Why Does My Dog Lick My Legs?

Few things are likely to get your attention faster than feeling a warm, slobbery dog tongue slide across your bare feet. Whether its the occasional surprising jolt or a constant and annoying habit, if your dog is licking your legs and feet, you may be wondering why theyre showing this strange behavior.

If youre tired of your dog always licking your legs, there are some surprisingly simple tactics to change this behavior. Most of the time, its pretty easy to spot what reward your dog gets for seemingly random behavior.

If your dog is licking your legs, its likely that hes trying to get your attention, but he may be trying to communicate a more complex emotion, and that may take some more careful observation to pin down the why. If youre at all worried about your dog, its probably worth filming the behavior and showing your vet, just to make sure its nothing too serious. But most of the time, your dog is licking your legs to communicate to you, they are trying to express one of two general feelings: Affection or Stress.

Even within expensive and high-tech breeding programs, the first step when a puppy is born is to place them near their mothers face. I personally dont mind the occasional wet kiss from my dog, even if he does choose to show his love between my toes. A dog licking your legs is a submissive gesture in order to demonstrate that they recognize your place as the leader.

If your dog is licking your legs and seems fearful or anxious, watch their behavior and ask yourself these questions: For dogs, unlike most humans, a majority of their sensory perceptions are gathered through their mouths and noses. Dogs have a tremendous sense of taste and smell , so they may be licking your legs because they found something interesting on them.

Before we start troubleshooting what you had for lunch thats your dog is enjoying off your legs, we first need to talk about how they are tasting and smelling the world you share. Its kind of hard to get across the full implications of this biological edge dogs have over us when it comes to taste. Therefore, you shouldnt be shocked if your dog finds something tasty or interesting on your legs that it wants to put in its mouth.

You may have dropped some food on it at lunch today without noticing, or splashed some water on yourself walking through the rain, or basically anything. A lick and a sniff gives your dog all the info about you that it needs, kind of like your Facebook profile turned to smell. Sure, a wet one to the toes may get your attention, but you may still be wondering why your dog wont leave your feet alone!

Regardless of where your dogs licks are landing, below are some tips to help discourage this behavior, which can quickly become annoying and is always a little gross. There are a lot of reasons your dog may want to lick your legs and feet, and it may not be worth the stress for both of you to try to curb this behavior. If your dog is licking you because they are either stressed or trying to show affection, if you want them to stop, the tactic is the same: give them reassurance.

Why do dogs lick humans legs and feet?

Feelings. One of the main reasons a dog will lick a persons feet is to indicate their submissiveness to their master. More importantly it indicates their happiness in this role. By displaying this act of domesticity and submission, the dog may ensure its place in the family by accepting the social order of the home.

Why is my dog licking me so much?

Many dog owners view dogs’ licking as a sign of affection similar to kissing. Obsessive licking may be a sign of underlying issues, including anxiety, boredom, or fear. Trick training is an effective way to redirect problem licking in a positive way.

After a nice walk with your beloved furry friend, you are relaxing on your couch. You call Maya over and she gives you warm slobbery kisses to your legs. While some might find it gross more than others, you may be curious as to why shes displaying this sort of behavior. Why does my dog lick my legs? Is there something wrong? Is she trying to tell me something?

Their brains produce and release a hormone known as endorphins that gives them a feeling of pleasure and comfort. It can be simple food crumbs that we may not notice are on our legs and Maya, with her adorable snout, smells it, therefore she licks.

Usually, if her request is not met, itll most likely be followed by sporadic whimpering or those insanely cute puppy-dog eyes that we can not resist. On the flip side, if you are not germaphobic or have no open wounds, licking, as mentioned earlier, doesnt cause harm. Just make sure that you dont have any cream or ointments applied to the area where it is being licked, as they may contain ingredients that could be harmful to the pup.

We will be using a method known as operant conditioning in which canines learn through actions resulting in rewards or punishments. You dont want to completely phase out the act of licking altogether as this can cause major behavioral issues.

Possibly on some occasion you have wondered why my dog lick my legs so much, as well as other parts of the body. It is something that is really curious, although it has its explanation and may be due to different causes. What we can say is that it is one of the ways that dogs have to communicate.

Reason 1: Attention-Getting Behavior

Dogs are smart and social animals, and they’re always looking for cues and opportunities to get what they want. If your dog licks your legs every once in a while, they’re probably tasting something that they like (more on that later though). But if they are constantly licking you, this is likely a learned behavior.Picture this: You’re laid out on your couch, head buried in a good book or your phone. Your dog may have come into the room looking for attention, maybe even carrying a toy. You, attention buried elsewhere, may not even notice that your dog is looking for attention.What’s he supposed to do? He’s a good boy, and he knows he’s not supposed to bark, but he really wantsSo he walks up and gives your toes a wet one, and guess what?It worked!He probably gets your attention immediately. You may even make a fun and exciting noise. “Oh boy!” Your dog thinks. “That sure did work!”So next time, your dog skips the sad expression and dropping toys at your feet, and goes right for a leg-lick. Over time, you both may just grow used to this being how you greet one another or start an interaction.If your dog is showing any type of sustained and regular behavior, all you have to do is pay attention to what happens next. Most of the time, it’s pretty easy to spot what reward your dog gets for seemingly random behavior.If your dog is licking your legs, it’s likely that he’s trying to get your attention, but he may be trying to communicate a more complex emotion, and that may take some more careful observation to pin down the “why.”

Reason 2: Complex Communication

Dogs are social animals and have, like people, developed complex communication signals. Their emotions run nearly the full range of human emotions, and dogs that have strong connections to their owners will likely find ways to express to their owners what they are going through.There’s no way we could explain all of the possible feelings your dog may be trying to express by licking your legs in only a few words. If you’re at all worried about your dog, it’s probably worth filming the behavior and showing your vet, just to make sure it’s nothing too serious.But most of the time, your dog is licking your legs to communicate to you, they are trying to express one of two general feelings: Affection or Stress.

Affection

It probably comes as no surprise to you that dogs lick to show affection. This is innate behavior in dogs that is reinforced from the moment they are born.Even within expensive and high-tech breeding programs, the first step when a puppy is born is to place them near their mother’s face. She will sense the presence of her puppy, and start licking.We know that the mother will lick to clean the puppies and to get their blood moving in their tiny bodies. It’s difficult to scientifically say with surety that the licking is associated with bond-building and affection, but anyone who has seen a mother caring for her newborn pups will probably recognize the sweet, caregiving behavior as not dissimilar to human parents caring for their own newborn babies.Licking as a sign of caregiving affection is, therefore, one of the first experiences in a dog’s life. Puppies lick faces, dogs lick the air with excitement when their owners return home, they lick each other to groom one another. Dogs simply love to lick!If your dog is licking your legs and turning his eyes up to you, you’ll probably be able to tell when it’s just a little loving tongue tap. I personally don’t mind the occasional wet kiss from my dog, even if he does choose to show his love between my toes.

Reason 3: Taste

Unfortunately, it’s not always a dog’s burning love for you that may drive them to shin licking. Dogs may also lick your legs or feet to communicate to you that they are stressed.As I’ve mentioned, dogs have sophisticated social systems. This stems back to their roots as wolves, which are pack animals led by an “alpha” and all the other wolves in the pack are subservient to that alpha.In your home, your dog hopefully views your or another human member of the house as the alpha. A dog licking your legs is a submissive gesture in order to demonstrate that they recognize your place as the leader.It’s possible though that your dog is responding to some cues you are demonstrating, either on purpose or subconscious, that is causing them to go overboard with demonstrating their submission.If your dog is licking your legs and seems fearful or anxious, watch their behavior and ask yourself these questions:If your dog is showing signs of stress and licking you to the point of annoyance, it’s probably because they are trying to show you submissive, beseeching behavior in order to rectify some wrong that they are perceiving.Our section on fixing leg-licking behavior below offers some great advice on helping your stressed-out dog lick less, but before we move on to behavior modification tactics, there’s one more pretty obvious reason that your dog may be licking your legs.

Tastes Like…You!

If you dropped a snowcone on your lap today and your dog is currently licking it off your legs, you probably didn’t need to look up why your dog is licking your legs.But you may be surprised that your dog may be tasting something on your legs that you didn’t even know was there and won’t be able to wash off. Namely, you.Without getting too much into the science of it, your dog has an organ in their brain that we don’t, commonly referred to as the Jacobson’s organ. This organ allows dogs to smell animals pheromones.Your dog may lick your legs in order to taste and smell your pheromones (yep, you have them). This is especially true if you and your dog are closely bonded. A lick and a sniff gives your dog all the info about you that it needs, kind of like your Facebook profile turned to smell.

Yeah, But Why My Legs and Feet?

All of this so far has been about why your dog is licking, but not necessarily why your legs and feet. Sure, a wet one to the toes may get your attention, but you may still be wondering why your dog won’t leave your feet alone!This is probably just a simple case of anatomy. How tall is your dog? How tall are you? If you’re both standing next to each other, what’s front and center at their eye level? Your legs and feet.Your dog surely has no particular affection for feet and legs. They are probably just licking those because that’s what they can easily reach. If your dog is very tall, or you are very short, you may be having these same issues with your dog licking your arms or elbows.Regardless of where your dog’s licks are landing, below are some tips to help discourage this behavior, which can quickly become annoying and is always a little gross.

Ignore

This may seem counterintuitive, but if your dog is licking you to get your attention, the best way to stop them from licking is to ignore the behavior. Just like how they developed this habit in the first place, they will soon switch up tactics in order to get what they want.

Give Them Other Tools

Ignoring your dog’s licks may be step one, but the next step is to give them some other behavioral tool to get your attention. But make sure it’s something that will work for both of you!A lot of experts recommend teaching your dog to come up and sit at your feet. When you notice, you give them lots of attention, and yay, your dog sits pretty for you.But if your dog is trying to pull your attention away from your phone or a good book, sitting pretty is likely just going to be frustrating for your dog and drive them back to their old habits of toe-licking.Instead, considering teaching them a fun, demonstrative trick, like standing on their hind legs. This is a fun activity to do with your dog and will almost surely get your attention while sparing you a slobbery lick.

Reassure Them

If your dog is licking you because they are either stressed or trying to show affection, if you want them to stop, the tactic is the same: give them reassurance.A dog showing affection through licking your legs is trying to communicate their love to you, like patting a loved one on the back when you walk by. Pet them back, rub their heads and let them know that you love them too. This is a communication tool for your dog, so communicate back to them.A dog who is licking because of stress needs reassurance even more. The simple fact is they are probably afraid that you, the alpha in the group, are disappointed with them or are going to do something they don’t like. Rub their heads, coo at them, and use your sweet doggy voice.Regardless of why, keep in mind that your dog is trying to communicate with you. If you love your dog, it’s worth, at least at first, meeting them where they are and communicate back to them, and slowly move towards different means of communicating besides licking.

Distract and Redirect

Put that powerful nose of theirs to good use! If your dog is chasing you down after a jog trying to lap up your salty sweat, consider giving them a salty chew toy or treat with peanut butter.Giving your dog a plush toy or blanket to carry around with them and love on is another good way to distract your dog from taking out all of its love on your legs.If your dog just seems to like licking as an activity, try this licking pad on Amazon to save yourself and your house from a constant tonguing. You just smear a little peanut butter or even regular dog food on the pad and let your dog lick away.

7. Releases Endorphins

When dogs lick, they experience a “feel good” sensation. Their brains produce and release a hormone known as endorphins that gives them a feeling of pleasure and comfort. Similarly, our brains release the same chemical, a feeling of euphoria, after we have an intense workout. Next time when Maya licks, maybe she is feeling blissful.

6. Grooming You

Did you just finish taking a shower? Sometimes your pooch will groom you, by licking your legs, so you are clean and dry. Canines lick to clean themselves so it’s part of their instinct. Since you are her hooman, she has a sense of duty to clean you off.

5. Food Crumbs

Look, your precious furball probably smells kibbles from a mile away. It can be simple food crumbs that we may not notice are on our legs and Maya, with her adorable snout, smells it, therefore she licks. “Mmm..dis iz soo tasties!”

4. You’re Needed For Something

She might be trying to tell you that you are needed or wanted for something. As mentioned earlier, licking is just another way dogs communicate, so to get their points across they lick, or even sometimes paw at you. Maya might be signaling she’s hungry or needs to potty. Usually, if her request is not met, it’ll most likely be followed by sporadic whimpering or those insanely cute puppy-dog eyes that we can not resist. “Can u gib me chimken pweez?”

3. Like The Taste

Another reason can possibly be Maya loving how you taste. Did you just finish working out or perhaps is sweating? Our body produces sweat and oil that are quite salty. Your dog probably loves the taste, thus licks your legs. “Wuv salty taste!”

2. To Get Your Attention

Sometimes, dogs lick your legs because they know by doing so, they will gain a reaction from you. You might pet your dog, interact with her, give her a treat, or simply laugh. All these reactions not only gives her a reason to do it again but also encourages her to do so. This process is actually a form of training known as classical conditioning. Dogs learn to associate their licking to your response and as a result, this behavior is formed.

1. Affection

Simply put, your fluffy furball is most likely licking your leg because she loves you! She’s basically giving you dog “kisses”. Your leg is probably the only available patch of skin she is able to interact with at that very moment. If she’s able to lick your face, she will definitely do it. Dogs are some of the most loyal animals out there and their love is truly unconditional. “Wuv you, hooman!”

Should You Allow This Behavior?

This licking behavior is relatively harmless. However, if you have an open wound, you should refrain from letting Maya lick you because her saliva does contain bacteria. Though very rare, it can cost infections in humans with weakened immune systems. It is better to be safe than sorry.On the flip side, if you are not germaphobic or have no open wounds, licking, as mentioned earlier, doesn’t cause harm. Just make sure that you don’t have any cream or ointments applied to the area where it is being licked, as they may contain ingredients that could be harmful to the pup.In the end, whether to allow it or not comes down to personal preference. If you do choose to stop this behavior, don’t worry, we have some helpful tips on how to do so.