Why Do Dogs Lick Feet?

Why Does A Dog Lick Human Feets Feature Image

With new dogs, you must understand the world from its perspective. Put yourself in the dog’s shoes to understand just what he is trying to say. Have patience with your puppy, just like you would with a 6-month-old baby.

Some behaviors might be aggravating to you, but you should not take them personally or get angry. And, just like a child who is trying to communicate their neediness through crying, a dog may convey what it wants in various ways, albeit nonverbally. A well-documented way that canines can express their feelings is through licking feet.

4 Reasons Your Dog Is Licking Your Feet

Puppies are helpless at birth. They can’t fend for themselves, see or hear, and need their mother for everything. She is their source of food, protection warmth, and even needs their mother to lick them to eliminate waste gently. 

As a result, puppies tend to pick up their behaviors well into adulthood. Therefore, dogs lick everything from themselves, their water bowl, and even other animals. This behavior goes as far as dog licking toes. Below are some common reasons why do dogs lick your feet.

Explanations - One Of The Reason Why Dog Lick Is To Gain Attention From People

1. Showing Affection

One of the most common reason why your dog licks feet is to show submissiveness. In a canine’s world, this means that you are the boss, and it likes it that way. Being the master, the pooch just reaffirms its social order below you, showing submission when licking your feet.

Moreover, a scientific study showed that individual dogs living in a group portray intimate behaviors such as licking, soothing, and grooming to foster bonds. Such action then means that the dog is grooming you, affectionately thinking you need to be licked to show love. In the animal kingdom, grooming is a sign of affection.

Dogs also release a hormone called oxytocin [1], which is associated with bonding and emotional attachment. If your dog licks you, they feel positive as well, so do not take this usually affirmative act negatively.

2. Gathering Information

Dogs have capable receptors in their nose and mouth, which they trust to process the surrounding information. A human body releases sweat through sweat glands, which are also located on your feet. Dogs can gather lots of data from the salt and other secretions in sweat. The sweat’s smell and taste can give your dog information like your mood, where you’ve been, and with whom or what you were in contact with.

3. Feeling Anxious Or Stress

To dogs, licking is a soothing action that releases endorphins. These hormones make us feel happy, and the dog might just be doing just that to make you feel more comfortable and less stressed.

When your dog was a pup, it probably learned the soothing behavior from the mother, which made it feel loved. Some dogs also increase their foot licking habit when they are anxious.

4. You Unconsciously Encouraged This Behavior

The dog might lick your feet if you have some bit of food on them. Be sure to clean up, or your dog will be anticipating when to lick your feet, which also have tasty salt in the sweat. Yes, some studies show that dogs love the taste of salt, which can stimulate their nerves.

Also, dogs are adept at reading people, and if you show them traits like licking your feet is okay, they’ll continue with this trend. Maybe your dog realizes that you like it when they lick your shin to console and soothe you.

Strategy To Stop Such Issues And Habit

How To Prevent Your Dog From Licking Your Feet?

Some people don’t mind their dogs licking their foot, while others find it unbearable. Feet feeling tickled is unideal for many people, who also won’t appreciate their dogs adding to this feeling. Fortunately, dog owners can rectify such a problem with some solutions below.

Clicker Training

Using a clicker, you can reinforce the reaction you want in a dog. If your dogs lick your foot, don’t use the clicker and reward them with treats. If your dog does something else other than licking, activate the clicker, and treat them. Steadily reinforce the alternate behavior, and the puppy will continue with the desired trend.

The great thing about clickers is that you can even use them to train adult dogs easier than with other means. Besides, you won’t be physically or psychologically intimidating the dog as you use clicker training.

Distracting Them With Toys

Provide your dogs with toys to distract them away from your feet. Toss the toy a few feet away from you, when the dog starts to lick your foot. If the dog chases after the toy, reward this alternate behavior with lots of praise. With this trick, the dog will feel some positive reinforcement as they enjoy their rewards of avoiding your feet.

Simply Walk Away

Putting a cute puppy down and walking away is downright impossible, after all the affection, snuggles, and licks. For some dog owners, their pet fondling their legs feels horrendous. 

If you are in such a situation, simply walking away will likely drive the message to your family friend that you’re not entertaining the behavior. In due time, your pet will find other forms of conveying a message differently instead of licking your feet.

Signs That You Have To Bring Your Little Friend To The Vet For Diagnosis

When Should You Seek Help From The Vet?

When the dog licking your feet borders to the point of looking like an obsession, then it’s probably time to look for a veterinarian for possible medical intervention. The vet might even prescribe anti-anxiety medicine for a short while, as you look for more affirmative solutions.

You might also only need to change his behavior with other distractions from your feet. Overall, talk to the vet, who might refer you to a specialist for specific recommendations. 

However, if your dog is prone to licking his own feet, this might lead to skin infections. They might lick their paws due to skin conditions, parasites, or allergies. Visit your vet if your dog seems preoccupied with licking his legs.

The Role Of An Owner Is To Take Care Of Their Little Pal

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it bad for your dog to lick your feet?

It depends. If you have a healthy pair of feet, technically it’s not bad for your little pal to lick them. Dogs licking feet could be a sign of them having a problem (and their way of signaling that to you) or basically, it just because it’s their habit and they like it.

Therefore, the answer to the question of why do dogs like to lick feet is an entirely different matter altogether. Sometimes, your foot might be attractive to them, and that’s all there is to it. On rare occasions, the licking behavior might signal stress in the dog or an underlying health issue. Thus, the answer to whether is it ok for dogs to lick your feet depends on each individual case.

Can my dog get sick from licking my feet?

Yes, although cases like these are rare, your dog can get sick from licking human feet. The possible ways that a canine can get sick from this behavior is if your feet have bacteria that are then consumed when licked. Therefore, you need to be careful that your feet don’t harbor any harmful elements that can be detrimental to your dog.

Also, it can go the other way around. When the dog licks a foot that has an open wound, bacteria, ringworm, or fungus, its mouth and fur could cause you an infection.

What happens if a dog licks an athlete’s foot?

When a dog licks an athlete’s foot, it is said that many of them (the sufferers) enjoy some form of relief when their affected foot is being licked by them. This effect can be attributed to the dog’s saliva having some antifungal properties.

Although there have been no reported cases of dogs getting harmed from licking an athlete’s foot, there are still better solutions to dealing with the condition. Thus, it’s still probably better to deal with the real issue in the right way.

Which dog breed licks the most?

It is said that breeds like Labrador retriever lick the most as compared to other dogs. This can be attributed to their friendly nature and eagerness to please their chosen humans. They are also prone to anxiety when left alone. However, with that being said, almost all dog breeds lick their owners from time to time. Some overly affectionate dogs tend to lick more than others.

And this includes dog breeds like the Golden Retriever, Poodle, Chihuahuas, Bichon Frisé, Pub, and well socialized Pitbulls. Note that the licking behavior is usually picked up when they are still a pup from its mum, which is an even more significant influence than the type of breed.

Conclusion

Understanding your dog helps maintain the bond and friendship. It’s better to understand what its behaviors mean, rather than looking at them at face value.

A lick on your feet or other body parts can mean a lot of things- from “I love you” to “I’m hungry” in the dog’s mind. Dogs need and love attention, and they will thank you for providing it with a wag of the tail, resting on your knee, and licking your feet sometimes.

If you feel uncomfortable because your dog is licking your foot, you should not punish them. Instead, use some of the tactics explained here to distract them from this behavior. If they don’t change, some drastic measures of treatment may be necessary. Simply consult your veterinarian, trainer, or animal behaviorist to advise on how you can deter the licking in the future.