A dog is licking the human's foot.

5 Reasons Why A Dog Licks Your Feet

8 min read

Does your dog love to lick your face, hands, neck, and almost anything they can when they are with you? If so, this most definitely isn’t uncommon, with dog lovers usually referring to each of the above as doggy kisses. Regardless, dogs also happen to follow you around and lick your feet the moment you slow down or stop walking. But why don't owners consider it a kiss when dogs lick their feet? Well, while some don't mind this behavior, most people find this annoying, bothersome, or even worrying. But what exactly is the reason for them wanting to lick our feet? An underlying reason is that dogs and humans communicate through actions.

Therefore, it is vital that you understand why your dog acts the way they do so you know how to respond to them, and you need to listen to the unspoken words that your dogs are trying to say. Otherwise, how can you help them if you don't know what they need? The more you understand your dog, the deeper your bond gets, and the more meaningful your friendship becomes. Speaking of which, a human-dog relationship is considered to be one of the purest relationships that mankind can have. To further emphasize this, Josh Billings once said that a dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself, and this is totally true of your furry friend. With that in mind, here are the top 5 reasons why your dog might lick your feet.

  1. Comfort Level

The dog is lying next to the human's feet on the floor.
Licking can be one of the ways to show the dog's affection.

Licking is often used as a mechanism for your dog to express affection towards you. So, when they do lick you, it usually means that they are comfortable and feel safe around you. After all, dogs don’t show affection to people they don’t trust. To put things into perspective, notice how your dog greets you by licking you when you get home? Licking your feet might just be their way of saying that they love you and that they are glad you are spending time together. So, you should be happy that your dog loves your company. Licking also happens to be a learned behavior, as mothers lick their puppies when they are young. This is how puppies feel loved and is the reason why licking is a dog's way to show love and affection, as well as being one of their means of communicating. Sometimes, when a behavior is not too bothersome and does not affect your daily routine, then it can be left alone. You can try to give your dog a toy for distraction or simply appreciate the fact that your dog loves you.

  1. To Get a Reaction

Dogs are incredibly smart and are great at picking up on small things in life. So, more often than not, you will find that they observe you far more than you observe them. For instance, when they see that they get a reaction from you from a particular behavior, they will repeat that to get the same or more responses from you. Dogs continually seek your approval and are often eager to earn it. So, when they lick your feet, the chances are that you laughed in response because you felt ticklish – so you might talk to them, pat their head, or play with them, with each of these being positive reactions that your dog loves. Because of this, they will try to repeat their actions over and over in an attempt to bask in your attention and receive affection and care from you. Therefore, when they continuously get a reaction when they lick your feet, this can turn into an attention-seeking behavior. This isn’t a cause for concern, but it is something to be aware of.

  1. To Gather Information

Your feet can be a source of various information that your dog uses when interacting with you. For example, your dog can sense your mood just by licking your feet. After all, they are very perceptive and are incredibly sensitive to your mood. For that reason, they can sense your emotions and will adjust how they interact with you accordingly.

For instance, have you noticed that your dog is nowhere to be found when you are angry? Or perhaps they make themselves scarce when you are about to throw a fit. Either way, your dogs are far quicker at sensing your feelings more than your family ever will.

The smell and the taste of your feet can also provide a wealth of information for your dog. It can give your dog an idea of what's for dinner, who you have been with, and where you came from. These things can make your dog excited, which will make them lick you more. For example, when they smell that Chinese takeout on you, they will probably go crazy with excitement.  Your feet also have sweat glands that release certain substances that your dog loves. After all, dogs like salty food and surfaces, and so it is pleasing for them to lick your feet.

  1.  Licking Makes Them Happy

A dog is lying in bed and licking the human's feet.
Dogs may lick your feet just because it makes them feel happy.

Licking prompts the release of endorphins, which makes dogs happy. This is why they love to lick. Your feet are the nearest, so it could be for no other reason than easy access. Sometimes, it merely means your dog is happy, so let them be.

We, humans, also love doing things that make us happy. This is why we have hobbies and interests because we want to be happy and stay happy. All in all, happiness is something that everyone wants to achieve in their lifetime - this applies to your dog too.

  1. They are Anxious

One sign to look out for when your dog continually licks your feet is anxiety. Licking can be your dog's way of trying to soothe themselves and release tension. When your dog has Anxiety Disorder, constant licking can be accompanied by panting or yawning, fast and short-tail wags, crouching, cowering destructive behavior, pacing, vocalizing, some repetitive behavior, and sudden aggression. Watch out for these other symptoms. When your dog shows signs of anxiety, bring them to your veterinarian right away. It is crucial that they get the help that they need early.

Cause for Worry

The critical question here is when to start worrying about the behavior. When the licking gets to the point of obsession, this is when you can begin to seek advice from your vet. You can consider feet licking to be an obsession when licking is all they want to do all day or if it keeps your dog from enjoying other activities. Repetitive behavior is a sign of anxiety and other conditions that may need professional help or medical intervention. Even when feet licking has not come to the point of obsession but has become bothersome, consult your veterinarian. Getting advice at an early stage can benefit both you and your dog.

How to Stop Your Dog from Licking Your Feet

A dog is touching the human's pants.
Positive reinforcement can help you overcome the dog's need to lick your feet.

Always approach with good intent and keep in mind that love and kindness go a long way. Do not punish your dog no matter how uncomfortable the behavior gets. Adverse and violent reactions can only make things worse. Use positive reinforcements to correct their behavior. There are positive reinforcement training techniques that you can use to distract your dog from licking, with a wealth of information available online on training techniques that can allow you to effectively help your dog. When all else fails, you can consult a trainer or get their professional services to develop a program to correct the behavior. You can also ask your vet as an additional option. The licking might even be a sign of more significant problems. Therefore, it is essential that your vet can get a precise diagnosis so your dog can get medical treatment or a recommended course of action.

In order for your dog to not have such problems, it must have a variety of leisure activities, as well as a sense of safety at home. Intelligent toys, a sufficient amount of attention from you as an owner, and more frequent walks reduce the stress factor. In addition, you may also need to change your personal behavior, which leads the dog to such reactions, while teaching yourself to communicate with your furry companion correctly can also be beneficial.

Final Word

As a rule, with a competent, specialist approach and responsible owner behavior, most dogs successfully get rid of obsessive habits and find much more interesting things in the world around them than what is at the tip of their tongue. However, it is important to remember that the problem is easier to prevent than to solve it. That is why you shouldn’t leave your pets on their own for prolonged periods of time. Dedicate them some time even if you are tired and do not want to do anything except watching TV. Your dog might relieve your stress and make you happier after a long day if you spend some time together.

To sum up, in most cases, feet licking is not something to worry about. As long as your dog is healthy and happy, those sloppy feet kisses can be ignored. But if it really bothers you, then regularly washing your feet can make a huge difference.

by GetESA

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