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Why Your Dog Licks Your Legs and Feet

By Aviram K.
Published in Training & Behavior
January 5, 2021
1 min read
Why Your Dog Licks Your Legs and Feet

You may find it annoying or icky when your dog licks your legs or feet. Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to stop.

Your dog licks your legs or feet in particular simply because your legs are the closest and most accessible body part to him.

Dogs can’t speak, so they communicate a lot by licking. Please understand that this behavior comes from a positive place - the majority of the time. 

Here are the most probable reasons why your dog licks in the first place:

  • It is an expression of affection. Grooming is a dog’s way of showing you he considers you a part of the pack. Your dog most likely feels very comfortable and close to you, or else he wouldn’t have exposed himself like this.
  • It comforts him. Some studies have shown that licking releases endorphins that make your dog feel calmer and more relaxed. Excessive licking, though, may signal an anxiety issue. Your dog may be licking you as a way to alleviate his stress.
  • Your dog may be bored. Licking may be just another way to alleviate the boredom.
  • If you just go out of the shower, your dog may just be trying to help you dry.
  • You may have a wound or an infection where your dog licks. Dogs’ saliva has some healing properties and will lick your wounds to clean and heal them up. 
  • It may be a submissive gesture. Dogs in the wild will sometimes lick the leader to show them respect.
  • Your dog may like the salty taste of your sweat.

Keep in mind that explanations for many dog behaviors are mostly theories. Since dogs can’t really speak to us, we can only assume and make the most logical and educated guess.

What You Can Do to Stop It

Here are some things you can try to make the behavior stop:

  • Teach your dog the “leave it” command.
  • Positively reinforce the desired behavior instead. Wait until the dog stops licking or redirect his attention elsewhere using some distraction like a toy. Then, reward him generously using treats, praise, or play. Remember to stay consistent, though.
  • Exercise your dog more. Giving your dog more exercise may help with this if the licking cause is stress or boredom related.

Tags

Dog LickingDog Behaviors

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Aviram K.

Aviram K.

Dog Behaviorist & Founder

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