Train the dog or train the human?
January 23, 2021 12:03 PM   Subscribe

Friend's boyfriend's dog regularly licks her feet. She doesn't like it.

Boyfriend is working on convincing girlfriend to be open to his dog licking her feet. He says things like, "You shouldn't let it bother you because dogs have less germs in their mouths than humans do." I'm curious as to which would be easier: 1)Teach the human to be open to the licking 2)Train the dog to not lick feet
posted by SageTrail to Pets & Animals (24 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Training a dog not to lick is both easier and more ethical than persuading a human to not mind being licked. No question about it, because one involves training and the other involves persuasion and pressuring.
posted by theory at 12:07 PM on January 23 [37 favorites]


The dog can be trained out of this. The boyfriend should yell NO, and she can help by smearing something on her feet. There's any number of lotions or sprays that would dissuade a dog.

It's gross to pressure someone to just put up with having her feet licked. Ugh.
posted by fingersandtoes at 12:08 PM on January 23 [15 favorites]


Does the dog still lick sock-enrobed feet? If so, I'm thinking something like capsicum-infused socks, which definitely seems like the simpler option.

(Assuming that capsicum is safe for dogs, who I don't know anything about; otherwise, whatever the opposite of catnip is for dogs. On non-preview, if there are specially-made lotions and sprays for this sort of thing already, that would seem to be the way to go.)
posted by XMLicious at 12:10 PM on January 23


Ugh, no, the dog. I'm grossed out just by the premise of trying to get over it. It's not the germs, it's the slimy texture and warm wetness and the sheer enthusiasm of most dogs. People have a right to not be licked. There are literally infinite things the dog could lick that aren't the girlfriend's feet.
posted by teremala at 12:11 PM on January 23 [25 favorites]


I love dogs, and I do not allow my dog to lick me, to his disappointment. No matter that a dog's mouth is less germy than a human's; it's still a lot of germs. It's her body and a guy who tries to tell her that it's not okay for her to decide what happens to her body is wrongity-wrong-wrong-wrong. I think BF has boundary issues. GF should be able to discipline the dog; GF & Dog will both be happier that way. I am riled on GF's behalf.
posted by theora55 at 12:14 PM on January 23 [30 favorites]


Boyfriend is working on convincing girlfriend to be open to his dog licking her feet.

All hands, prepare to abandon ship.
posted by mhoye at 12:27 PM on January 23 [63 favorites]


A firm no and a squirt of water from a spray bottle should do the trick. GF should be fine to do this on her own. If the BF complains, then the BF is the issue.

Honestly, whenever someone has a "bad/annoying dog complaint" it's 95% of the time really a "bad/annoying pet owner" complaint.
posted by brookeb at 12:28 PM on January 23 [9 favorites]


Train the dog not to lick, and teach the boyfriend about bodily autonomy.

Sheesh.

I am ok with all kinds of bad dog behavior (licking, jumping up, etc.) but you still teach your dog not to do those things so they're not obnoxious oafs. You do not tell other people to just put up with your obnoxious oaf because he is adorable (he is, that's not the point tho).
posted by the primroses were over at 12:30 PM on January 23 [17 favorites]


As a dog owner, I am really irritated by people who don't train their dogs.

I am a million times more irritated by people who don't train their dogs and then tell other people "You shouldn't let it bother you.."

Like if this guy had a child with a toe-licking habit, would he be telling his girlfriend to get over it, or would he be TRAINING HIS KID TO NOT LICK TOES WITHOUT CONSENT?

I know dogs are not people, but that doesn't mean they get a pass to molest people. Ugh.
posted by RobinofFrocksley at 12:30 PM on January 23 [19 favorites]


Agreeing with the above. Girlfriend should get a squirt bottle and use it to train the boyfriend to understand that he doesn't get to dictate what happens to other people's bodies. Full stop.

This would be a red flag for me because I would be wondering what else he feels he has the authority to convince her to do without her consent and against her wishes.
posted by fight or flight at 1:08 PM on January 23 [27 favorites]


My personal solution would be to train the girlfriend to look for a better man to be with-- one that respects her more than a dog.

And I'm a lifetime dog owner who likes dogs more than people, but this just... no.
posted by seasparrow at 1:36 PM on January 23 [14 favorites]


The dog is almost certainly easier to train than the boyfriend.
Consider rehoming the boyfriend.
posted by Omnomnom at 1:41 PM on January 23 [47 favorites]


Like way worse than the locking itself is the boyfriend not respecting his girlfriend's request about her body. I don't think it's an overreaction to see that as a red flag.
posted by augustimagination at 1:51 PM on January 23 [8 favorites]


dogs have less germs in their mouths than humans do.

All other things aside, this is unequivocally false. It's one of those "facts" that someone made up on the internet once and it somehow caught on, but it has absolutely no basis in truth. Here's a link to one of many extraordinarily easily googleable references.
posted by brainmouse at 2:23 PM on January 23 [8 favorites]


Who gives a fuck about the GERMS anyway? I wouldn't want someone randomly swiping at my feet with a wet sponge either.
posted by showbiz_liz at 3:48 PM on January 23 [14 favorites]


This is not a question for a random assortment of people on a website. Unless a professional dog trainer can explain why the dog is lickng your feet and how to train him not to do so, I can not recommend training. One thing I know for certain about most dog owners is that they do not know dogs nearly as well as they should. Consult an expert.
posted by y2karl at 4:22 PM on January 23 [3 favorites]


I'm quite germophobic, but when a family member's dog would lick my toes it was actually the slimey wetness which bothered me, not the germs.

Your friend's feelings are valid and should be respected. If the boyfriend doesn't respect her about this, she should pay close attention to how he is about other matters.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 4:40 PM on January 23


This is not a question for a random assortment of people on a website. Unless a professional dog trainer can explain why the dog is lickng your feet and how to train him not to do so, I can not recommend training. One thing I know for certain about most dog owners is that they do not know dogs nearly as well as they should. Consult an expert.

Tend to agree, particularly if the dog is older or has been doing this for a while. I also dislike it when dogs aren't well-trained, but punishment can cause other unwanted behaviors, anxiety, etc. It's better to avoid it if possible. Nor do I think "just put up with it" is a great answer, although depending how much it bothers the girlfriend and how old the dog is, validation of her feelings "I know it's gross, I'm really sorry" and her putting up with it in very limited doses when unavoidable is a reasonable solution. Perhaps girlfriend can wear socks if she's comfortable with that and/or the dog can be crated or in a separate part of the house when she's over and then if it happens a couple of times a month that's not a huge deal.

I personally do not think the same consent issues apply when you're dealing with a dog and unwanted touching that would apply if you were dealing with a person. That is because it is a dog. While I agree that dog licking can be disgusting and unpleasant, I also would encourage a sort of fatalistic "it's a dog" attitude if one can be easily generated.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 5:38 PM on January 23


Train the 'boyfriend' to place needs of a human partner above desires of dogs. Use a squirt bottle if necessary. Or leave the house/relationship as appropriate, to avoid unwanted tongue.
posted by SaltySalticid at 6:13 PM on January 23 [1 favorite]


>Boyfriend is working on convincing girlfriend to be open to his dog licking her feet.

This sounds fetish-y in that creepy, nonconsensual way that makes it impossible for me to treat it as the hypothetical question it has been presented as.

The answer to the question of training, for me, would be "train the girlfriend to run the hell away from dudes like this".
posted by WaywardPlane at 7:54 PM on January 23 [9 favorites]


Don't yell at the dog. Don't squirt the dog in the face.

Do use positive dog training techniques to reward not-feet-licking, and train the dog to go to it's place/rug/bed/crate when girlfriend is around.
posted by See you tomorrow, saguaro at 6:37 PM on January 24 [1 favorite]


It should be easy to train the dog not to do this if you're consistent. I've got two dogs that love to lick me and I indulge them sometimes, when I get tired of it I tell them to stop, which they do.

"You shouldn't let it bother you because dogs have less germs in their mouths than humans do."

This is extremely stupid. The problem here is not a dog problem, it is a human relationship problem.
posted by counterfeitfake at 7:15 PM on January 24 [1 favorite]


Do use positive dog training techniques to reward not-feet-licking, and train the dog to go to it's place/rug/bed/crate when girlfriend is around.

Yes, precisely. You really want to avoid associating negative, frightening stimuli with a specific human being. It can lead to a lot of negatives like stress peeing or even aggression.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 7:43 PM on January 24 [1 favorite]


I trained a dog to stop licking me by just pulling my limb away and saying Hey! No licking! I only had to do it twice.

I've never successfully trained a boyfriend to treat me kindly and with respect when they haven't been, and I wasted a good number of my 20s trying.
posted by Dynex at 11:39 PM on January 24 [10 favorites]


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