Recently many of my clients called me because they had found their dogs had a foot fetish and liked to lick their feet whenever possible. But they couldn’t figure out why. Many were worrying something was wrong with their dogs. Some were doubting that their feet taste tasty ... or smell smelly.
Is this the problem you're facing now? Actually, licking is a type of dog communication. A dog who licks your feet is using body language to tell you:
“I love you, so I lick you. And I don’t require you to lick me back. Am I wrong?”
This is the most common reason why domestic dogs lick their owner’s feet.
The dog cannot communicate its emotions by words to us. They try to show their affection and love by licking the feet or the face of their owner.
Dogs enjoy the licking, but sometimes it can just get to be too much for people. If you want your dog to stop, ignore them and walk away. Eventually they will learn when they should stop.
“I’m struggling with stress.”
It is thought that licking in dogs can act as a self-adjustment and pressure-releasing behavior. The licking releases pleasurable endorphins, which help the dog to reduce stress or cope with an annoying situation.
“Time for treat/walk/games...”
At times, dogs might be trying to demand something from you or remind you to do something by licking your feet, such as, when they feel hungry and so want food, when they think it is time to play games with you, and so on.
“I’m loyal to you. You can always count on me.”
Dogs are the most loyal friends to man and this is a fact any dog owner will vouch for. They express their loyalty to their master in various forms by licking, barking, wagging their tail around, etc.
“I must be Detective Conan in the animal world.”
A dog can use the millions of scent receptor cells in its nose and mouth to process certain information about its owner through licking his or her feet. It also uses its tongue to process the unique scents it can find on a human’s feet.
For instance, your dog may be trying to “taste” your mood when you return home after a long day of work. As another example, when a human body secrets sweat, it sends out information regarding the individual, which can be processed by the dog through licking.
Seeing is believing for you; licking is believing for me!
When seeing a dog licking its bowl or treats, you can easily conclude that it simply likes the taste. But did you know that the same thing can be true when a dog is licking your feet?
The human foot has many sweat glands, which release moisture that contains salt. Some dogs like it, and so they lick.
“Life is short, but boredom is long.”
Dogs don't have to work for their food, house or toys; they get it all for free. If you don’t find a job for them to do or keep them mentally stimulated, they are likely to feel bored.
To some dogs, licking a human’s feet is the simplest way to occupy themselves and forget the boredom.
“You are the boss.”
One of the main reasons that a dog licks your feet is to display its submission and respect to you. By doing this, the dog tries to ensure its place in the family by accepting the social order of the family.
“There is one more thing I’d like to say: I hope you don’t punish me for doing something that seems wrong to you but is natural to me. It will only damage my trust in you.”
Whatever the message foot-loving dogs want to communicate, the blissful look on their faces indicates that they, at least, think it’s a good one.
If your dog is performing unwanted licking, try to guide him or her to a new action that you desire with patience and kindness. Then reward the desired behavior and everyone is pleased.
Should you worry if your dog likes to lick your feet?
For the most part, your dog’s feet-licking habits are harmless. However obsessive and repetitive licking could indicate an underlying problem. If your dog’s licking behavior is constant, it might be time to call me or your vet.