Why does my dog lick my feet?

If your dog is obsessed with constantly licking your feet, especially after you’ve gone for a walk, had a shower, or just got into bed, you’ll know exactly how much it can tickle. Some owners may not mind it, while others find it quite unpleasant, but why does your dog lick your feet, is it ok to let them and what does it mean?

Why does my dog lick my feet?

Your dog licks you to show they care, to get attention, to understand you better and because they enjoy it. However, the reason they may prefer your feet could be because they’re bursting with scent information that tells them a lot about you, where you’ve been and what you’ve been doing. So long as your feet are healthy then letting your dog lick them is unlikely to be harmful to either you or your dog.

Why do dogs lick?

Licking is a normal behaviour for dogs. For them, it’s a way of grooming, bonding, and expressing themselves. Your dog may lick you for a number of reasons, but it could be because they find it comforting, relaxing and even enjoyable. They may use it as a way to get some attention, as a means to say they love you or it’s possible that they just think you taste nice. Licking can be a soothing behaviour for dogs, so if they’re feeling anxious or stressed it can sometimes help them feel calmer. Dogs that have anxiety issues may lick you, themselves or other objects excessively and you may need the support of your vet or a dog behaviourist to help them manage any anxiety issues.

Why the feet?

Feet may not be particularly interesting to us, but to dogs they’re fascinating. They’re packed full of interesting smells and pheromones and are covered in salt from your sweat. With a sense of smell between 10,000 and 100,000 times better than ours, your dog can read your feet like a book, telling them what you’ve been eating, what you’re feeling, where you’ve been and what you’ve been up to.

Getting attention

If your dog licks your feet, what do you usually do? Do you laugh and smile as your dog’s rough tongue tickles your toes? If the answer is yes, then it’s possible that your dog loves licking your feet because they enjoy making you laugh and like the positive attention they get from it, which, in turn, encourages them to keep on doing it.

Should I let my dog lick my feet?

Licking feet may seem disgusting to you, but providing that your feet are healthy, you don’t have any open wounds or haven’t applied any medications that could be poisonous to your dog, such as psoriasis creams, then there is no harm in letting your dog lick your feet. You may not want them to, but that’s a personal decision that we’ll leave up to you.

What should I do if my dog licks my feet too much?

If your dog’s feet licking obsession has become a problem, then take a look at some techniques to help them lick you less:
  • Good foot hygiene -Your foot hygiene may already be impeccable, but if you struggle with your dog licking you, then make sure your feet are thoroughly washed so they’re less attractive to your dog. If your dog’s licking is a particular problem after you’ve exercised, then make sure you get to the shower before they can get to your feet
  • Don’t give your dog a chance - If your dog obsessively licks your feet, think about when they do it most and try to anticipate when you’re most likely to receive a sneaky lick attack and try and avoid giving your dog the opportunity
  • Move away - Instead of giving either positive or negative attention, try moving your feet away from your dog. Don’t say anything or make eye contact, but remain neutral. If this doesn’t work, try moving away from your dog, or leave the room entirely. Over time this should give them the message that it’s not something you enjoy
  • Distract them - Try giving them something else to do that stops them licking, such as a chew toy or a food puzzle, or something that can indulge their licking, like a lick mat
  • Always give the same message - Make sure you’re consistent. If you give your dog mixed messages then it will be confusing to them. Be consistent and clear about what you do and don't want them to do

If your dog licks you too much, it’s important that you try to find out why. It could be that they are anxious, or not feeling well, so try to think back to when their excessive licking started. Has your dog shown any other behaviours that are unusual for them, or has anything changed recently? If you’re worried about your dog’s behaviour then always speak to your vet or a behaviourist.

Why does my dog lick their own feet so much?

If your dog has suddenly started licking their paws a lot more then you should speak to your vet for advice. Obsessive licking can be a sign that they are stressed or anxious, or could suggest that they are in pain, feeling nauseous, uncomfortable or itchy. Licking is soothing to dogs and may help to make them feel better when something is wrong.

Find out more

Find answers to some of the other most commonly asked questions on our 'why does my dog?' hub, such as:
  • Why does my dog eat grass?
  • Why does my dog eat poop?
  • Why does my dog shake?
  • Why does my dog stare at me?
  • Why does my dog follow me everywhere?
  • Why does my dog lick me so much?
  • Why does my dog sneeze so much?
  • Why does my dog smell of fish?

Think your dog may be affected?

If you're worried about your dog's health, always contact your vet immediately!

We are not a veterinary organisation and so we can't give veterinary advice, but if you're worried about any of the issues raised in this article, please contact your local vet practice for further information

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