Dogs have a lot of interest in bones, playing fetch, sniffing each other’s butts and… feet?!
All of the abovementioned things sound normal. And don’t need explaining. But what about the latter?
Why are dogs into feet? What’s to like about them?
No more wondering! This article will give you the answers to that and more.
Read on and discover:
- Whether dogs like the smell of human feet.
- What type of information about you can a dog get from your feet.
- How your dog strengthens their bond with you by getting close to your feet.
- If you’re encouraging your dog’s obsession with your feet without knowing it.
- And a lot more…
Table of contents
- Why do dogs like feet so much?
- 9 reasons why your dog likes your feet (obsessively)
- #1: Gathering information from the environment
- #2: It smells/tastes nice
- #3: Showing affection
- #4: Building connection
- #5: “I know what I want and I want it now!”
- #6: It’s a way to relieve stress
- #7: You may be encouraging this behavior without knowing
- #8: Your dog is bored or frustrated
- #9: They are protecting you
- 3 tips on what to do when your dog is obsessed with your feet
Why do dogs like feet so much?
Dogs like feet so much because by sniffing them they gather information about what you’ve done, where and with who you’ve been. Or they’re attracted to your pheromones, want to get your attention, relieve stress by licking. They might be bored or want to protect you when staying at your feet.
9 reasons why your dog likes your feet (obsessively)
Here are 7 reasons why your dog is obsessed with your feet. Dogs show their interest in your feet by either licking, biting, sniffing, or sitting on them. They may also steal your shoes or socks.
#1: Gathering information from the environment
The receptors in a dog’s nose and mouth are fascinating. A dog can gather information about their dog parent from their human’s sweat secretions.
A person releases sweat through sweat glands located on the feet. Your sweat contains salt, water, and other waste secretions.
The smell and taste of sweat can give your dog a lot of information about you. The data they receive can include who you have been around and where. Plus how you feel.
#2: It smells/tastes nice
Your dog may also be licking your feet because they like the salty taste. Or because they love your smell and find it comforting. And we all know how smelly feet can get.
#3: Showing affection
One of the ways a dog shows affection is by licking. Licking is an instinct of theirs to groom their loved ones. Hence this may be the reason for licking your feet.
Dogs stay near a person’s feet as this is the closest part of your body to them. If standing or sitting, it is effortless for them to lie on or next to your feet.
Reading tip: 11 Reasons Why Your Dog Sleeps At Your Feet + 7 Tips
Puppies pick up on behaviors from their mother. They rely on her for food and protection. Actions taught include their mom licking the puppies to clean them.
Puppies learn this and start licking things around them, including your feet. That’s how they show love and care for you.
#4: Building connection
Grooming is also a way dogs strengthen the bonds within their family.
Here’s how it works:
When your dog licks you, they release a hormone called oxytocin. Doing this shows your dog has formed a bond and emotional attachment with you.
#5: “I know what I want and I want it now!”
Another possibility is that your dog is licking you to get your attention.
For small dogs, your feet are the most convenient place to lick. Their action could tell you their water bowl is empty, they are hungry, they crave play time. Or they want to be loved.
#6: It’s a way to relieve stress
Dogs find licking soothing as it releases endorphins. They learn how comforting licking is from their mothers.
Mother dogs lick them to help relax and soothe their puppies. Your dog may be doing this to your feet to help you relieve stress and feel calm.
And that’s not all… Licking for them is also a self-soothing behavior helping them relax when feeling anxious.
Usually, they will come close to you and sit by or on your feet. This could also happen with dogs who suffer from separation anxiety.
If this behavior is unusual for your dog, check for other signs of fear or anxiety such as:
- Ears pulled back.
- Excessive drooling.
- Tail between the legs.
#7: You may be encouraging this behavior without knowing
Sometimes you might be encouraging a behavior without realizing it. It’s all about how you react to your dog’s licking. This determines whether they’ll do it again or not.
If you allow them to lick or sit on your feet, if you laugh or give them attention, they will see it as acceptable behavior. Even if you scold them, they might see it as a green light from your side.
And chances are they will continue doing this. Partially because they like it. But also because they realize this is how they can receive more attention.
And when it comes to attention, it doesn’t have to be positive to be rewarding for your dog.
#8: Your dog is bored or frustrated
Your feet are the closest vulnerable part of your body your dog can reach. So your pooch may bite, lick or nose your feet if they want something.
They could be doing this to get your attention as they are bored and want to play. Or they may be hungry and go for their feet out of frustration.
It’s almost like saying “Hey, did you forget about me? Some attention this way, please! Now!”
Biting your feet will result in a reaction that they enjoy and will see as playing.
#9: They are protecting you
Dogs love their humans, and they are very loyal to and protective of them. One of their biggest goals is to keep you safe.
Your dog may find comfort sitting on your feet. Or being very close to them. This way they can feel you are near.
Being close is so they can keep an eye on your movements. They could be alert and come to the rescue if something was to happen to keep you safe.
Your dog may also be sitting on your feet or close to them as they are territorial. They may be seeing you are their #1 person and prize.
But this should come as no surprise to you. Especially if you’re the primary caretaker. Or in your dog’s eyes – the giver of all great things (such as play, food and love).
So staying at your feet is your dog’s way of marking you as their dog parent. And their strategy to discourage other dogs from coming close to you.
3 tips on what to do when your dog is obsessed with your feet
A dog’s obsession with your feet can get very annoying. And start to bother you, especially if it includes biting.
A dog who sometimes licks or smells your feet is different to one that has an obsession with them. If there is a clear proof of an obsession, this indicates a behavioral problem.
But have no fear… your solution is near. 🙂
There are a few ways to discourage and help your dog stop their obsession with your feet.
#1: Implement reward training
Dogs learn well with positive reinforcement training. Or in other words, through reward-based training methods.
You can implement positive reinforcement techniques with treats, a clicker, or praise.
When your dog licks, bites, or noses your foot, don’t react. But what if your dog is near you without touching your foot? Then rewarding them is a no-brainer.
You can redirect your dog’s attention to a toy or activity when they start coming for your feet. Once they are interested in the new object or behavior, reward them immediately.
These responses will help reinforce the behavior you want from your dog.
Toss them a dog snack. Let them know they’re doing great.
Another thing to do when you want to discourage the behavior is to walk away. In another room where they can’t reach you.
Stay away for 5 or 10 minutes. This way your dog will get the message that you are not interested in being licked or nibbled at.
Licking and touching your feet is instinctual for dogs. They see it as giving you love. And consider it perfectly normal.
Warning: It is vital to discourage the behavior instead of punishing your dog. If you punish them for doing so, it can make them fearful of you.
#2: When to seek a professional behaviorist
Is your furry friend constantly following you around and biting your feet? If the bites seem aggressive or over the top, it’s a good idea to seek help from a professional.
Also, if you have more than one dog, consider whether there are signs of aggression. If one of your pooches stays at your feet and acts aggressive towards the other canines, it’s time to call in a pro.
Seeking help will keep peace in the household and protect other dogs from getting hurt.
In the meantime, it’ll be useful to give dogs their spot near you so someone doesn’t feel left out. Make sure all of your dogchildren get equal attention and time with you.
#3: Know when it’s time to turn to the vet
Kathy R. Connor, a veterinary surgeon, explains when a professional is needed.
Turn to one when your dog licks your feet all the time and doesn’t want to stop. She recommends consulting your vet to rule out any medical conditions or deficiencies.
A journal article describes Obsessive Compulsive Disorders (OCD) can occur in some dogs. If you’re worried that your dog may have this, take them to the vet for diagnosis and treatment.
Research shows that several conditions can cause excessive licking of surfaces (ELS). This study looked at medical, behavioral, physical, and mental disorders.
Researchers advise you to take your dog to a professional if licking becomes an obsession. This is because licking could stem from a medical condition such as stomach problems.