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.

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.

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.

Editors' Recommendations

Vera Lawlor
Vera was the pet columnist for 201 Family magazine and has contributed pet and animal welfare articles to Bone-A-Fide Mutts…
4 reasons why your dog might need a diaper (and which kind you should get)
When considering dog diapers, you need to think first about their purpose
Dog gets a green reusable diaper

Most dog owners luckily never need to reach for the diaper bag — we potty train our puppies and often enjoy the results for their whole lives. However, there are a few reasons why you might need to invest in dog diapers. Some of these are passing conditions, but as your pet ages, you may find that dog diapers become a part of your routine. It sounds a bit unpleasant, but with a little help, you can tackle it.
Why might my pet need them?
While most dogs will hopefully never have to wear any, they could wind up in doggie depends, temporarily or for life. Some pet parents use diapers when they know they won't be able to let their animal out to potty -- on a long plane ride for example. That's a good time for a one-off. Here are a few reasons you might need to stock your drawers with dog diapers.
They've gotten older
As pets age, sometimes incontinence sets in (and it could happen to you, too). This comes from the muscles of the bladder getting weaker and not performing as well, meaning a little bit of pee leaks through. It's much more common in female dogs, but can happen to any pooch.
She's in heat
Not totally unlike when a human has monthly bleeding, you might spot a bit of bloody discharge from a female dog in heat (fortunately, it doesn't happen as often, only a couple times per year). She also may urinate more frequently or even scent mark during this time.
He needs to be fixed
Before neutering, male dogs often mark, sometimes almost constantly, particularly if they can smell a female dog in heat nearby. If you're choosing not to neuter, you'll have to use a belly band a lot, though sometimes dogs can be trained out of this behavior with time and dedication.
They have a health condition
If your animal suddenly starts losing control of their wee, it's likely something simple, such as a urinary tract infection. Some long-term conditions like Cushing's disease, diabetes, and kidney problems could also be the issue. Work with your pet care team to ensure that a diaper won't interfere with topical medication or spread bacteria.

What kind of diaper should I get?
There are a few different kinds out there, depending on exactly what issue you're working on with your pet. Many male dogs, especially if they are really just scent marking, will require a . Female dogs in heat likely require a , but don't worry, there's a little hole for the tail. Do a bit of research including buying one kind and seeing if it works. Try to be as sustainable as possible and purchase cloth options that can go straight into the wash when possible.

Read more
Looking for a fluffy and affectionate pup? Give the American Eskimo dog a try
Considering a spitz? Take a look at the American Eskimo dog
American Eskimo dog smiling at the camera

At first glance, you might confuse an American Eskimo dog with a shih tzu or even a Pomeranian. Or you might mix them up with the Canadian Eskimo dog, a 4,000-year-old animal that's native to America and was bred by the Inuit to pull sleds. But the American Eskimo dog (or Eskie) is a totally separate breed that's both beautiful and family-friendly. While no dog is right for everyone, you should consider this beastie if you want a unique and lovable pup. They might be exactly what your home needs to become complete.
Where does the American Eskimo dog come from?
Don't be fooled by the name, this pup came about in the 1800s and was bred by German immigrants as a farm dog. That means it's one of many spitz dogs, which also includes the malamute, Icelandic sheepdog, and Samoyed. The name was changed because of anti-German sentiments around World War I. Interestingly, this was a very popular show dog, and many performed in the circus and on stage! If you do wind up adopting an Eskie, you could get a regular old diva.
What is this breed like?
These fluffy friends can stay as small as 6 pounds in the toy size or up to 35 pounds, which can be standard, but they all have huge personalities regardless of stature. Because the American Eskimo dog was a working breed, they need a lot more exercise than you'd think just by looking. But they're highly trainable, loving toward people, and very energetic, so you should have no problem taking them on walks and to outdoor gatherings. If your routine already includes hikes or even strolls, the American Eskimo dog might be your perfect companion.

Who should get an Eskie?
This is a family dog through and through. Eskies require a lot of interaction and love — they sometimes misbehave if not given enough attention, which could include chewing up your favorite furniture or barking incessantly at seemingly nothing. That means you want to think carefully before committing to them, as you would with any pup.

Read more
How to teach your dog burrito, the most adorable dog trick
Here are the 4 steps to learn the dog burrito
A frenchie makes himself into a dog burrito by wrapping himself in a blanket

What's the cutest trick you've ever seen your dog do? We bet this will top it. Plus, many well-trained dogs will probably pick it up pretty quickly. If you haven't seen this trend yet, check out the adorable and hilarious dog burrito. It's exactly like it sounds, meaning your pooch wraps himself up in a blanket and turns himself into a lunch lookalike. The video breaks it down into exactly what steps you need to take to teach your pup this move.

There are a number of tricks to teach your dog, and you probably started out with sit. In order to get to dog burrito level, he needs to have some of that baseline already down. Set to Meghan Trainor's "Made You Look," the video starts out with a very sweet Maltipoo named Bingo standing on a rug.

Read more