Dogs are the friendliest pets and share a strong bond with their owner. If you own a dog, you might have experienced your dog refusing to leave your side, laying by your feet, and even pawing at you.
These cute behaviors are indeed adorable, but there are specific reasons behind their actions. So why do dogs lay on your feet? Keep scrolling to find out.
- 1 Why do Dogs Lay on Your Feet? 8 Reasons
- 2 Should This Behaviour Be Allowed?
- 3 Reinforcement Learning
- 4 Sleeping Positions
- 5 What If Your Dog Doesn’t Lie On Your Feet?
- 6 Final Thoughts
Why do Dogs Lay on Your Feet? 8 Reasons
1. Natural Instincts
Dogs are pack animals, and this behavior is rooted in their genes. Even if dogs have never lived in the wild, they can still exhibit their canine instincts. When living in a pack, dogs hunt and survive together. The pack leader has the most authority and will choose the most comfortable area to sleep in while the remaining pack huddles around the leader.
Your dog sees you as the natural pack leader, and laying at your feet is the same as them huddling around an alpha in the wild. Once you are comfortably seated, your dog will lay on your feet as a sign of respect and devotion.
2. Seeking Attention
Besides being adorable, our fluffy companions are great observers and fast learners. Your dog might lie on your feet as they have learned that doing this will get their owner’s attention.
While it’s normal to greet your pet or cuddle them when they approach, giving your dog ear and belly rubs when they lay on your feet teaches them how to get your physical attention.
3. Protecting The Pack
Dogs look towards their owner for protection. Likewise, they sometimes feel the urge to protect their pack from harm. They lay on your feet to protect you from danger and put themselves in harm’s way. If there’s no danger around, your dog will still lay near the feet with the intention of protecting the alpha.
When you are out in public, your dog will have heightened protective instincts and sit on or near your feet. This is your dog’s way of letting other dogs know they must stay away. It’s okay if your dog exhibit’s this behavior without aggression.
Some dogs share a bond too strong that they can’t bear other pets coming near to their owner and might become aggressive to warn them off. Such behavior should always be discouraged. It’s best to check in with a trainer if they exhibit aggressive behavior when protecting their territory.
Similar to your dog feeling obligated to protect you, they can also lay on your feet to seek protection. It’s a natural instinct for dogs to lean towards their owner for protection when in an unfamiliar environment or a situation. Your dog will depend on you and lay on your feet whenever they feel threatened.
4. Exhibiting Dominance
The first time you meet a dog, it might instantly jump on your lap. There are two reasons behind this attachment. Either the dog is happy to bond with you or wants to assert dominance and let everybody know they are in charge.
Sitting on the lap makes the dog feel higher and gives them an assurance that they are in control. While this behavior is standard when a new pet is introduced to other pets in a household, dogs can also practice this behavior on humans. It might not be clear whether they are showing dominance or just happy to sit on your lap.
In a situation like this, observe your dog’s overall behavior and consult your veterinarian if you see any red flags like food guarding, aggressive response to verbal commands, or sitting in high places while looking down on other pets.
5. Exhibiting Affection
Putting behavioral instincts aside, your dog might sit on your feet only because they adore and admire you. They want to be near you and show their affection. Owners mean the world to a dog and will always try to exhibit their love in various ways.
Pets, especially dogs, share a strong bond and perceive how we feel. They easily sense stress or anxiety and may lay on your feet to show their support. This behavior confirms you are doing well as a pet owner, and your dog is simply thankful for the love and care you provide them with.
6. Seeking A Warm Place
During the winter season, your furry companions might feel cold and want to cuddle with you to get warm. When living in a pack, dogs huddle together, providing each other warmth during colder seasons. Your dog will replicate the exact behavior of laying and sleeping on your feet to seek warmth.
7. Sharing A Strong Bond
Dogs become intertwined with their owners over time as their connection fosters. Dogs exhibit a secure base effect where they follow their owner, just like a baby would cling to their mother. Your dog might seek your comfort and can opt to lay on your feet to know your whereabouts.
They instantly know when you leave the premises by resting on your feet. Knowing their companion is next to them gives dogs a feeling of security and comfort.
8. Showing Anxiety
There are certain situations when your dog might feel like sitting by your feet or on them because they sense fear or are anxious. If your dog doesn’t always sit on your feet and suddenly starts exhibiting this behavior, it points to your dog feeling anxiety.
Here are the signs you should look for:
- The dog pants and drools extensively.
- The tail points toward the ground or is tucked underneath their legs.
- The head position is lowered.
- Pulled back ears.
Should This Behaviour Be Allowed?
Generally, this habit is not something you should be concerned about. Most pet owners like their pets coming close to them and showing affection. In return, dogs get pat downs and belly rubs. However, if you notice signs of aggression in your dog, this behavior must be discouraged.
This protocol can assist pet owners in improving their dog’s behavior. This method rewards and praises the dog for the positive behavior they exhibit. For example, if the dog follows a command, give them a quick snack or reward so they feel appreciated and know this behavior leads to fruitful outcomes.
Likewise, don’t encourage your dog when you see negative behavior. A crucial thing to remember is never to reward the dog or practice reinforcement learning protocols when your dog is exhibiting aggressiveness. If you are not following reinforcement learning, you might have to start from scratch and slowly work on improving their behavior.
The way you treat your dog matters the most. Ensure you appreciate the good behavior and discourage your dog when you see aggressiveness. Avoid hitting or kicking your dog if its habit of laying on your feet increases daily. Instead, contact a certified trainer, as you might need professional assistance besides practicing reinforcement learning.
Avoid petting them when they show aggressive behavior while lying on your feet. Patting them will show your dog that what they are doing is right. Whenever you see them trying to lie on your feet, motivate them to move to their sleeping place. You can place their bed near so it becomes easier for you to encourage the dog to sleep on their bed rather than resting on your feet.
Now that we’ve covered the possible reasons behind your dog laying near or on your feet let’s dig into some sleeping positions so you can better judge their body language to evaluate their aggressiveness and overall personality.
- The curled ball position can be seen throughout a pup’s life. They curl up with their legs and tail beneath their body. They seek warmth and feel protected in this position.
- Dogs sleeping on their back means they are calm, feel safe, and are comfortable in their surroundings. The dog’s submissive position shows they are carefree.
- Side sleeping is exhibited by dogs when their owner is around. They show their trust when sleeping sideways.
- In the passed-out position, the dog will be lying on their back with its legs on its chest. This position shows the dog is exhausted and doesn’t want to be bothered.
- Dogs sleep in a belly curl position when they are stressed out physically and can’t get enough rest.
When your dog is agitated, it may lose its hours of sleep and may seem irritated throughout its usual routine.
What If Your Dog Doesn’t Lie On Your Feet?
Similar to humans, dogs have different personality traits, which are further shaped by their surroundings as they grow up. While some dogs crave a belly rub all the time, some dogs don’t want their owner to touch them too often and prefer sitting by your side instead of lying on their feet.
Your dog will still be enjoying your company without you showing love or cuddling them. Still, your dog will show affection in other ways when they don’t prefer too much cuddling. For example, they might present you with their favorite toy or follow your trail wherever you go. In a nutshell, it’s okay if your dog doesn’t sit on your feet.
A pet owner has a responsibility to provide their dog with the required care, affection, and love. It is perfectly normal for your dog to lay on your feet, beside you, or follow you all the time.
However, you should be concerned if you notice signs of aggressive behavior toward strangers or other pets. If they become aggressive, it’s best to visit a professional trainer and discuss the possible reasons for their behavior. They will advise you on training sessions to resolve the issue.
This aggressiveness can be due to a medical condition or an injury you are unfamiliar with. Visiting the veterinarian regularly can assist in providing the best care for your canine companion and ensuring their good health.
Whether your dog likes to sit beside you or always follows you, each pup has a unique personality that should be cherished and enjoyed. We hope the information presented here can help you better understand the reasons dogs lay on your feet and the actions you can take to resolve this situation if it begins to negatively affect your relationship with your pet.
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