As dog owners, we’ve all been there: your dog showers you with kisses in the form of licking when they are particularly excited. While it is true that dog’s mouths (and tongues for that matter) find their way to all sorts of interesting places, they never hesitate to lick their owner’s face, hands, and in some cases, feet. Some dogs have obsessive tendencies around licking and can take it to extremes. But, what does it mean when a dog licks your feet? Are they trying to tell you something with their behavior? Experts say that licking is considered a multipurpose behavior, which means that the exact motive can be difficult to identify.
Dr. Elizabeth Stelow, who is the chief of animal behavior services at the University of California, says that licking is a very important action for dogs. Licking allows them to gather information, communicate, and is also a big part of feeding as well. Mother dogs lick their puppies to help them start breathing, stimulate digestion and clean them right after birth. Puppies lick their mom’s face to show submission—and licking releases the feel good hormones known as endorphins. But why do they lick feet?
While every dog is different, there are some reasons for dogs to lick feet: it could be that licking feet elicits positive reinforcement like the human paying attention to the dog. Or, it could be a way for the dog to engage in social grooming. There are other possibilities, like that the dog is showing affection by caring for the feet, or they simply do it because they like to lick things. Dogs could also exhibit this behavior because they are trying to soothe themselves, too.
So, if you do not like it when your dog licks your feet it is suggested you simply walk away from the situation. Your dog will get the message. Luckily, this behavior is normal and no cause for concern.