Dogs use their tongues to show affection all the time, but what happens when they’re constantly lavishing that attention on your feet?
The behaviour can seem a little strange to humans, but many dogs do enjoy licking feet, and it can be boggling to us as owners.
6 Reasons Why UYOur Dogs Licks Your Feet
1. Gaining Attention
When a dog performs an action like licking your feet or licking your ears, they typically get a response from you fairly quickly.
What could have started out as an innocent curiosity or an accessible way to give you a kiss could have escalated into an action that your dog has learned will generate attention whenever they want.
2. Giving Affection
Your feet are likely the closest accessible body part to your dog, and this is the easiest way for them to give you kisses without straining themselves.
Licking feet can also be a sign of submission from dogs, acknowledging that they consider you their Alpha.
A dog uses all their senses to gather information and learn about you and the world around them.
The endocrine glands on your feet – as well as your skin in general, which picks up dirt and particles as you go – are great sources of this information, so a dog licking your feet might just be them getting to know you.
It’s a little gross to think about, but there’s a good chance that your dog just likes the way your feet taste!
A dog who is bored or has little to do might turn to other behaviours to occupy themselves, especially if licking your feet gets a reaction that generates excitement.
They usually even try to eat rocks or chew on other things because of boredom. Providing enough toys or activities to do, as well as making sure your pup gets enough exercise, can easily curb this.
A dog may compulsively lick at themselves or others when they are stressed or experience emotional pressure. This can lead to obsessive-compulsive disorder of an animal variety.
If you notice your dog licking other objects around the house when distressed, or if you think your dog might be compulsively licking your feet, speak to a vet.
Should I be concerned With My Dog Licking Feet?
Usually, a dog who likes licking feet isn’t a serious cause for concern. It’s typically a harmless act, and if you personally don’t like when your dog does it, you can train them not to.
Don’t use negative reinforcement, but positive reinforcement only.
If your dog seems to lick your feet almost compulsively in times of emotional distress or does it exceedingly often, then you may want to bring your dog to a vet to discuss the issue with a professional.
It can be a sign of serious distress or stress that belies an underlying condition or may be a sign of a medical condition.
Generally, though, the odd foot-licking every now and then isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and if you don’t have qualms about getting a foot bath, then there’s no need to worry if your dog has a tendency to lick feet.
How Do I Train My Dog To Stop Licking My Feet If The Behaviour Has Become A Habit?
For dogs that have just started this behaviour, it’s fairly easy to direct their attention elsewhere or give them engaging toys that will keep them otherwise occupied.
But what about those that have done this habitually for a long time now?
Don’t Make It A Game
What’s your natural reaction when your dog licks your feet? Do you react strongly, tugging your foot away, or laugh and giggle? How about giving them lots of attention – negative or otherwise – immediately?
Dogs love excitement and turning things into games, so don’t encourage this. Instead, respond calmly or simply ignore the behaviour.
Look for toys or other sorts of physical affection that you’d rather your pup engage in than licking your feet. This can be something like nuzzling your neck, playing fetch, or enjoying a chew toy.
Train these alternative behaviours and reward them when done, then re-introduce your feet into the mix and encourage your pup to choose the alternatives instead.
Ignore your dog’s attention on your feet, completely ignore the pup for a few minutes, and then engage them in play or a preferable alternative behaviour.
You can also choose to withdraw your feet, sternly give the “no” or “leave it” command and command a “sit”.
Make your dog stay in the sitting position for about 30 seconds or more and then reward them. The 30-second gap is necessary so your dog knows the reward is for sitting, not licking your feet.
Cover Your Feet
It’s not a long-term solution, but while training them to learn alternative behaviours, wear socks or shoes around your dog so they do not have access to your feet.
Implement Time Out
We don’t usually encourage negative reinforcement for bad behaviour. But if nothing else is working, then this is the last resort.
When your dog licks your feet, immediately isolate them in a separate room or in their kennel for about one or two minutes before letting them out again.
Don’t stretch it out longer, or your dog will forget the reason they’ve been put in there. Remember, like all methods, this will take patience before you see changes.
Call A Professional
Can’t seem to get rid of the foot-licking habit? Why does my dog lick my feet? Speak to your vet or a professional trainer. There’s no shame in asking for help from experts when you need it!