Picture of a dog licking feet - why do they do that?

Why Do Dogs Lick Your Feet? (The Answer May Surprise You)

Our veterinarians research and recommend the best products. Learn more about our process. We may receive a commission on purchases made from our links.

As much as we love our canine companions, sometimes they do things we don’t understand. Have you ever taken your shoes off or just walked around your house and discovered your dog licking your feet?  Have you ever wondered why in the world they’d want to do that? You’re not alone! 

Why Do Dogs Lick Your Feet?

It’s a gross habit, but it has a reason! And more importantly, it’s completely normal! It boils down to communication and your dog’s desire to understand its surroundings.

Taste and smell are critical to dogs, giving them a detailed worldview. And in the roof of your dog’s mouth is an organ that helps them taste and smell simultaneously, known as the Jacobson’s Organ. It connects the nasal cavity to the roof of his mouth.

Your feet are loaded with pheromones and covered in sweat and salt. These things attract your dog, causing them to lick you occasionally.

Dogs will also lick to convey affection, show submission, or because they’re anxious. In some cases, this behavior may become compulsory. They may also lick because they think they’re doing you a favor by grooming you.

Why Do Dogs Lick Your Feet All the Time?

If your dog is licking your feet all the time, it may be because he got a reaction from you quickly the first time. That’s not your fault; feet are very sensitive! The good news is that it’s something you can get your dog to stop doing with some positive reinforcement training.

Why Do Dogs Lick Your Feet After a Shower?

Your dog may be licking your feet after the shower because your feet are wet, and they want to taste the water. You’re also probably covered head-to-toe in exciting smells, and your dog wants to investigate them by tasting you.

What Happens if My Dog Licks My Feet?

Nothing will happen from your dog licking your feet. However, if you have a skin infection, open wound, or have applied medication to your feet, you should deter your dog from licking you there.

How Can I Keep My Dog From Licking My Feet?

You have a few options to prevent your dog from licking your feet. 

Wash Right Away

Because dogs are attracted to sweat, salt, and pheromones, you should wash your feet immediately after exercising or working all day. 

Wear Socks

Yep. Wear socks around your dog until the behavior has started to subside. The best way to stop them from licking your feet is to not even give them a chance.

No Reaction

Consistently give your dog no reaction to this unwanted behavior. Keep your manner neutral as you move your foot away. Your dog will eventually get the message this won’t get them what they want.

Tips from Our Vets

Dogs make excellent companions and bring so much joy to our lives. Unfortunately, however, they cannot speak to us.

If your pet exhibits odd behavior, it can be worrisome and difficult to know if the behavior is normal or a reason for concern.

Not sure why your dog is exhibiting a specific behavior?

  • Some behaviors can seem very odd but may be completely normal.
  • Others could signal illness or injury.
  • Due to the lack of ability for a dog to communicate with us verbally, it is imperative to pay close attention to what the dog is telling us through their behavioral changes.

The most important takeaway is that if you are ever concerned about a behavior that your dog is displaying, your best resource for information is your veterinarian.

In general, a new behavior that is not typical for your dog should be investigated. Examples would be:

  • Not eating
  • Suddenly sleeping more than usual
  • Being reluctant to go on walks or to play
  • Becoming aggressive or grumpy when interacting with other people or pets

These behavior changes most commonly indicate that something is wrong, and your pet needs to see their veterinarian as soon as possible. It is much easier and more likely to be successful, to treat an illness early in its course as opposed to waiting until the dog is very sick.

Other odd behaviors include:

  • Eating feces
  • Chasing their tail
  • Sudden bursts of activity (known as the “zoomies”)

These may be completely normal. However, if you notice a drastic change in your dog, for example, they never exhibited one of these behaviors, and now they suddenly are, it is prudent to have them examined by their veterinarian as soon as possible.

Even if the behavior is normal, it may lead to unintended issues.

For example, young dogs consuming their feces or the feces of other dogs can be a normal behavior but can lead to gastrointestinal upset as well as intestinal parasitism.

Parasites from your dog can cause serious health complications, not only for your dog, but also for you and your family, as many are transmissible to humans.

Licking of the feet or scratching may seem like normal dog behavior but typically indicates a health issue such as allergies, fleas, or skin infection.

Left untreated, these issues will worsen and cause additional discomfort for your dog.

Remember that your best source of reliable health information for your dog is your veterinarian. Because dogs cannot verbally communicate with us, it is essential to be proactive with any possible health concerns.

Working with a trusted veterinarian as your partner will ensure many happy and healthy years for both you and your dog.

Final Thoughts: Why Do Dogs Lick Your Feet?

There are several reasons why dogs lick your feet, some scientific and some behavioral. 

  • To taste and smell the environment around them through their olfactory organs.
  • To convey emotions like affection and anxiety or to groom you, show submission, etc…

If you’re looking for answers to explain your dog’s behaviors, you can check out our series of guides on why dogs do what they do:

Pet News Daily Staff
Pet News Daily writers are experts in pet care, health and behavior. We are members of Society for Professional Journalists and practice ethical journalism.