Skip to main content

If your dog likes to lick your feet, consider yourself very lucky

If you live in a multi-dog household, you’re sure to have noticed that licking plays a big role in how your dogs interact. They might lick one another’s mouths, ears, eyes, or paws. According to behaviorists, licking is a nonverbal way for dogs to express their love, trust, caring, and submission within the pack. That pack of course extends to human family members. Dogs frequently show affection by licking human faces and hands, but why do dogs lick feet? Some pet parents find this endearing while those with especially ticklish toes discourage the behavior. Love it or hate it, you should consider yourself lucky if your dog licks your feet because it’s a mark of respect for you and your role within the pack.

In a Daily Dodo article, veterinarian Elizabeth Stelow of the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine says that dogs may also lick our feet as a way to engage in social maintenance behavior. “Like a friend giving you a face mask or braiding your hair, your dog is showing his love by caring for your skin and hair – the skin and hair on your feet, that is,” Stelow says.

Dog licking woman's feet.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Other reasons dogs might lick your feet

Dogs also lick to communicate and to understand their environment. They have an additional sensory organ called the Jacobson’s organ, which allows them to taste and smell at the same time, providing them with even more information. According to the American Kennel Club, sweaty stinky feet are full of biological information, such as pheromones making them an attractive target for dogs.

If your dog is obsessive about licking your feet it’s likely a combination of the sweaty salt taste and attention-seeking behavior according to veterinarian Gary Richter in a Readers Digest article. Typically pet parents react to feet licking by either laughing or yelling at their dog to stop. Whether positive or negative your dog is getting attention and so he will continue to lick your feet, says Richter.

What to do if you want to break the feet licking habit

If you want to discourage feet licking, you can simply get up and walk away. Richter also suggests redirecting your dog’s attention by offering a favorite treat or toy. You can use positive reinforcement when your dog stops licking to reward the wanted behavior. If your dog licks your feet obsessively and you can’t break the habit, it’s best to consult a veterinarian as there may be an underlying health issue.

Other sweet ways dogs show love and respect to owners

Bringing you a favorite toy

If your dog greets you at the door with a favorite toy in his mouth consider it an honor. In a Healthypets article, veterinarian Karen Becker says that when your dog brings you a favorite toy, it’s a sign of affection that reveals his love for you. According to Becker, if he drops the toy at your feet, “consider it a compliment and reward your dog with a smile, a scratch, and a game or two.”

Leaning on you

Most dogs enjoy social contact with people and while small dogs can have these needs met when being held, it’s more difficult for larger breeds. Many large dogs will lean their weight against their favorite people or might even sit on their feet as a way to show their affection.

Putting a paw on your lap

For some dogs just snuggling up beside their humans on the couch isn’t close enough. They like to extend a paw onto their person’s lap to show their love and devotion.

Playing follow the leader

Some dog breeds are more likely to follow their owners around than others. And those that were bred for centuries to work with people are more likely to be “Velcro dogs,” according to an article published by the Alliance of Therapy Dogs. One of the reasons dogs do this is simply because they enjoy the companionship of their favorite people.

Dog laying head and paw on owner's lap.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Final thoughts on feet licking

There’s no doubt that we benefit greatly from a loving relationship with our four-legged friends. According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are many health benefits to sharing your life with a dog. For example dog walking provides us with physical exercise and a chance to socialize. Playing with pets can decrease blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and depression to name just a few benefits. So, next time you cuddle up next to your buddy, tell him you love him and thank him for being a part of your life.

Topics
Vera Lawlor
Contributor
Vera was the pet columnist for 201 Family magazine and has contributed pet and animal welfare articles to Bone-A-Fide Mutts…
Can dogs have grapes? Read this before you feed this fruit to your pup
What to do if your dog eats a grape
Black dog looking at purple grapes

Grapes tick multiple boxes for humans. The fruit is thirst-quenching, sweet-tooth satisfying, filling (thanks, fiber), and packed with antioxidants that keep the body running long and short term. As a pet parent, you naturally want to provide your dog with the same benefits.

However, some foods that are super healthy for humans are toxic to dogs. You want special treats — like human foods — to be a fun bonding experience between you and your pup and for feeding strategies to focus on health. Therefore, understanding which foods are healthy (or at least safe to feed) and which aren't is important. Can dogs have grapes? Let's dig into what we know and what to do if your pup consumes a grape.
Can dogs have grapes?

Read more
How often should you bathe your dog? You might be surprised
Why you don't need to bathe your dog every week (or month)
Small dog on a purple leash in a bath

That new puppy smell is the absolute best until your furry friend rolls around in mud (at least you think it was mud ... but it doesn't smell like mud). The writing is on the wall at this point: Fido is due for a bath.

However, should you do like Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher reportedly do with their human children and wait until you see the dirt on your fur baby before throwing them in the bath? Conversely, if you consider your nightly bath or morning shower a blissful experience, should you extend the same to your pet?

Read more
Does your dog constantly sit on your feet? This is why
Here are the reasons a dog might gravitate toward your feet
A dog sits at the feet of two humans

Watching the funny sitting and sleeping positions our pets come up with has to account for at least half the joy of dog ownership. It seems that our beasties generally gravitate to one area for their naps, whether that's the left side of the bed, under the table, or on top of a human.

While some of this makes sense, it can be surprising when your dog sits on you in a weird way, especially on your feet. So why do dogs lay on your feet? Using your feet as a resting spot has a long history and stems from a few pretty interesting instincts.
Why do dogs lay on your feet?

Read more