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Why Does My Dog Lick My Feet? Exploring the Reasons Behind This Odd Behavior

Why Does My Dog Lick My Feet

If you’re wondering “why does my dog lick my feet?” Don’t worry, we have you covered. Feet licking in dogs is an odd behavior, and not all pet parents appreciate canine efforts to spruce up our tootsies. So, it’s great to really get into the roots of this behavior.

Dogs are social creatures that have unique ways of communicating with their owners. As a result, some dog behaviors may seem weird, disturbing, or even gross to some. And if you are worried about whose feet they’ve been licking, consider a dental rinse that is safe for dogs.

To answer the question of why your dog licks your feet, we’ve consulted our expert source, “Why Do Dogs Do That” By T. Davis. Next, we will look at the potential reasons a dog may lick a person’s feet.

Sometimes, the behavior may require you to set boundaries to stop it.

It’s important to note that you should address excessive licking or behavior that becomes bothersome. It could indicate an underlying issue such as anxiety.

Understanding why your dog licks your feet can help you deepen your bond with them and signal potential health issues that may require prompt medical attention. 

The Top 6 Reasons Why Your Dog is Licking Your Feet

The Top 6 Reasons Why Your Dog is Licking Your Feet

1. Affection & Grooming

When a dog licks a person’s feet, it is often a display of affection, as described by Clive Wynn, an animal behaviorist from Arizona State University in Tempe. It is an instinctual behavior rooted in their social and bonding tendencies to groom one another. Licking is a natural behavior in dogs that begins early in their lives when their mother licks them to cement the bond through grooming.

As they grow, dogs continue to use licking to express love and affection towards their human family members, which is the main reason dogs love to cuddle. In addition, licking may release endorphins and oxytocin in dogs. Those are the neurotransmitters associated with pleasure and happiness.

When a dog licks you, whether it’s your feet or another body part, it can create a sense of comfort and relaxation for them, as well as a feeling of connection and security. It’s their way of showing that they trust and care for you.

Furthermore, dogs are highly attuned to social cues and body language. They observe and learn from their interactions with humans. For example, they quickly recognize that licking gets met with positive responses, such as petting, praise, or verbal affection. Similar behaviors include pushing their bum against us.

Therefore, licking becomes a learned behavior reinforcing the bond between dog and owner.

It’s important to note that while licking is typically an affectionate gesture, it’s essential to set boundaries and ensure it remains a pleasant experience for both you and your dog.

If the licking becomes excessive, uncomfortable, or unwanted, gentle redirection or training can help establish appropriate boundaries while maintaining the loving connection you share with your furry friend.

2. Seeking Information In Our Scent

Dogs have an incredible sense of smell and use this powerful sense to gather information about their surroundings, including the people they interact with. Also, they are inherently attracted to strong, stinky smells. This means stinky feet are a point of interest to them, leading to sniffing, licking, or nibbling on our toes.

Sniffing and licking your feet, especially when they are sweaty, allows them to thoroughly explore the unique scent that emanates from your feet. This scent carries a wealth of information, such as your odor, the places you’ve been, and even your emotional state. It may seem gross, but any of our bodily excretions, such as ear wax, can tell a dog a lot about our health and result in behaviors like nibbling our ears or licking our feet.

Dogs have a remarkable ability to detect subtle changes in our body chemistry. By licking your feet, they may be trying to gather insights into your overall well-being and mood. It’s their way of getting to know you better and strengthening your bond. Since feet tend to sweat, they give more information than other parts of your body.

For example, dogs can even smell when you are sad or stressed by the chemical changes in your sweat.

While it may seem peculiar to us, licking feet is a natural behavior for dogs, and it serves as an avenue for them to deepen their understanding of their human companions.

3. Attention-Seeking

Licking is a behavior that dogs often use to capture your focus and engage with you. When a dog licks you to get your attention, it can serve several purposes.

Firstly, dogs have learned that licking tends to elicit a response from humans. They observe that they often receive verbal praise, physical affection, or even playtime when they lick their owners. When dogs lick your feet, you may giggle or laugh, and this can encourage them to do it more.

The positive reinforcement reinforces the behavior and motivates them to continue licking to seek attention.

Secondly, licking is an intimate action for dogs. It involves close physical contact, and the act itself can be soothing and comforting to them.

By licking you, they are not only trying to gain your attention but also seeking reassurance and connection. It’s their way of expressing their desire for interaction and companionship.

Suppose a dog has successfully gained attention or rewards through licking. In that case, they are more likely to repeat the behavior in similar situations.

Dogs are intelligent creatures capable of recognizing cause and effect. Therefore they quickly learn that licking can be an effective way to capture your attention.

However, teaching your dog alternativ-e-archive ways to seek attention if their licking becomes excessive, bothersome, or inappropriate is essential. Consistent training and redirection can help channel their energy and desire for interaction into more acceptable behaviors.

Such behaviors include sitting, offering a paw, or using a specific vocal cue. You must provide positive reinforcement for these alternativ-e-archive behaviors. You can help your dog understand more appropriate methods to get your attention while maintaining a solid and loving bond.

4. Anxiety

Dogs, like humans, can experience anxiety, and their behavior may reflect this emotional state. Licking can be a self-soothing behavior for dogs when feeling anxious or stressed. When a dog licks your feet to respond to anxiety, it can serve as a calming mechanism.

As we know, licking may release endorphins in dogs, which can help alleviate stress and provide comfort.

It becomes a repetitive and rhythmic action that helps dogs cope with their anxiety by diverting their attention. Thereby it provides temporary relief from their emotional distress.

Dogs usually lick themselves to soothe, but sometimes this can transfer to licking humans on places like their feet. When it becomes a repetitive behavior, it may sign of stress or even canine compulsive disorder in extreme cases.

The act of licking your feet may provide a familiar and comforting smell to them, and the tactile sensation of licking can also be soothing.

It’s important to note that while licking may offer some relief, it is not a long-term solution for anxiety in dogs. If you suspect your dog is experiencing anxiety, consult a veterinarian or a professional dog behaviorist.

You can also implement strategies such as regular exercise and mental stimulation. You can also consider behavior modification techniques or medication under professional guidance to help alleviate dogs’ anxiety and promote their overall well-being.

5. Boredom

Dogs are intelligent and social creatures that thrive on mental and physical stimulation. When they experience boredom or lack of appropriate outlets for their energy, they may develop repetitive behaviors.

Just as humans do, dogs use these behaviors to cope with various forms of discomfort. Licking feet can become one such habit for dogs when they are bored.

Licking can provide a form of sensory stimulation and engagement for dogs, especially if they have nothing else to occupy their time. In addition, feet are easily accessible, and licking offers some stimulation and relief from boredom.

Suppose your dog receives any form of positive or negative interaction when they lick your feet out of boredom. In that case, it can inadvertently reinforce the behavior. Furthermore, this unintentional reinforcement can contribute to habit-forming and becoming more ingrained.

Engaging in regular exercise and interactive, mentally stimulating activities can help redirect their energy and focus.

It’s crucial to note that if the behavior persists or becomes problematic, you should seek professional advice. A professional can assess the underlying reasons for the boredom and provide tailored strategies to address the issue effectively.

6. Dogs licking feet that are injured

Dogs will often lick a sore or injury on your feet to try to help. In some cases, if your dog pays a lot of attention to something like a mole on your foot, it may be a good idea to see a doctor. After all, dogs have been known to recognize cancerous moles by smell.

When dogs lick their own wounds, for example, it can help clean the area and promote healing. Similarly, when dogs lick your feet, they may be instinctively trying to provide relief or assistance. It is believed that the enzymes present in a dog’s saliva have mild antibacterial properties, which could potentially help in disinfecting minor injuries.

Additionally, dogs have been known to show affection and comfort their owners in times of distress, and licking can be a way for them to express their concern and offer emotional support. However, it is essential to note that not all dogs exhibit this behavior, and if you have any concerns about your health, it is always advisable to consult a medical professional.

Is it Okay to Let Your Dog Lick Your Feet?

Is it Okay to Let Your Dog Lick Your Feet?

Whether it is okay to let your dog lick your feet is a personal preference and depends on several factors. However, here are some considerations to keep in mind:

  • Personal Comfort: Some people may not mind their dog licking their feet and may find it enjoyable or endearing. However, others may find it unpleasant or uncomfortable. Therefore, assessing your comfort level and deciding what you are okay with is essential.
  • Hygiene: Feet can harbor bacteria, dirt, or other substances that may not be ideal for your dog to ingest. If you have any open wounds, cuts, or infections on your feet, avoid letting your dog lick them to prevent potential complications.
  • Training and Boundaries: It’s essential to establish clear boundaries with your dog to ensure that their licking behavior remains appropriate. Consistent training can help teach your dog when and where licking is acceptable and when it is not.
  • Potential Reinforcement: If you allow your dog to lick your feet and provide positive reinforcement (such as attention or praise), they may learn that this behavior is desirable. That can lead to them seeking more opportunities to lick your feet, which may not always be convenient or comfortable.
  • Other People’s Comfort: Consider the comfort levels of guests or family members who may interact with your dog. Not everyone may be comfortable with a dog licking their feet, so it’s essential to be mindful of others’ preferences and set appropriate boundaries.

Ultimately, the decision to let your dog lick your feet is personal. However, monitoring the behavior and maintaining good hygiene practices is essential if you allow it.

In addition, you must ensure that both you and your dog are comfortable and safe. If the licking becomes excessive, it may be necessary to redirect their behavior. Often doing so will require you to seek veterinarian guidance.

Final Thoughts

Dogs may lick feet to show affection, seek attention, gather information, soothe anxiety, or alleviate boredom.

While it can be a bonding experience between you and your dog, it’s essential to establish boundaries. You should ensure the behavior is not excessive or indicative of an underlying issue.

If the licking becomes excessive, we recommend consulting a veterinarian or professional dog behaviorist for guidance and support.


Tamsin De La Harpe


Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions.

Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

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