You arrive home from a tiring day at work, kick off your shoes, and lay on the couch to wind down. As usual, your dog comes and greets you, and lay just at your feet. Suddenly, you notice that she is licking your feet and you wonder why. So, what does it mean when a dog licks your feet?
To you, your feet seem disgusting as they’ve been enclosed in shoes all day, but to your pooch, it tastes quite heavenly! In fact, your dog loves the taste of your face, hands, feet, and every part of your body she can reach.
Some pet parents don’t mind this canine behavior, but it really infuriates other people. And if it doesn’t seem to upset you that your pooch engages in foot-licking, it could really bother your guests.
What does it Mean when a Dog Licks your Feet?
Dogs behave and communicate quite differently from humans. The way they act, communicate, and show affection on a daily basis is specific to their breed, and it helps make them the best human companions.
But, why do dogs lick your feet? Licking is an instinctive tendency that dogs love to do, whether they are mingling with other animals, people, or themselves. You have probably noticed that your dog loves to lick your feet, and though it feels eerie, there is actually a purpose to it.
Here are some reasons your dog licks your feet:
1: To Show Respect and Honor
Dogs will lick your feet to show you their respect and honor. It’s their way of assuring you that they are your pet and enjoy being in that role of a furry companion.
2: To Show Attention and Affection
Just like they lick your face or other parts of your body, your dog will lick your feet to give you attention and affection. They also lick your feet to gather information about you and communicate various messages. Whether they are asking for your attention, food, or a walk in the park, they may communicate that by licking your feet.
3: It’s their Nature
Dogs lick things for a few reasons or no reasons at all. The behavior starts when mother dogs lick their puppies. Once puppies learn the licking behavior right from their mothers, it naturally makes them feel loved. As they grow, they begin to engage in licking as a way of showing love and affection to other pets and to their human owner.
4: To Gather Information
Dogs also lick your feet to gather information about you. Tastes and smells can provide a wealth of information to a dog, and your feet have a lot to tell about you. The sweat glands in your feet release substances that can give your pooch information about your mood, where you’ve been, and whom or what you’ve been in contact with.
5: For Positive Reinforcement
Dogs may lick your feet because they usually get a positive reaction for doing so. You might move around, laugh, pay attention, talk to your dog, or even offer a treat when she does it. That provides reinforcement for her to do it again and again.
6: To Bring Pleasure and Enjoyment to themselves
Dogs will lick you to bring themselves pleasure and enjoyment. When pups lick you, their body releases pleasure endorphins. Moreover, your feet are moister than other parts of your body. The sweat and scent of your skin is often more intense in your feet than anywhere else.
Whether they are simply cleaning your feet or loving your scent, there is a good reason as to why dogs choose your feet. Sometimes, dogs can lick your feet to soothe themselves. Since your feet may display your own scent, the taste may soothe any anxiety or negative emotions your dog could be having.
7: A Sign of Anxiety
Some dogs lick more when they feel anxious, so a foot-licking habit can be an indication of an anxiety disorder in some dogs. When this is the case, foot-licking is often accompanied by other signals of stress, such as a crouched posture, panting, yawning, or fast, short tail wags.
When Foot Licking Goes Too Far
If you feel like your pup is licking your feet rather obsessively, it is best to get him checked at the veterinarian. Whether they tend to excessively lick themselves, another pet, or your feet, understanding their motives can help you take proper care of your pup.
If you feel that the licking is a problem, you may want to help redirect their licking at a balanced pace or help them cope and heal any underlying issues they may have. These may include anxiety, fear, or frustration. It may also be a wise idea to help them feel comfortable and safe during stressful times to ensure that licking does not turn obsessive.
However, if your dog is licking your feet out of a desire or need to deliver and receive affection, it is okay to allow them to lick your feet, or even encourage it at times.
How to Discourage a Dog from Licking your Feet
Proper training can help discourage obsessive licking. The best way to do this is to replace the licking with a more acceptable behavior and reward your dog for engaging in the new thing.
For example, you can keep a chew toy with you every time, and when your dog begins to lick your feet, toss the toy a few feet away from your feet. When your pup chases it and grabs it, praise him and offer a treat.
You can also use a puzzle toy with delicious treats in it to make the alternative behavior even more rewarding. Be consistent with your training and your dog will soon learn it’s more rewarding to pick her toy and chew it around your feet than to sit and engage in foot-licking behaviors.
FAQs About Dog Licking Behavior:
What If My Dog Persistently Licks Her Own Feet?
If your pup’s foot-licking habit is directed at her own paws instead of your feet, you may need to take action before she inflicts injuries to her paw or trigger a skin infection. Pups might also incessantly lick their paws as a result of anxiety or a skin condition caused by external parasites or allergies. It’s wise to visit your vet if your dog excessively licks his paws.
Is it bad for your dog to lick your feet?
For some pet owners, a foot-licking behavior may seem odd. And if you have ticklish feet, it can be obviously unpleasant, more so if your pooch’s licking becomes regular. However, licking is perfectly normal behavior for canines. They naturally lick to communicate a message and to study their surroundings.t
What does it mean when a dog licks your face?
It’s a pretty normal social behavior for a dog to lick another dog’s face or their human owner’s face. It is often an appeasement gesture that represents their social deference. It can also be their way of soliciting food, more social information, or even a sign of affection and attention.
What does it mean when a dog licks your ear?
A dog licking your ears is generally a sign of affection. Licking, nuzzling, and even nibbling on your ears can also mean that your pup is comfortable with you. This behavior is more prevalent in dogs that are more submissive in nature.
All dogs want to feel loved, calm and collected. For canines, licking is one way to achieve those goals and communicating with their outside world. By supporting, loving, and allowing your dog to freely express their needs, you can stay more connected.