Have you ever wondered: why does my dog lick my feet? For some owners, this behavior may seem odd. And for those with ticklish feet, it can be downright unpleasant, especially if your pup’s licking becomes a regular occurrence. But licking is a perfectly normal behavior for dogs. They lick to communicate and to take in their surroundings.
Your dog has an additional sensory organ, called the Jacobson’s organ, which connects his nasal cavity to the roof of his mouth. This organ allows him to taste and smell at the same time, so he’s able to take in even more information.
Bitches lick their pups to communicate affection and to provide necessary care. Licking can also be used to express a wider range of emotions in dogs, including submission and anxiety. For some dogs, licking even takes on a compulsive nature. Excessive licking is a bit like biting your nails and can be very irritating for owners.
So, Why Feet?
Sweaty, stinky feet are full of biological information, such as pheromones. Sweat also contains salt, which many dogs find appealing. There is a difference, however, between an occasional lick and a licking habit. If your dog takes licking a step too far, it could be a behavioral problem.
When your dog licks your feet, chances are you respond immediately. This can quickly develop into an attention-seeking behavior, especially if your dog thinks it’s a game. The good news is that with a bit of training, you can spare your toes from further assault.
How to Stop Your Dog From Licking Your Feet
You shouldn’t punish your dog for this behavior, even if it makes you uncomfortable. Instead, use positive reinforcement training techniques to distract your dog from licking. Truly determined lickers may require more drastic measures. You can always consult your veterinarian or a trainer to develop a strategy to deter licking in the future.
What to Do If Your Dog Won’t Stop Licking His Paws
While it’s perfectly natural for your dog to be interested in your feet, if he’s licking his paws incessantly, there may be an underlying medical cause. AKC’s Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. Jerry Klein says that if your canine companion is licking only one paw, look for cuts or abrasions (or even an insect bite). While licking is an instinctual way for dogs to tend to their wounds, it can be counterproductive and cause secondary infection and inflammation.
If your pup is licking multiple paws, examine each one, especially between the toes. Dr. Klein says that if the area between the paws is red, swollen, and/or inflamed, your dog may have come into contact with a caustic material, such as fertilizer. Excessive licking could also be due to allergies, including food allergies, or parasites, and warrants a trip to the veterinarian.