Asked Questions

A dog licking paw
Big English Bulldog licking its paw

Why does your dog lick your feet when you get out of the shower?

Does your pet lick your feet when you climb out of the shower? Don’t stress; you are not alone. Your dog may simply be interested in the smell and taste of your soap or moisturizer. 

He may also be a bit confused because you don’t quite smell like your usual stinky self, and so you may also see him rubbing himself on the bathroom floor, trying to get a bit more of the old you back. 

Why does your dog lick their own feet so much?

Paw licking can be a sign that your dog is stressed or that he is feeling uncomfortable or in pain. It could also be indicative of nausea or itchiness.

Licking is soothing to your dog, which is why it could indicate that something is wrong, in which case you will need to uncover why your dog is feeling this way. 

If your pet is only licking one foot, there might be a wound, abrasion, or sting on his paw, or he may have something like a grass seed or burr stuck between his pads.

If your dog’s paws are red, inflamed, or swollen, it could also be an allergic reaction or a burn caused by poison or fertilizer. 

What to do if your dog won’t stop licking his paws?

If your dog doesn’t stop licking his own feet, chat to your vet as there could be an underlying medical problem.

Excessive licking could lead to infection and inflammation, so you’ll want to find out what is causing your dog to lick his feet. 

Licking can also indicate allergies to food or parasites, so you may need to put your dog on a flea medication or switch up his diet. 

Conclusion: Should You Stop Your Dog Licking Your Feet?

It may sound gross, but if you don’t mind your pet licking your feet and you don’t have any health issues or cuts on your feet, there isn’t any reason to stop your dog from occasionally having a lick between the toes.

This behavior can have many positive benefits for you and your pet in terms of bonding and showing affection.

That said, if your dog is obsessively licking your feet or his own, this could indicate a more serious problem or behavioral issue. If you’re worried about your dog’s health in any way, be sure to contact your vet immediately. 

Do you let your pet lick your feet? Be sure to let us know in the comments below.

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