4 Reasons Your Dog is Licking Your Feet, and What To Do About it

Why your dog is licking your feet
© tomocz/Shutterstock.com

Written by Sharon Parry

Updated: May 6, 2022

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Have you been asking: ‘Why do dogs lick your feet?’ This seemingly strange behavior is quite common amongst our four-legged friends. It may be puzzling to dog owners, but this is a perfectly natural thing for dogs to do. Let us explain why that is and give you some tips on what to do about it if it is becoming a nuisance.

Why do dogs lick your feet?

There are actually a number of reasons why your dog likes to lick your feet. Here are the top candidates:

Feet have a lot of odors!

Even if you think your feet are clean and odor-free, your dog will still be able to detect some remaining scents. There is a lot of biological information on your feet including pheromones. These are a type of chemical emitted from the body that has the power to alter the behavior of another animal. In fact, feet are like pheromone factories! Bearing in mind that your dog’s sense of smell is up to 100,000 times more sensitive than yours, it is no wonder that they are so fascinated by your feet.

Feet are salty

The feet are one of the sweatiest parts of the human body. Human sweat contains a lot of salts including sodium chloride which is the type of salt that we add to our food. Our furry friends love the taste of salt. So, it is no wonder they like to lick our feet.

Saying ‘I love you’

Dogs show affection by licking. They learn this from the Mom dog when they are pups. So, your dog may simply be saying that they love you when they are giving your feet a lick.

Getting attention

Most humans will respond to foot licking with some sort of reaction. It may be positive if you don’t mind the sensation. It may be negative if you have very ticklish feet, and you find it very unpleasant. Dogs like to get a reaction from humans and thrive on attention. Perhaps, your dog has learned that this is an effective way to get your attention.

What it means when your dog licks your feet

Feet licking is a perfectly normal thing for a dog to do and is usually not something that you need to worry about. Provided your feet are healthy and you do not have any broken skin or infections the occasional lick will not harm your dog.

However, sometimes the behavior can go too far. Obsessive licking can mean that your dog has an anxiety disorder. This is something that you should talk to your vet about.

Also, you should check if there is a particular patch of skin on your feet that your dog is attracted to. If they seem to be fussing over a blemish or a mole, you should go to your own doctor to get it checked out. There have been several reports of dogs detecting skin cancers in their owners. Their noses are so sensitive that they can detect tiny chemicals given off by cancer cells. Researchers are studying if dogs could be used as cancer detectors in hospitals. It is highly unlikely that you have skin cancer, but your dog’s obsession with a mole could mean that they have detected something that needs to be checked out.

Why do dogs lick your feet after a shower?

This is a puzzling one. Surely your feet are so clean after a shower that there are no pheromones or salt to attract your dog? Yet, many owners find that this is the time when their dogs lick their feet the most!

One explanation is that your feet smell different from normal and so your dog is exploring what is going on. Perhaps, they are checking out your shower gel or soap or even a skin moisturizer that you have used.

Another possibility is that your dog does not like this ‘new you’ and is trying to make you smell like them – which is much more familiar and comforting.

Why do dogs lick their own feet?

Dogs lick their own paws for different reasons. If their attention is focused on one paw, it could be a sore, cut, abrasion, or bite. They could even have a thorn stuck in a paw pad. Dogs instinctively lick a wound but it can get in the way of the healing process. Another cause could be an allergy and this could be their food or something in the environment.

It is always recommended that you talk to your vet if your dog is obsessively licking their own paws. They may ask you to try a dog food for allergies. If there is a wound that needs to be protected whilst it heals, you could try some dog socks or boots.

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How to stop your dog from licking your feet?

If foot-licking has become a problem, here are a few strategies that you could try:

Keep your feet very clean

Try to wash your feet often to cut down on pheromones and salts. If you have been on a long walk or have exercised, it may be a good idea to wash your feet before your dog greets you.

Prevent access

As you are trying to get your dog out of the habit of licking your feet, stop them from gaining access. Wear socks and shoes around the house for a while. Head your dog off and offer a toy to play with when you see them heading for your feet.

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Don’t react

This can be difficult if you have ticklish feet, but try not to react when your dog licks your feet. Remain calm and simply walk away. You could even leave the room. If you make a big fuss (positive or negative) it could encourage them to do it even more.

Give them something else to do

Boredom can sometimes make dogs lick their owner’s feet more than is comfortable. So, it could help if you give your dog something else to do. There are some great interactive toys that will stimulate your dog’s mind and distract them. You could also try a lick mat for dogs that really love to lick.

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Be consistent

As with all dog training, it is important that you do not send mixed messages to your dog. You cannot let them lick your feet one day but not the next. Also, make sure that everyone in the household is training your dog in the same way.

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About the Author

Dr Sharon Parry is a writer at A-Z animals where her primary focus is on dogs, animal behavior, and research. Sharon holds a PhD from Leeds University, UK which she earned in 1998 and has been working as a science writer for the last 15 years. A resident of Wales, UK, Sharon loves taking care of her spaniel named Dexter and hiking around coastlines and mountains.

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