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Dogs are silly creatures and they have their own unique personalities and quicks. They even have their own reason for exhibiting certain behaviors such as circling before they poop or barking for no reason.
Picture this… You’ve had a hard day and all you want to do is sit down and relax and have a moment to yourself. Just as you sit and get comfortable you hear a thud and feel the weight of your dog drop down on your feet.
Does this sound familiar? If you have a dog chances are you’ve experienced this.
But why do dogs sit on your feet?
Is your dog distressed, or trying to show affection or could it be a sign of dominance? If you ask 10 people you’ll probably get 10 different answers.
And how does this ritual make you feel? Are you tired of tripping over your dog every time you get up? Or do you find it endearing that your dog wants to be with you every minute?
Maybe how you feel depends on why your dog sits on your feet so let’s explore some possible reasons.
Why Do Dogs Sit On Your Feet?
Dogs are social creatures and even if your pup has never spent time in the wild, he still has a pack mentality. The reason why your dog sits on your feet could simply be part of their DNA.
Here are some other explanations:
Your Dog is Seeking Comfort
Just like humans, dogs love to be close to the people they love.
Your dog may also love sleeping on your feet because they feel vulnerable when they sleep and being close to you makes them feels safe.
Your presence is comforting and reassuring to your dog which makes it easy for them to fall asleep on your feet. And your dog might be trying to show you a little love too.
Dogs have a strong desire to provide comfort and are able to sense when you’re feeling sad or ill. They might be sitting on your feet to offer comfort and support to you. Dogs are amazing at understanding human emotion.
Your Dog Might Be Nervous or Anxious
If your dog is nervous or anxious or even scared he might be sitting on your feet to feel safe. This could be a routine behavior for your dog but if not, what’s changed?
If your dog doesn’t always sit on your feet, has anything changed in your house?
Even the simple act of rearranging furniture could cause a stress response from your dog. So take a look around. Are there sudden loud noises, strangers nearby, other dogs, or have people been coming and going that don’t usually?
Any of these changes could cause anxiety and stress for your dog and their reaction will likely be to get as close to you as possible for protection and safety.
It may not take much to make a usually confident dog nervous or anxious.
Pay attention to your dogs body language at these moments. Is his body tense or does he have his ears pressed back? Is his head down or his tail tucked? Any of these body language signs could be indications that your dog is feeling afraid and could explain his out-of-character desire to sit on your feet.
Your Dog Is Seeking Warmth
Staying warm is a basic need for dogs, not much different from humans. Dogs have a natural instinct to snuggle not only because of their desire for affection and attention, but also to stay warm.
This behavior is learned early as puppies snuggling with their sibblings and their dog mom.
Does Your Dog Suffer From Separation Anxiety
Is your dog the type of dog that always wants to be with you or touch you?
Is it impossible to leave a room without your dog following right at your heels?
Are you having problems leaving your dog alone at home for any period of time and terrified thinking about what awaits you when you return?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, your dog might be suffering from separation anxiety which could be the cause of his need to sit or lay on your feet.
Your Dog Is Protecting You or Resource Guarding
Your dog might see you as his prize and if your dog senses a threat or challenge for your attention he may hustle over to sit on your feet. He’s showing the intruder that you’re spoken for.
If you’re out in public with other dogs around and your dog suddenly lays on your feet he is claiming you. Think “marking his territory”. He is going to make sure that every other dog around knows that you are his human and they should back off.
My dog, Frisbee made sure his little fur sister, Macie knew that when he was having a moment with me, she was not invited.
Dogs are also very intuitive and protective by nature. Your dog could be sitting on your feet and staying close to you in his effort to protect you.
Is It a Sign of Dominance
This is a grey area amongst dog professionals. Dominance is a behavior typically shown towards other dogs and relates to their pack instincts.
Sitting on your feet probably isn’t your dog’s way of showing you that they’re the boss. If your dog is truly trying to dominate you they are more likely to lay across your lap instead of in a more submissive position on the floor at your feet.
If your dog isn’t showing any other signs of dominant behavior it is unlikely his sitting at your feet is for this purpose.
What Message Was My Dog Sending?
My handsome dog, Frisbee liked to sit on my feet. I never understood why at the time but I can’t say I wasn’t enjoying it. I loved having him close to me and while I would have preferred that he lay next to me on the couch, I didn’t mind him laying on my feet.
My challenge was the Frisbee suffered from fear aggression and wasn’t a particularly affectionate dog. By that I mean he’s loving but I wouldn’t call him a lap dog by any means.
But every once in a while he would just flop down on top of me in bed. Either across my stomach or sometimes right on my head. This was usually preceded by him sitting up next to me and just staring down at me.
Each time he did this it made me uncomfortable. It was unusual behavior for him and I was very observant of his behavior due to his fear aggression issues.
Here are some pictures of Frisbee (and I apologize they aren’t great but it was difficult to take them at the time) possibly trying to dominate me or could have just been resource guarding with me being the “resource”.
While this might look normal to most people, his dominance of me here and/or protection led to him going after our little Shih Tzu when she entered this room and even growling at my husband, who he loves dearly, when he walked into the room.
We ended up not being able to allow him in this room while I was meditating or reading my bible because, for some reason, which we never could figure out, this area made him feel he had to possess me.
While this isn’t exactly the same as sitting on your feet I wanted to share this story to demonstrate better when a dog might be displaying dominant behavior.
If you want to read Frisbees’ entire story of fear aggression, his bite history and the personal hell we went through you can click here to check it out.
So, why do dogs sit on your feet?
As you can see, there are many different reasons but the common theme is that your dog just loves you and wants to be close to you.
When Should This Behavior Concern You?
- First, if this behavior is bothering you, try to figure out what is causing the behavior.
- If your dog is hungry for your attention, you might want to try spending some additional time with them. If you aren’t able to spend more time with your dog try entertaining him with a puzzle toy like this available on Amazon.
- If your dog is overly attached to you, try building your dog’s confidence with some obedience and trick training. Dogs love training sessions with their humans and not only do they get to learn new things, but they will also be building confidence. As an added bonus, your bond with your pooch will grow during these training sessions. If you want some amazing ideas for some fun training check out Brain Training for Dogs. I highly recommend this online dog training which includes about everything dog behavior related.
Similar questions surrounding this topic are why do dogs sit at your feet in the bathroom or why does my dog sit at my feet with his back to me? The answers depend on your dog and your relationship with your dog but likely one of the reasons above will apply.
I hope you got value from this post. If you have a fun story to tell or want to leave a comment please do so. We love hearing from you.
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