Dog Behavior

Why Does My Dog Lick my feet? Science Reveals The Reason

Why Does My Dog Lick my feet

All of us who have been lucky enough to share our lives with a canine companion know that there are certain customs and habits that we find adorable but, at the same time, intriguing. One of the actions that most often surprises owners is: Why does my dog lick my feet? If you also ask yourself that question, you are in the right place. Today we will discover the enigma behind these licks.

Science tells us that, behind this act that can sometimes be even ticklish, there are deep reasons related to communication, nutrition, and the release of endorphins.

Science explains why your dog licks your feet

Some might think that this behavior is exclusive to puppies, but the truth is that both young and adult dogs engage in this activity, regardless of age. So, if you’re wondering why my dog licks my feet, you’re not alone. 

Dr. Stelow, from the University of California, explains that this canine action plays a fundamental role in information gathering, communication, and feeding. From the moment of birth, licking is essential. A mother dog will lick her puppies to clean them, help them breathe, and stimulate their digestion. In response, the puppies will also lick their mother’s face as a sign of submission.

Additionally, licking has the side effect of releasing endorphins in the dog’s brain, providing a feeling of well-being and pleasure. But why specifically do they choose our feet?

These are the reasons why your dog licks your feet

Each dog, with its own unique personality, will have its own reasons. Some of the most common reasons are:

  1. Deep Knowledge: Through the action of licking, dogs complement their olfactory sense, allowing them to detect the taste of a person. This provides them with valuable information, such as the state of health, mood, and chemical composition (hormones, toxins) of the person they lick.
  2. Attention Seeking: Ivan Pavlov, in his studies on “classical conditioning,”  pointed out that dogs could associate the “act of licking” with positive reinforcement, that is, with the attention they receive when doing so.
  3. Attraction to Familiar Smells: Feet, especially after a long day, give off odors that dogs can recognize and be attracted to. Additionally, they have a predilection for salty things, which makes a sweaty foot even more attractive.
  4. Anxiety Symptom: Some dogs may lick as a way to find relief from their anxiety. In these cases, it is vital to consult a specialist.
  5. Manifestation of Affection: Licking is just one of the ways dogs show their love and affection.
  6. Show of Respect: It is a way of showing their submission or respect towards you.
  7. Hunger Cue: Sometimes, if they are hungry or thirsty, they will choose to lick your feet.

How do you stop your dog from licking your feet?

When this becomes repetitive, our dog’s licking can be a problem. We should not bother with it, since it is a natural behavior that is only motivated by affection or the desire for attention. In addition, many times we are the ones who have reinforced that behavior that we now want it to stop doing. For example, if whenever he came to lick our leg or feet, we agreed to give him food or take him outside, the dog understood that it worked for him because it was a good thing, and he would continue to do it.

To begin to avoid it, we can remove the foot and tell him not to do it, giving him positive reinforcement every time he obeys. We can also use a toy to divert their attention. You may also like why my dog ignores me.

Divert his attention: diverting the dog’s behavior towards another activity can be a good solution to disaccustom your furry friend to this type of behavior.

Positive reinforcement: positive reinforcement can also be very useful to retrain your dog. Our advice is to have treats on hand and reward him when he doesn’t lick you. This way, he will understand that if he doesn’t lick you, he will receive rewards.

Basic commands: It can also be helpful to train your dog in basic obedience commands. This will make it easier, for example, when you tell him “no,”  to stop doing what he was doing.

Go to an ethologist. If you think that your dog’s licking is due to a major anxiety or behavioral problem, we advise you to seek help from a dog behavior professional.

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