Even if the tickling sensation doesn't bother you, you might wonder why your dog licks your feet. There are a few reasons dogs like to lick their owner's toes; they might be trying to get your attention, cleaning your feet, or it might be a sign they're stressed. Discover the science behind why dogs like licking your feet so much and how to stop this annoying behavior.
Why Do Dogs Lick Feet?
Dogs are attracted to smelly things, and, let's face it, most feet don't smell like roses. One of the main reasons your dog could be licking your feet is because they're stinky. A dog's sense of smell is nearly 100,000 times stronger than a human's, so they use their nose to collect information. They like your stinky feet because the scent can give them insight into what you have been up to based on the eccrine glands in your feet.
In general, licking may also be a self-soothing technique for many dogs. Licking releases endorphins, which can calm an anxious dog in times of stress. They might lick their own paws, lick a toy, or lick their favorite thing in the house: you. Some of the other reasons your dog might like tasting your toes include the following:
- They love you and are trying to express affection.
- They're licking you as a sign of submission.
- They're trying to get your attention.
- They are cleaning you.
- They're gathering information from your scent.
- They think you like it when they lick your feet.
- They're anxious and licking to self-soothe.
- Your feet are stinky and taste good.
Some dogs may like the flavor, because as you sweat, your body also expels salt. This smelly mixture, with the added flavor of salt from your pores, may be what's enticing your dog to lick your feet, as well. However, there's no way to be sure exactly which of these motivations is what's driving your dog. You can try washing your feet and keeping them from being sweaty to see if this helps keep your dog from licking, but if a behavioral cause is what is creating the behavior, you may have to try other solutions.
How to Stop Your Dog from Licking Your Feet
Are you getting sick of your dog licking your feet all the time? That's totally understandable. Take this approach to stop this annoying behavior for good.
Ignore the Behavior
Whenever your dog approaches you to lick your feet, get up and ignore them. Don't even acknowledge your dog or the fact that you don't want them to lick your feet. Simply walk away. This will help your dog understand that this behavior will not get them attention.
Give your dog something else to lick. Try a scented or flavored chew toy, Kong filled with dog-safe peanut butter, or a tactile LickiMat. Praise them whenever they lick this object instead of your feet. Eventually, they'll learn this is something they can and should lick and will turn to it instead of your toes.
Never Punish for Licking
It's never a good idea to scold your dog when they do something unfavorable; this will just frighten them and can lead to other undesirable behaviors. Use positive reinforcement to encourage your dog to channel their licking into healthy activities.
If your dog turns to lick your feet whenever the garbage truck drives by or anytime you have houseguests, it could be a result of stress. Other signs of anxiety in dogs include pacing, panting, drooling, whining, and a tucked tail.
Aim to reduce any stress in your dog's life to help stop feet-licking. Make sure your dog is getting enough exercise and has a safe space like a crate or bed where they can retreat whenever they begin to feel stressed. Speak to your veterinarian or canine behaviorist for personalized guidance.
Keep Your Feet Clean
We're not saying your feet are dirty by any means, but cleaning your feet more regularly, particularly after you exercise or have been out for a while, can help minimize your dog's desire to lick your feet. The more you sweat, the more they might want to explore your little piggies. Never let your dog lick your feet if you use topical medications like ointments or creams because these could be toxic if ingested.
Addressing Excessive Licking
Unfortunately, if your dog licks everything excessively, not just your feet, it could point to a medical problem. Heartburn, nausea, and other gastrointestinal problems can prompt a dog to lick things nonstop. It may be worthwhile to rule out a physical cause of your dog's licking to give you peace of mind. However, if your dog doesn't stop licking your feet despite the above tips, it's important to see your veterinarian.
Should I Let My Dog Lick My Feet?
It's really your choice whether you let your dog lick your feet or not. It's probably not going to harm them unless you use ointments or medication on your feet or have open wounds. More than anything, it'll probably just tickle a ton. Just make sure you keep your feet clean to protect your pup. And if you do decide you've had enough of them licking your toes, redirect the behavior and avoid punishing your buddy.