You just got home from a long day at work and you kick off your shoes and lay down on the couch. Your dog comes and greets you, and decides to lay just at your feet. All of the sudden, you notice that she is licking your feet, which tickles and you wonder why. To you, your feet taste disgusting, as they've been in shoes all day, but to her, it tastes quite different. In fact, your dog loves the taste of your feet, just as the love the taste of your face and even your hands. Exploring the answer to that question can help change your perception of your dog’s desire.
The Root of the Behavior
Dogs are made quite differently than humans are. The way they communicate, show affection, and act on the daily is specific to their breed, and it helps them be the best type of animals they can be. Licking is something dogs love to do, whether it is through licking other animals, people, or themselves. You may notice your dog loves to lick your feet, and although it feels weird, there is actually a purpose to it. Dogs will lick your feet to show your their respect and honor. They know they are your pet and they love being in that role, and being your companion. Just as though they lick your face or any other parts of your body, dogs will lick your feet, in a way to give you attention and affection. They also are gathering information about you, as well as communicating, to you. Whether they want your attention, food, or even a walk, they may notify you through licking your feet. When dogs are growing up, they tend to lick other animals, and specifically their mother as a way of interacting in their relationship. Dogs will also lick you as a habit that brings them enjoyment. When dogs lick you, they have pleasure endorphins released. Your feet are more moist than other parts of your body, and due to this, the sweat and scent of your skin may be more intense than anywhere else. Whether they are grooming you, or loving your scent, there is a reason as to why they are choosing your feet. It is specific to each dog and their desire for licking your feet. There may also be negative causes beyond affection, as well as need. If you feel like your dog is licking your feet, obsessively, it may be best to get your dog checked at the veterinarian.
Encouraging the Behavior
If your dog is licking your feet, it may first be best to determine why they are doing it. If your dog is licking your feet out of desire and out of the need to deliver and receive affection, it may be best to allow them to lick your feet, and even encourage it, at times. Licking of all sorts is how animals communicate and in no way is harmful. Due to this, if your dog is licking in this positive and natural way, it may be best to allow it and encourage it, if that is what they need. Sometimes, licking can also be for the purpose of soothing themselves. Your feet may display the scent of you, and if that is the case, the taste may soothe any anxiety or negative emotion your dog is having. If you feel your dog is licking out of compulsive reasoning or tends to be attached to your feet, it may be best to help them cope in another way. If they seem to be struggling and unable to find a new way of coping, taking your dog to the veterinarian may be helpful. This way, your dog can heal in some capacity, so licking is more balanced, especially if they are licking someone other than themselves.
Other Solutions and Considerations
Licking is a natural act that all dogs take part in. Whether they tend to lick themselves, another dog, or their owner does not matter, but understanding their reasoning can help you in taking proper care of your dog. If you feel it is a problem, you may want to help redirect your dog to licking at a balanced pace or you may want to help them cope and heal any issues they may have of anxiety, frustration, or fear. It may also be wise to help them feel comfortable and safe at stressful times so licking does not become obsessive.
Whether we are dogs or humans, we tend to want to feel calm, collected, and loved. As canines, licking is a way to achieve those goals as well as communicate with their outside world. Supporting them, loving them, and allowing their needs to prosper can help you and your owner stay more connected.