1. To express his affection to you
A dog can lick your feet to express his attachment and affection. A dog's "licks" are a tender gesture, like little kisses on a person you love. But be careful, if a little lick "in passing" is quite normal and banal, it is necessary to worry if these licks of your dog (on your feet or elsewhere...) become systematic and compulsive. A dog that is constantly seeking affection from its owner may be suffering from hyperattachment, in which case, detachment therapy will be necessary to ensure your dog's well-being!
2. To get your attention
When a dog licks our feet, we rarely remain indifferent. Either we hate it and we push away our dog! Or we love it and we start laughing or talking to it under the licks that tickle us! Whether you love or hate it, in any case, the common point between these two situations is that you pay attention to your dog. Your pet understands this very well and can simply repeat this behavior to get what he wants: your attention.
3. To gather information about you
Our feet, especially if they have been in closed shoes all day, are full of biological information for a dog. The sweat glands of our feet release sweat and their glands release sebum, two secretions that dogs are able to analyze with their millions of olfactory receptors in their nose and vomeronasal organ... the same way they perceive pheromones left in the environment by their fellow humans. For the dog, licking a human's feet could simply be a way to learn more about him!
4. Because he likes the taste of your feet
Yes, it will not have escaped your attention, but dogs do not have the same tastes as human beings, so licking feet, especially if they smell strongly, could be a simple gustatory pleasure for the dog. Indeed, the salty taste of the sweat on our feet could be enough to explain the behavior of some "foot licking" dogs.
5. To calm anxiety or a tense situation
If your dog is constantly licking your feet, it may be to express a state of great stress or to soothe a situation that is causing him anxiety. In the first case, the licking allows the dog to calm itself (like someone who is nervous biting his nails), and in the second case, to soothe you when it feels too tense or angry. In the second case, the dog puts himself in a low position, as if he wanted to be small, with his ears lowered and wagging his tail.
How to get your dog to stop licking your feet?
The first thing to do is to understand why your dog is doing this. If this behavior is recurring and compulsive in your dog, it is either because you have unintentionally reinforced the behavior or because your dog is using this behavior to relieve stress and anxiety. Therefore, it is essential that you do not add additional stress to your dog by arguing or punishing him, but rather apply the following tips to get him over the habit:
- Be consistent: if you don't accept your dog licking your feet, never accept it, but don't accept it every other time,
- Ignore your dog completely when he licks you,
- Then, when your dog has moved on, divert your dog's attention to another activity, such as an occupying game, so that he does not return to your feet,
- Meet your dog's needs by providing daily walks, socializing, and playtime.
If these tips are not enough and/or your dog shows other signs of stress, anxiety, or hyper-attachment, seek help from a veterinary behaviorist and/or a dog trainer. Not only will these professionals be able to help you stop your pet's annoying behavior, but they will also address the root causes of your pet's behavior and relieve his stress and anxiety.