If your dog bites your feet and you wonder why, you’ve come to the right place!
In this article you’ll find out why your dog does it.
Keep reading to also learn more about:
- 6 different situations in which dogs bite feet and why they do it.
- How to differentiate between play biting and aggressive biting.
- 17 interesting reasons why your dog bites your feet (#14 is important).
- 9 tips based on positive reinforcement on how to handle feet biting and prevent it in the future.
- And more…
Table of contents
- Why does my dog bite my feet?
- Why does my dog bite my feet when I walk / run?
- Why does my dog bite my feet when I leave?
- Why does my dog bite my feet when I get home?
- Why does my dog bite my feet at night?
- Why does my dog bite my feet under the covers?
- Play biting vs. aggressive biting
- 17 reasons why your dog bites your feet (so much)
- #1: Your dog wants attention
- #2: Your puppy is teething
- #3: Your dog is excited
- #4: Your dog uses their mouth to explore
- #5: Your dog is bored and frustrated
- #6: Your dog is a herding dog
- #7: Your dog wants to play with you
- #8: Your dog’s behavior is reinforced
- #9: Biting feet is fun!
- #10: Your dog feels anxious
- #11: Your dog lacks stimulation
- #12: Your dog lacks consistent training
- #13: Something catches your dog’s attention
- #14: Your dog is in pain
- #15: Your dog is possessive
- #16: Your dog lacks early experience
- #17: Your dog lacks exercise
- 9 tips to stop your dog from biting your feet (so much)
- #1: Give your dog plenty of exercise and mental stimulation
- #2: Give your dog chew toys
- #3: Avoid punishments
- #4: Divert attention and redirect behavior
- #5: Give your dog something to chase
- #6: Do a time out
- #7: Give them the opportunity to chew and bite
- #8: Do not wave your feet in your dog’s face
- #9: Let your dog play with other dogs
Why does my dog bite my feet?
Your dog bites your feet because they are teething, in pain, or exploring. Teething puppies and dogs in pain bite to alleviate pain and swelling. They would automatically bite at your feet if you step on their tail or paws. In addition, they bite your feet because they are exploring.
Why does my dog bite my feet when I walk / run?
Your dog bites your feet when you walk/run because they’re herding or want to play with you. Herding dogs, such as German Shepherds and Corgis, nip or bite at ankles as part of their job. Dogs also bite your feet and play bow to you to invite you to play.
Why does my dog bite my feet when I leave?
Your dog bites your feet when you leave because they are anxious, or they want to get your attention. Some dogs are anxious when they are left alone. Thus, they bite your feet to keep you from leaving. In other cases, they bite your feet to draw your attention and do something they want from you.
Why does my dog bite my feet when I get home?
Your dog bites your feet when you get home because doing it is fun and they’re excited. They could be fascinated by the smell of your feet after wearing shoes all day. On the other hand, they are excited to see you and might expect to be taken for a walk.
Why does my dog bite my feet at night?
Your dog bites your feet at night because of a lack of exercise and mental stimulation. This is more likely if they’re left alone at home most of the day. They have pent up energy that they need to release. Otherwise, they’re going to engage in undesirable behaviors.
Why does my dog bite my feet under the covers?
Your dog bites your feet under the covers because they’re bored, frustrated, or something catches their attention. They bite your feet to entertain themselves. Sometimes they could be fascinated by your socks or the smell and taste of your feet.
Check out also: 9 reasons why your dog likes your feet (obsessively)
Play biting vs. aggressive biting
Before you solve the biting problem, know first if dogs are playing. Or being aggressive.
Remember, mouthing is part of being a dog. From the time they are born, they use their mouth to explore the world.
But it’s a different story when dogs use biting when scared or frustrated. This can easily lead to aggression.
But how can you tell if it’s play? What are the signs if it’s a precedent of aggressive behavior?
First, look at their body language. A dog play-mouthing has a relaxed face and body. There is no tension in their facial muscles. And their hackles are not raised.
Should they bite you, it’s either not painful at all or less painful than aggressive biting.
On the other hand, it’s aggressive behavior if your dog’s body is stiff. With or without snarling, you’ll notice them wrinkling their muzzle to show their teeth.
17 reasons why your dog bites your feet (so much)
#1: Your dog wants attention
Biting your feet could be your dog’s way of getting your attention.
Especially if you’re not looking at them.
Your feet are very accessible to them, whether you’re standing or sitting.
#2: Your puppy is teething
Is your dog a puppy? Then they could be teething.
This is likely if your dog has started chewing on other things. Shoes, the corners of the couch. Or just about anything.
Fun fact: A puppy has 28 baby teeth (adults have 42). These are razor-sharp, so it hurts if a puppy bites you.
These teeth come in when a puppy is between 5 to 6 weeks old.
Between their 12th and 16th week, the baby teeth shed. These will soon be replaced by adult teeth.
When a puppy is teething and shedding teeth, it’s either itchy or painful. Their gums are usually swollen.
You might notice some blood on their toys. Or some small teeth around your house. You might also observe your dog drooling.
To alleviate the unpleasant sensation, they take to nipping and biting. And your feet, and hands as well, could be the victims of this behavior.
#3: Your dog is excited
There are dogs that get overly excited by anything. They show their excitement by barking or jumping.
But sometimes, they bite your feet. And this could be annoying or frustrating.
While some dogs grow out of this behavior, many dogs don’t. They take this behavior until they become adults. And by then it had already been reinforced.
Why do dogs bite your feet when excited?
You can never know for sure. But one can assume that movement excites a dog.
For example, you’re running past them. Your moving feet excite your dog and so they try to bite them.
They could also be excited to see you after a day at work. Since your feet are easily accessible, they bite them when you get home.
Or when you get the leash, your dog is suddenly excited. They know you’re taking them for a walk.
What if you squeal when they bite you? Or you jerk your foot away? That could excite them more because they think you’re having a game.
#4: Your dog uses their mouth to explore
Even before they are able to see, puppies use their mouth and noses to explore their environment.
At this point, mouthing is their way of interacting with the world.
Just like human babies and toddlers who explore using their hands. Only that dogs have no hands.
And so they use their mouth to find food. Or to know if something is dangerous.
They also use their mouth to pick up objects to find out what the texture is.
And they bite to know if they can chew it. Or if they can rip it apart.
They also use their mouths to bite your hands, sleeves, feet, or pant legs.
#5: Your dog is bored and frustrated
When a dog is bored and frustrated, they might resort to biting your feet.
That’s because they have no other healthier ways of releasing their frustration.
Without anything to do, your dog is bound to get bored.
Imagine your dog being left alone at home while you’re at work. Waiting for you to get home could be quite a long time for a dog.
They could resort to undesirable behaviors to relieve their boredom. Some dogs destroy the couch.
Ripping the foam to shreds, now that’s a fun activity for your dog.
They could also dissect your favorite sneakers. Or they might try their teeth on the foot of your dining table.
Sometimes, even when you’re around, your dog can still get bored. If you do not spend time with them, or not give them exercise, bad behaviors will shine through.
Starting with biting your feet.
#6: Your dog is a herding dog
If your dog belongs in the herding group of dogs, that answers why they bite your feet.
Border Collies, Corgis, and German Shepherd Dog are just some of the herding dogs.
If you’ve got one of these, know that biting your feet had been bred into them for centuries. That’s one of the things they do when herding sheep or cattle.
Nipping at the heels of cows enables these dogs to drive the herd.
And since most of these dogs no longer herd animals, they see the family as a herd. They usually nip at the ankles to gather the family together.
Read further: What makes Corgis good herding dogs?
#7: Your dog wants to play with you
Does your dog bite your feet, then play bow to you?
Chances are, they want to play with you!
Dogs love to spend time with their favorite humans. They love attention, so they invite you to play with them by biting your feet.
Sometimes you’ll notice dogs doing this when you’re busy doing something. Or even when you’re just watching TV. Your dog will bite your feet to get you to play with them.
A dog owner shares on a forum that her puppy bites her feet when he wants playtime and attention. Her puppy is energetic and likes biting feet.
#8: Your dog’s behavior is reinforced
How you respond to your dog’s behavior has to do with their biting.
If you don’t stop it, your dog will keep on doing it. Or if you encourage the behavior, the more your dog will do it.
That’s because they think it’s right.
And the more you provide positive reinforcement, the more the behavior increases.
So your dog likes to bite your feet for whatever reason. How do you respond?
Do you jump and then run away from your dog? Do you lift your feet away from their mouth, but encourage them to go after your feet again?
Or do you give them more attention because they look so cute?
These responses communicate to your dog that biting your feet is okay. These actions only reward the behavior.
What you don’t know is that you’re unwittingly reinforcing an undesirable behavior.
#9: Biting feet is fun!
As mentioned previously, your response to a dog’s behavior can make them repeat it.
One reason could be that your dog finds it fun to bite your feet.
Your feet may not smell bad for you. But remember, dogs have powerful noses. They could smell something from your feet that they like.
Or your squeals when they bite your feet excite them. They think it’s a game. So they find it fun to keep biting your feet!
Kids, in particular, might find it ticklish when dogs bite their feet. They would laugh and move their feet playfully.
For a dog, it’s a sign that biting feet is a fun game.
#10: Your dog feels anxious
Sometimes, biting feet is out of anxiety.
Some dogs could be uncomfortable or anxious for some reason. So they suddenly bite your feet when you walk past them.
Biting your feet is their way of communicating with you. It’s their way of saying that something is bothering them.
In some cases, dogs get anxious knowing their owners are about to leave.
#11: Your dog lacks stimulation
When your dog lacks mental stimulation, they become bored.
And when they are bored, they engage in undesirable behaviors. Such as biting your feet.
Unfortunately, not all pet owners realize the importance of providing mental stimulation. They don’t know that it can affect a dog’s overall well-being.
Remember, mental decline affects dogs older than 8 years. Signs include disorientation, anxiety, and changes in sleep.
Dogs could also forget basic commands such as ‘sit’, ‘stay’, and ‘down’.
#12: Your dog lacks consistent training
Your dog bites your feet because they are not trained not to.
It’s simply not enough to say ‘no’ or push your dog away when they bite your feet.
Especially if they don’t know what it means. Particularly if you don’t do the same thing every time they bite your feet.
For instance, your dog bites your feet and you say ‘no.’ But the next time your dog does it, you simply pull your feet away.
Note: Without consistent training, your dog will keep on biting your feet. If they do this in their formative years, they’ll bring this behavior to adulthood.
#13: Something catches your dog’s attention
Dogs can get fascinated by even the smallest, insignificant things.
For example, you’re wearing socks that your dog happens to like. Or you’re wearing shoes and the shoelaces are undone.
Your dog will investigate that trailing shoelace. They might give chase and nip at your ankles.
#14: Your dog is in pain
Pain makes a dog bite.
Even with their owners.
A dog would do anything to protect themselves from an injury. They would air snap if they think you’re going to touch the area.
My friend’s dog, Oreo, bit her ankle while she was inspecting the dog’s back legs. Oreo was limping and my friend wanted to know why.
She had Oreo lie down so she could check the body for wounds or swelling. She was gently pressing from paws to the legs to the thighs.
A press to the thigh had Oreo whining. Then Oreo bit her ankle. It wasn’t a hard bite. But it let her know where Oreo was hurting.
Another reason why your dog bites your feet is if you accidentally step on them. They would automatically bite your feet to protect the hurt area.
Or to stop the pain you’re causing them.
#15: Your dog is possessive
Your dog might bite your feet if you go near their possessions.
It could be their food bowl or their favorite chew toy.
This is called possessive aggression. It’s when a dog guards things aggressively. They either bark, growl, or bite when a person approaches them.
They might see your approach as a threat. This is more likely while they’re in possession of something that they don’t want to give up.
You might also want to read: 19 reasons why your dog is out of control
#16: Your dog lacks early experience
If you’ve got a singleton pup from a breeder, this could explain your dog’s biting behavior.
A singleton pup has no littermates. In other words, it’s the only offspring of a dam.
Pups like this are more likely to engage in biting. Not only singleton pups, though. But also those taken away from the litter before their 8th week.
Why? Without littermates, these puppies cannot learn good bite inhibition.
Have you seen puppies in a litter play? There’s a lot of biting going around.
Of course, it’s only play. But if a pup is bitten too hard it yelps.
The biter is usually taken aback by the yelp. But it engages the other to continue playing. And this time, the biter knows too well not to bite hard.
But if the pup doesn’t learn from that experience – and bites too hard too often – you’ve got a shark in the making.
Now for singleton pups or those taken away from the litter too early. They have no idea whether they’re already hurting someone with their bite.
#17: Your dog lacks exercise
Too much pent up energy is bad for a dog.
Particularly if there are no healthier channels to release this energy.
As a result, they will resort to undesirable behaviors. Including biting your feet.
This happens if your dog doesn’t get an adequate amount of exercise. The amount of exercise depends on your dog’s age, breed, and health condition.
Imagine your dog spending hours at home waiting for you. You can’t expect them to exercise by themselves.
To make matters worse, dogs are at high arousal. They get excited about your return from work and playing together. So they’re already on the edge even before you can take them for a walk.
9 tips to stop your dog from biting your feet (so much)
#1: Give your dog plenty of exercise and mental stimulation
Here are just some of the good things a dog can get from mental stimulation:
- Alleviates boredom.
- Minimizes aggression.
- Keeps their mind sharp.
One way to give them mental stimulation is by using interactive toys. Such as a Stuffed Kong. If you want to know how to use it, here’s a helpful video:
Plenty of exercise is also important to keep your dog from biting your feet. That’s because they’re too tired to even give your feet attention.
#2: Give your dog chew toys
Chew toys can help ease the discomfort, pain, and swelling of a teething puppy.
You can give them pig ears, rawhide chews, or chew bones. This durable chew toy is an ideal toy even for an aggressive chewer.
#3: Avoid punishments
Punishments work, yes, but only in the short run. You might end up with a stressed-out dog.
That’s what this study found out. The authors studied 92 dogs and the effects of aversive training methods. This method includes negative reinforcement and positive punishment.
Dogs that underwent aversive training showed more stress-related behaviors.
When training your dog, positive reinforcement is more effective. Positive reinforcement makes use of rewards such as attention, praise, play, and food.
#4: Divert attention and redirect behavior
Keep a toy within reach.
If your dog aims to bite your feet, wave the toy in front of them.
This way, you divert their attention from your feet to the toy. And you redirect the behavior as well.
Not only that. This teaches your dog that toys, not feet, are for chewing/biting.
#5: Give your dog something to chase
You can’t train herding out of herding dogs. But you can control their biting.
Since they love to chase and herd people, give them a large ball instead. A yoga or exercise ball will do.
Just look at Bella having the time of her life:
If you don’t have a yard, find a spacious green space. Then have your dog at it.
They’ll have so much fun rolling and herding the ball on their own. And by the end of it, you’ll have a tired dog.
#6: Do a time out
If your dog doesn’t stop biting, switch to a time out.
Here’s what to do:
- Yelp when your dog bites hard.
- When your dog looks at you, pull your feet away.
- Ignore them for 10 to 20 seconds. If they continue biting, move away, or leave the room.
- After about 5 minutes, return to the room and continue playing.
#7: Give them the opportunity to chew and bite
Mouthing is a normal dog behavior.
As such, give your dog opportunities to chew and bite. That is, chew and bite toys and not feet. Give them chew toys, Kongs, and rawhides.
You can also play tug-of-war with your dog.
#8: Do not wave your feet in your dog’s face
Moving your feet can further encourage your dog to bite them.
So avoid waving your feet in their face. Also, avoid jerking your feet as your dog might see this as an invitation to play.
#9: Let your dog play with other dogs
Playing with other dogs not only provides your dog with socialization. It also teaches them good bite inhibition.
Dogs learn from their biting mistakes. So the next time they play with other dogs, they know not to bite hard.
Caution: Make sure the other dogs are friendly and vaccinated.