If your Golden Retriever has a habit of licking your feet you might be wondering why and what you can do about it. In this post, I will show you common causes and what you can do to get it to stop.
So, why does my Golden Retriever lick my feet? Possible reasons are that it wants attention, thinks that it is grooming you, is being affectionate, is doing it compulsively or it could be the case that you have inadvertently rewarded the behavior.
There are actually multiple reasons why your Golden Retriever might be doing it. However, there are some things you can consider when figuring out the main reason and there are a number of things you can do about it.
Why your Golden Retriever licks your feet
Below are some common reasons why Golden Retriever lick their owner’s feet and what would make them more likely to be the reason why yours has been doing it.
It wants attention
The reason why it does it might be that it knows that it result in it getting attention and a reaction from you. 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 it licks your feet by redirecting its behavior when it starts.
It is grooming you
Golden Retrievers will often groom themselves by licking. They will also groom others such as when a mother Golden Retriever licks her puppies. This is could be why your Golden Retriever has been licking your feet.
It’s being affectionate
The reason could also be that it is showing affection. 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.
It is exploring
When Golden Retrievers are young one of the first ways that they will explore the world is by licking and sniffing things. If your Golden Retriever is a puppy then it is likely to be the case that it is exploring when it is liking your feet. The habit of licking things will stay with it as it gets older which is why they will naturally lick quite often.
It might also be the case that it has been doing it due to a compulsive behavior. This is where your Golden Retriever has an urge to lick things and it cannot stop itself from doing it. This would be more likely to be the reason if your Golden Retriever does it excessively and it has been doing it for more than a few weeks.
If it seems like it might be doing it obsessively the best option would be to seek the guidance of a local vet.
Encouraging the behavior
A part of the cause could also be that you have encouraged it to do it by giving it rewards when it does it. If you tend to give it things such as toys, treats or extra attention, when it licks your feet, it will likely do it more in order to get more rewards.
Instead of giving it rewards when it licks your feet, try to recognize when it is likely to start doing it and to redirect its focus on to something else.
Things to consider
Below are some things to consider when figuring out the main causes.
How often it does it
It would help to consider how often your Golden Retriever has been licking your feet.
If it has been licking your feet constantly then it would be more likely to be compulsive behavior and something you’ll want to get help on from a vet or dog behaviorist.
When it started doing it
If it did not always lick your feet, it would also help to consider what else happened when it first started doing it.
If your Golden Retriever started doing it suddenly it would make it more likely that it started doing it because you inadvertently rewarded it, you stopped giving it as much attention or possibly because something caused it to start being anxious. It would help to consider what else happened when it started.
When it does it
It would also help to consider if there is a certain time that it tends to do it.
For example, if it seems to start licking your feet more just before you leave home it could be the case that it is doing it due to separation anxiety.
Whereas, if it does it at random times it would make it more likely to be natural behavior or that it does it because it’s learned it gets rewards.
How to get your Golden Retriever to stop licking your feet
Below are some things you can do in order to get your Golden Retriever to stop licking your feet.
Don’t reward it
As mentioned above, it might be the case that you have encouraged the behavior by giving it rewards when it does it. Instead of rewarding your Golden Retriever when it does it, try to redirect its focus onto something else such as a bone before it starts doing it.
Reward it for not licking your feet
Another option would be to reward it when it does not lick your feet but it normally would. By doing so you will be able to reinforce the behavior that you want.
Give it exercise
Golden Retrievers are meant to get a lot of daily exercise. When they do not get enough exercise they will often look for ways to stimulate themselves and it might be a part of the reason why yours has been licking you. Generally, it is recommended for them to get an hour of exercise per day as healthy adults.
Take it to a vet
If you cannot figure out why your Golden Retriever has been doing it or it has been doing it excessively the best option would be to take it to a vet. By doing so you will be able to get expert advice tailored towards your particular Golden Retriever and to rule out medical causes.
Another option would be to get help from a dog behaviorist. By doing so, you should be able to see what has been causing it to lick you and how to get it to stop effectively.
Give it distractions
In addition to the above, you could also give it things to be distracted with so that it is less likely to want to lick your feet. Things you could give it would include toys, bones or puzzle games.