Why Does My Dog Lick My Feet?

Turns out, there's more than meets the eye (or the foot) with this interesting dog behavior

If there’s one dog fact we’re confident about, it’s that they like to lick. They lick their paws, their fur siblings and, yes, they even lick you, their beloved human. Your dog’s licking habit might be something to laugh about at first, but admittedly, this weird dog behavior can get old if it’s excessive. If your pooch licks your feet when you’re doing the dishes, sitting on the couch or trying to do anything without wearing socks, and it’s driving you nuts, don’t worry. We have the reason behind this strange behavior—and how you can thwart it.

Why do dogs like to lick?

From the moment dogs are born, licking plays a key role in their development. All dogs have an additional organ called the Jacobson’s organ. It connects their nasal cavity to the roof of their mouth, allowing them to taste and smell at the same time. New dog moms lick their puppies to clean them off, help them start breathing and stimulate digestion, and puppies will lick them in return.

As dogs get older they continue to lick people, things or other dogs to show affection, to get attention or as a slobbery (but much loved) greeting.

Why does my dog lick my feet?

If your dog constantly goes after your feet with their tongue, it’s because they love the sweaty and salty taste of your toes and they want attention, says Gary Richter, DVM, Veterinary Health Expert with Rover.com. Chances are, every time your dog licks your feet, you react by laughing or yelling at them to stop. Even though you might yell in a tone that means trouble, you’re still giving your dog attention every time they do it. Therefore, they associate licking your feet with interaction and will continue to do it when they want something from you. They see it as a game.

There are other reasons dogs lick feet, including:

  • They think it’s comforting, especially if they’re experiencing anxiety
  • They’re giving you a sign of affection
  • They want to smell what you’ve been up to (seriously)

Is it okay for dogs to lick your feet?

Assuming you wash your feet regularly, it’s generally okay for dogs to lick your feet. Just make sure the pups don’t lick your feet after you’ve applied creams or ointments that could be toxic to them, or if you have an open cut on your foot. We know where our dogs’ mouths have been—and we don’t want it in open wounds.

How can I get my dog to stop licking my feet?

Dr. Richter suggests offering your dog something else they like to have in their mouth, such as a toy or treat, every time they go to lick your feet. As your dog starts to learn that you want them to stop the licking, make sure to use positive reinforcement when they stop licking, so they know they’re doing something right. Simply ignoring the behavior and walking away is another way to curb the licking.

If your dog can’t seem to keep their tongue in their mouth no matter what you try, it’s always best to consult your veterinarian to see if your dog has any underlying medical conditions. Now that you know the answer to the question, “Why does my dog lick my feet?” learn the answer to another common dog behavior question: “Why does my dog follow me everywhere?

Sources:

  • PBS: “Dogs’ Dazzling Sense of Smell”
  • Gary Richter, DVM, Veterinary Health Expert with Rover.com
  • The Kennel Club: “Why does my dog lick my feet?”

Morgan Cutolo
Morgan is the Senior Production Editor at Trusted Media Brands. She graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 2016 where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. She works with our Production Coordinators to keep content moving and make sure that things are working well behind the scenes for all our digital sites. In her free time, she likes exploring the seacoast of Maine where she lives and works remotely full time and snuggling up on the couch with her corgi, Eggo, to watch HGTV or The Office.