Why Does My Dog Lick My Baby’s Hands and Feet?

Dogs are known for their affectionate nature and their propensity for licking, but when they start licking a baby’s hands and feet, it can leave many parents wondering about the reasons behind this behavior. 

While it may seem unusual or even concerning at first, there are several possible explanations for why dogs engage in this behavior. 

In this article, we will explore some of the common reasons why dogs lick babies’ hands and feet and shed light on the significance behind this action.

Canine Instincts and Pack Mentality

Dogs are social animals with a strong pack mentality. They have evolved to establish and maintain social bonds, and licking is one of the ways they communicate and show affection within their pack. 

When a dog licks a baby’s hands and feet, it may be an instinctual behavior driven by their desire to bond with and care for the youngest member of their pack. 

The dog might perceive the baby’s hands and feet as an accessible and safe way to express affection.

Taste and Smell

Another reason why dogs lick babies’ hands and feet is due to the taste and smell of these body parts. Human skin contains traces of salt, which can be quite appealing to dogs. 

Additionally, babies often have residual food particles or milk residue on their hands and feet, which can be enticing to a dog’s heightened sense of smell. 

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By licking, dogs are exploring and investigating these scents, much like they would when encountering new objects or individuals.

Grooming Instincts

Licking is an essential part of a dog’s grooming behavior. Dogs often lick themselves and other pack members as a means of cleaning and maintaining hygiene. 

When a dog licks a baby’s hands and feet, it might be trying to groom and care for the baby, considering them as part of their pack. This behavior can be seen as a display of protection and nurturing instincts that dogs naturally possess.

Display of Submission

Licking can also be a sign of submission in dog behavior. When a dog licks a baby’s hands and feet, it may be an attempt to show deference and acknowledge the baby as a higher-ranking member of the family hierarchy. 

Dogs are highly attuned to social cues, and they may use licking as a way to demonstrate respect and to establish a harmonious relationship with the baby.

Seeking Attention and Affection

Dogs are known to be highly social animals that crave attention and affection from their human companions. Licking can be a way for dogs to seek interaction and closeness with the baby. 

When a dog licks a baby’s hands and feet, it may be trying to initiate playtime or engage in an affectionate interaction. 

Dogs often perceive licking as a form of communication and a way to elicit a response from their human family members.

Stress Relief and Soothing

Licking can also serve as a self-soothing mechanism for dogs. Just like humans might engage in behaviors like nail-biting or hair-twirling when they feel anxious or stressed, dogs may lick as a way to alleviate their own stress or anxiety. 

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If the baby’s presence or certain situations cause the dog to feel uneasy, they might resort to licking as a coping mechanism to calm themselves down.


When a dog licks a baby’s hands and feet, it is essential to assess the context and observe the overall behavior to determine if it is within a healthy and safe range. 

While there are several plausible explanations for this behavior, it is crucial to ensure that the dog’s actions are not intrusive or causing any discomfort to the baby. 

Supervision and careful monitoring should be exercised to ensure the well-being of both the dog and the baby. 

If the licking becomes excessive or the dog shows signs of discomfort or distress, it is advisable to consult with a veterinarian or a professional dog trainer. 

They can provide guidance on managing the behavior and offer specific strategies to create a harmonious environment for both the dog and the baby. Remember, each dog is unique, and their motivations for licking babies’ hands and feet can vary. 

With proper attention, training, and supervision, dogs and babies can develop a loving and safe relationship, where licking can be seen as a natural and harmless form of communication and bonding.