Dogs have a lot of cute mannerisms that we love. Wagging their tails, cocking their heads to the side, and panting/smiling all make these furry creatures so cute.
But, sometimes, dogs have habits that aren’t so appetizing. While your dog giving you kisses can be cute, it can feel rather weird and gross when your dog starts licking your feet!
Why do dogs lick their owners’ feet? Read on to find out!
Related: Why Does My Dog Lay On Me?
Why Do Dogs Like to Lick?
From the moment they’re born, licking plays a key role in a dog’s development. Dogs have an additional sensory organ that humans don’t have called the Jacobson’s organ. This organ connects their nasal cavity to the room of their mouth.
It allows them to taste and smell at the same time, enabling them to take in more information. New moms will lick their puppies to help them start breathing, clean them, and stimulate digestion. Puppies will lick their moms in return to mimic the behavior.
As dogs age, they lick people or things to get attention, show affection, or give slobbery greetings.
Related: Reasons Your Dog Eats Grass
Why is My Dog Licking Your Feet?
So, why the feet? To humans, feet taste disgusting, as they’ve been in our shoes all day. They’re sweaty and smelly, so why would your dog want to lick them? Here are some of the reasons:
1. They’re Looking for Something to Eat
Dogs are constantly on the hunt for something to eat, even if you feed them all of their meals consistently. You’ve probably noticed that when you cook dinner or eat, your dog is standing right beside you with eager eyes, just waiting for a scrap of food to land on the floor.
While it’s unlikely there’s any food on or near your feet, some dogs are willing to take the chance and start licking! Plus, because feet are naturally sweaty, they tend to have a salty flavor, which some dogs actually enjoy.
It’s very unlikely that your dog is going to chomp into your foot, but licking is usually a sign they’re after some food.
2. They’re Curious
Have you ever noticed that when you take your dog for a walk, it’ll dig its head straight into a pile of trash? Dogs are constantly curious about their surroundings, no matter how disgusting those surroundings may be to us humans.
A dog licking your feet may simply be a sign of curiosity.
3. They’re Trying to Please You
Dogs are very adept at reading human emotions and behavior. Likely, when your dog licks your feet, you start to giggle because it’s ticklish.
When a dog sees their human companion laughing and smiling and looking happy, they think they’re doing something right, and they’re bound to repeat that behavior to keep pleasing their human friend!
4. They Have a Problem
There’s a difference between the occasional curious taste and a full-time foot licker. If your dog falls into the latter category, they may have developed this compulsive behavior as a coping mechanism.
If that’s the case, there’s usually something stressful going on in the dog’s life that’s causing them to resort to this behavior. Perhaps you’ve recently moved or changed up their routine. Or, they may be dealing with an underlying health issue.
Related: Big vs. Small Dogs: Pros and Cons
How to Stop Your Dog From Licking Your Feet
Obviously, the first line of defense is to wear socks, as rarely do dogs try to lick feet with socks on them. However, if you want the option to be sock-free in your own house, then you need to develop some other strategies.
The best way to stop your dog from licking your feet is to use positive reinforcement training techniques. For example, you can use clicker training.
For this type of training, you’ll click the clicker the exact moment your dog does what you want. So, if your dog is licking your feet, you can redirect them to a chew toy. When they grab the chew toy, click the clicker and give them a reward (such as a small treat). Eventually, they’ll learn that they’re rewarded when they’re not licking your feet.
If positive reinforcement doesn’t work, you may want to speak to your vet about your dog’s bad habit, as there could be something larger at play that’s causing them to engage in this behavior.
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What to Do If Your Dog Licks Its Paws
You’ve got your dog off the feet-licking train only to find out that it’s now licking your paws. Often, a dog will lick its paws to tend to its wounds, so check for any cuts or abrasions. Licking is counterproductive, as it can lead to inflammation and infection, so you’ll want to nip the behavior in the bud.
Paw licking may also be a result of parasites, food allergies, or dermatitis.
Here are some strategies to deal with this:
- Have them wear socks or dog booties
- Have your dog wear an Elizabethan collar, also known as a cone collar (this can be particularly helpful for dogs that have stitches that need to heal)
- Put a few drops of citrus on your dog’s paws (the taste will deter them)
Just as you can train your dog to stop licking your feet with positive reinforcement, so too can you train them to stop licking their paws.
Time to Get Your Dog to Stop Licking Your Feet
As you can see, it’s not a major problem if your dog licks your feet, and it can easily be stopped with positive reinforcement.
Your dog may also be licking your feet out of boredom, so you can tire them out with Runball Exercise.