Why does my dog lick my feet and how to prevent it | Ask Our Behaviorist

Apr 24,2021

As much as we love our furry friends, there are some things they do that we aren't very fond of, like licking our feet! You may have thought it was funny at first, but if it gets to the point where you can't go without wearing socks around them, it can become quite annoying. 

Here are a few reasons your dog may be doing this, and how to prevent or stop it. 

Gathering Information

Did you know your dog has an additional sensory organ called the Jacobson’s organ? This connects its nasal cavity to the roof of its mouth, allowing them to smell and taste at the same time. This allows them to gather more information, which could be a reason as to why your dog licks you so much. As a human, our sweat glands secrete moisture that contains moisture, salt, water, and waste products. Our sebaceous glands release sebum too. The sweat mixes with these secretions, giving your dog more information on the human they are licking. 

Your Dog Could be Seeking Attention

When your dog licks your feet, you may react by laughing or even negatively and yell for them to stop. Even if the reaction isn't good, you are still giving your dog attention and that is what they want. Since you will react to them every time they lick your feet, they will associate this action with getting attention from you, making them do it more often. This can be prevented with some training that we will talk about later on. 


Licking Feet Could be a Comfort Thing

This could be a way for your dog to express their feelings for you. If your dog did not feel safe around you, they would not be so comfortable licking your feet. Your dog may also look at it like it is grooming and comforting you. With dogs, mutual grooming is a sign of love and affection. They may have gotten this idea from their parents when they were young. So, when licking you it will release positive hormones for your pup. They are trying to indicate their submissiveness to their owner. 

There are many other possible reasons as to why your dog may lick your feet. Maybe there is some food on your feet that your dog noticed and they want to lick it off. Maybe they see your foot is dirty and they want to help clean it for you. It can also bring some sort of stress relief for your dog, a soothing act for them to feel better. 

When Should I Worry?

If your dog seems to be obsessed with licking your feet, it may become a problem. It could even become a coping mechanism for your dog's stress. If it gets to this point, you should look into behavior training or even check in with a vet to check if medication is necessary. 

How to Stop This Behavior

You shouldn’t punish your dog for this behavior as they are doing it to be nice. You should instead try to use positive reinforcement by handing them something else like a toy and show them they will get more attention by doing so. If they see they are getting more attention by getting something else, they will do that more. 

Another way to curb this behavior is by ignoring it and walking away. This will show your dog that they won't get any attention at all and you don't want it, hopefully causing them to stop.