Dogs communicate pretty differently than us humans. They show affection in different ways that we do. Most people believe that dog licks are equal to kisses. When your dog starts licking you as soon as you get home, that could mean that your pet missed you and is now excited that you’re back. But what if your dog likes licking your feet? What does it mean?
If you have ticklish toes, it can get annoying if your dog wouldn’t stop licking your feet. Even if you don’t have ticklish toes, these aren’t the kind of dog kisses a dog owner wants to get. But before you try anything to stop your pet’s excessive foot licking, understand the reasons behind this habit first.
Check out the reasons behind this strange behavior of your dog. Is it only a habit, or does your dog want to communicate something more serious? How can you stop your dog’s excessive foot licking obsession?
Why Do Dogs Like to Lick?
Licking has always been a dog’s habit since they were born, and they learned it from their mothers. New dog moms lick their puppies as a way to help them start breathing after birth. They also lick their youngsters to clean them off and help stimulate digestion.
As dogs grow older, licking becomes their nature of grooming themselves. They would lick their furs, skin, and even their paws to remove dirt after they may have stepped on the ground. Dogs licking themselves is also their way to help heal their wound or any irritation and pain. Licking helps remove dirt and dead tissue from injuries. Plus, their saliva has antimicrobial and antibacterial properties to help wounds heal faster.
When your dog gives you licks, it can also be any of these things. Your pet might be trying to clean you up or show their affection towards you.
Why Does Your Dog Like Licking Your Feet?
Licks or kisses from your dogs are a sign of their fondness towards you. But there may be times when these dog kisses become uncomfortable or too much. For instance, when they keep on licking your feet or toes.
But why do they have this strange habit of licking your feet? What’s the reason behind it?
To Get a Reaction From You
Sometimes, dogs licking your feet is as simple as them trying to get your attention. They might engage in this behavior because it usually gets a reaction from you. When your dogs lick your feet, you might laugh, talk to them, or move around. You might even yell at them, and while that usually means trouble for them, it doesn’t matter. You’re still giving your dogs attention.
Your reaction, either positive or negative, is reinforcement for your dogs to do it again. Before long, foot licking has become a habit for your dog to get a reaction or attention from you.
It’s a Comfort Thing for Them
We’ve established that licking is one of the habits for dogs to show fondness and affection. It’s typical behavior to dogs, which means they will only do it if they feel comfortable and safe around you.
In the animal kingdom, especially from a dog’s perspective, licking is a sign of affection. It’s a way for them to strengthen their bond with you. Licking is also how they groom themselves, and mutual grooming, for dogs, is their way to show you their love.
Dogs licking is a soothing action and helps release a hormone called oxytocin. It can be their stress reliever. So, if your dog keeps licking your feet, that could mean they feel comforted, happy, and safe around you.
You Might Have Unconsciously Encouraged the Behavior
Dogs are often adept at reading human behavior. If your dogs once licked your feet and you show them that it’s okay, they might continue with this behavior. Your dogs might also realize that licking your foot helps console you. In that case, they might develop this habit as a way of showing support and soothe you when they feel you’re feeling stressed.
They May Trying to Communicate Something
Dogs have a different way of communicating than us humans. We are not always good at interpreting their message the way they are telling it to us. For instance, when your dogs start licking your feet, it might be a sign that they are trying to tell you something.
Your dogs might want to tell you that they are hungry or to open the doggie door because they want to get out to play. Either way, when dogs are excessively licking your feet, chances are they need something from you.
They Are Gathering Information
Dogs have excellent receptors in both their nose and mouth. These use these capable receptors to process information from their surroundings. Add the fact that the human body secretes sweat through glands that are also found on your feet.
Licking your feet may be a way for your dog to gather information. Your dog might want to know where you’ve been, whether you played with other dogs or your general mood.
How to Stop Foot Licking When It Goes Too Far
Licking is normal behavior for dogs, but when foot licking becomes excessive, it can be uncomfortable for you in the long run. It can also be a less than ideal habit your dog can develop.
But there’s no need to react in a big way or punish your dog for licking your feet. Instead, you can replace this strange behavior with something new and more acceptable. If your dog has a habit of excessively licking your feet, you can positively rectify the situation with some solutions below.
1. Simply Walk Away From Your Dog
When your dog gives you kisses and affection, it’s hard to put them down and not bask in the love they are giving you. But when dog kisses become uncomfortable foot licking, there’s no reason to make your dog feel horrendous about it.
You can simply walk away from your dog when it starts licking your feel. In due time, your dogs will receive the message that it’s not an entertaining behavior.
2. Distract Them With Appropriate Toys
When a dog starts to lick your foot, you can provide them with a distraction. Alternate their attention from your feet to a chew toy and give them lots of praises. It’s a fantastic way of providing your dog with positive reinforcement for stopping their foot licking habit.
But when licking your feet becomes an obsession for your dog, you might need some help. If there’s no way you can be with them without wearing socks, it might be time to visit a veterinarian. Your vet can look deeper into the reason behind your dog’s excessive licking.
There might be underlying medical conditions to your dog’s behavior. Your vet can prescribe anti-anxiety medications while looking for better solutions to stop your dog from licking your feet.