If your dog licks your hands and feet a lot, this post will show you a number of likely reasons why and what you can do about them.
So, why does my dog lick my hands and feet? Likely reasons why your dog licks your hands and feet are that your dog wants extra attention, it has learned that the behavior is rewarded, it likes the taste and that it is showing you affection.
There are actually a number of possible reasons why your dog licks your hands and feet and it could be due to a combination of reasons. However, there are a number of things you can consider to help figure out the main cause and there are some things you can do about it.
Why does my dog lick my hands and feet?
Below are likely causes and what would make them more likely.
It wants attention
The cause might be that it is looking for attention. This would be more likely if it does it more when you have not been giving it much attention and if you tend to give it more attention when it does it.
Instead, it would help to give it attention throughout the day by playing with it, training it and exercising it but to avoid rewarding it with attention when your dog licks your hands and feet by redirecting its behavior when it starts.
Rewarding the behavior
It is also likely that your dog has learned that licking your hands and feet results in it getting rewards. If you tend to give your dog things such as toys, treats, or extra attention, when it licks your hands and feet, it will likely do it more in order to get more rewards. Instead, it would help to reward your dog when it behaves the way you want it but to stop giving your dog attention as soon as it starts licking you.
Your dog likes the taste
Another possible cause is that your dog likes the way your feet and hands taste. This would be more likely if your dog tends to lick them more at a certain time such as after you have been cooking or right after you take your socks off.
A part of the cause could also be that your dog is bored and looking for a way to stimulate itself. This would be more likely if your dog does not lick you as much after it has gotten exercise. In this case, it would help to make sure that your dog is able to get the daily amount of recommended exercise for its age and breed.
When dogs are young, one of the first ways that they will explore the world is by licking and sniffing things. If your dog is a puppy then it is likely to be the case that it is exploring when your dog is licking your hands. The habit of licking things will stay with it as it gets older which is why they will naturally lick quite often.
The reason why your dog licks your hands and feet could be that it is excited. This would be more likely if it tends to do it in situations where it gets very excited such as when you come home or when it is going out for a walk.
In this case, it would help to avoid doing the thing that it gets excited about and to wait for it to stop licking your hands before continuing.
It might also be the case that it does it because it is being affectionate. When it’s licking you it’s letting you know that it trusts you and that you are a part of its tribe. This type of licking is normal and will often happen when you try to pet it.
Dogs will often groom themselves by licking. They will also groom others such as when a mother dogs licks her puppies. This is could be why your dog has been licking your hands and feet. This would be more likely if it tries to lick you when you are not petting it.
Things to consider
Below are some things to consider to help figure out the main reason why your dog has been doing it.
If your dog always licked your hands and feet
If your dog did not always lick you, it would help to consider what else happened when your dog first started doing it. If your dog started doing it suddenly, it could be due to things such as you giving it less attention than normal, it learned that the behavior is rewarded or something causing it to be anxious.
What is different when your dog does not lick your hands and feet
If your dog tends to lick you in certain situations, it would also help to consider what else is different when your dog does it. For example, if your dog tends to do it more when you arrive home, the cause would be more likely to be due to excitement and separation anxiety.
What to do about my dog licking my hands and feet?
Below are some options you have when dealing with the behavior.
Avoid encouraging it
As mentioned above, it might be the case that your dog has learned that the behavior is rewarded. Instead, it would help to reward your dog when it behaves the way you want it to and to stop giving your dog attention as soon as it starts licking you. By doing so, your dog should learn that licking you results in you not giving it attention.
Give it distractions
In addition to the above, you could also try giving it things to be distracted by such as bones or toys so that it is less likely to start licking your hands and feet.
Redirect its focus
It would also help to redirect your dog’s focus when it seems likely to start licking you by getting it to do something such as sit or to give it a toy to play with.