Why Do Dogs Lick Feet?

Why Does A Dog Lick Human Feets Feature Image

Why Do Dogs Lick Feet?

Even though dogs’ tongues end up in some less-than-desirable locations during the day, they still eagerly lick their owners’ faces, hands, and feet without hesitation.

For many dogs, foot licking can even reach the point of obsession, regardless of whether the feet in question came from hiking or the gym. That’s why many owners ask, “why does my dog lick my feet?”

Well, dogs have an additional sensory organ called the Jacobson’s organ, which connects their nasal cavity to the roof of their mouth. This organ enables them to smell and taste at the same time, so they can gather information.

There are several reasons behind the, “why does my dog lick my feet?” question and foot licking can mean a lot of different things. Dog owners should understand the hidden meaning behind this behavior in order to strengthen your bond. 

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 your dog licks your feet.

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

1. Showing Affection

One of the most common reasons why dogs lick 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 when a dog is with other dogs, they portray intimate behaviors such as licking and self-grooming to foster bonds. Such action then means that the dog is grooming you, affectionately thinking you need to be licked to show love or your dog may be trying to encourage you to join them in an activity that meets your physiological needs. 

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

2. Gathering Information

Another reason behind your “why does my dog lick my feet?” question could be because your dog is 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 love the taste of salt and they 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 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.

Stress and anxiety can also lead to your dog’s excessive paw licking. Thus, knowing the causes of your dog’s stressful and anxious behavior and using redirection can help ease this behavior.

4. You Unconsciously Encouraged This Behavior

Your dog may lick your feet because they often get a reaction for doing so. They 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 feet to console and soothe you.

However, if a dog licks your feet and it seems like it’s becoming a compulsive behavior like when the dog scratches, then you need to talk to your vet.

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. 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.

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. Make sure to use positive reinforcement as well when you want your dog to stop licking his paws.

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 your dogs lick feet and 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 paws, this might lead to skin infections. Excessive licking might be due to skin conditions (e.g. secondary infection, inflammation, etc.), parasites, or food allergies.

An allergic reaction in the skin is the most common reason why your dog got used to licking his paws excessively. The good news here is that many of the causes of a dog’s paw licking can be settled with home treatment alone.

Also, if your furry best friend is licking only one paw, look for abrasions, cuts, or even insect bites. Licking the same one paw may be a sign that your pup is coping with an injury and needs treatment.

However, if your dog seems preoccupied with paw licking or he won’t stop licking his paws, visit your vet immediately as excessive licking could be a red flag for a more serious problem. A common cause for concern with excessive licking is called lick granuloma ( or lick dermatitis) which is a stubborn skin disease and requires immediate veterinary attention.

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. If a dog engages in feet licking, it 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 dogs love it.

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. Perhaps you could get some more breathable shoes so your feet don’t get so sweaty at the end of a long day.

Also, it can go the other way around. When the pet 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.


So, why does my dog lick my feet? A lick on your feet or other body parts can mean a lot of things- such as attention-seeking from “I love you” to “I’m hungry” in the dog’s mind.

If you feel uncomfortable, you should not punish them. Instead, use some of the tactics explained here to distract them from this behavior.

If they don’t change or is showing signs of compulsive behavior, 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.

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