Why Do Dogs Lay, Sit, & Sleep on your Feet?

Whether you have stopped your walk to take a quick break on a park bench or you're lounging around watching television on your favorite couch, your dog is probably right there with you. Most dogs choose to sit on their owner's feet.

If you don't get up to move, they'll eventually transition to laying and sleeping on your feet.
dog laying on girls feet in bed

While this behavior isn't particularly bad, it can be a bit annoying for some owners. This is especially true if you have given your dog a nice expensive bed and they choose to lay on the floor by your feet instead.

Whether you love it or you hate it, it's good to understand why your canine companion does it.

Canine Instincts

Dogs are pack creatures. Even if your spoiled pup has never spent a moment out in the wild, they still have those behaviors ingrained in them. Many times, the act of sitting on your feet is simply remnants of their ancestral DNA.

In the wild, dogs travel in packs. They do this to keep themselves protected and to work together to survive. When they're sleeping or resting, they huddle together. The leader of the pack gets the most comfortable spot while the other dogs lay close to stay warm.

In your home, you are the pack leader.

Young dogs also learn a bit about pack mentality at a very young age. Newborn canines learn to sleep near the tail of their mothers. This is to avoid being crushed should the mother roll over in her sleep. If you have a young puppy, they may still exhibit this behavior because it's all they know.

Safety

As the pack leader for your household, you wear many hats in the eyes of your dog. One of the biggest roles you'll play is the protector. If your pup is feeling a bit insecure about something, they'll go to you for protection.

This happens a lot with more submissive dogs. However, even the largest and most intimidating breed will go to their owner if they feel unsafe.

Dogs can start to get anxious because of new people, loud sounds, and anything else they're not used to. They'll sit or lay at your feet to get some comfort. Sometimes, all it takes is your touch to make your dog feel safe.

If your dog falls asleep on your feet, pay attention to how their sleeping. If they're sleeping on their side, with your feet tucked warmly underneath, they feel completely protected. This position exposes their belly, which is a big risk in the wild. By laying on their side, they're showing you that they trust you to keep them safe.

Protection

On the other side of things, your dog may sit on your feet to keep you protected from a perceived threat. They want to prevent you from experiencing any harm, so they'll put themselves between you and the threat.

Most of the time, there's no real danger present. However, that won't stop your dog from providing you with the protection they think you need.

Territorial Claims

dog sitting with owner in park

Has your dog ever sat at your feet or otherwise close to you in a dog park? This is likely their way of marking their territory. 

Essentially, the behavior is telling other dogs that you're their leader and that everyone else should back off.

While you may view your furry friend as your own, your dog feels the same way about you.

Affection

Your dog may be sitting, laying, or sleeping at your feet is simply because they love you. They want to feel your touch, hear you breathing, and smell you. If you have been gone all day, your dog may be showing this behavior because they've missed you and don't want you to ever leave again.

Some dogs also show signs of affection to comfort you. Dogs are smart creatures that are able to pick up on your emotions pretty easily. If you're crying, sick, or showing signs of stress, your dog will be right there to calm you down.

This behavior is perfectly normal. In fact, if your dog is sitting at your feet simply to show you that they love you, it means that you're doing a great job as an owner. Your dog is thankful for the things you do for them, loves to be around you, and doesn't want you to leave their side.


How Do I Make It Stop?

Generally, sitting on your feet is no cause for concern. Most owners love it. It's a great time to bond with your dog and show some loving affection back. However, if you don't want your dog to be underfoot every moment of the day, there are some things you can do.

Chances are, you've established a bit of positive reinforcement already. If you have ever pet your dog or given them scratches when they sit by your feet, you have already shown them that it's alright for them to do this.

If you want them to stop, you'll need to stop showing affection back.

Never yell or kick your dog if they sit at your feet. The best way to stop this behavior is to encourage them to use their bed. Create an inviting environment and shower them with praise each time they use the bed. Of course, plenty of reward treats are always appreciated.

Dog Sleeping Positions

Now that you understand why your dog lays on your feet, let's delve a bit deeper into your dog's sleeping positions. The way your dog sleeps can tell you a lot about how they're feeling and their overall personality.

Dogs can't communicate freely as we can, so we need to be able to read body language to get a better understanding of how they're doing. Here are some common sleeping positions.

Curled in a Ball

This is a position you'll see often throughout your pup's life. Their arms are tucked under their body and the tail is curled all the way up to their face.

Essentially, they are bundled up tight. This position may indicate that they're cold or that they're a bit uneasy about something. The position keeps their body protected.

Side Sleeping

As mentioned earlier, this is the position you want to see. Your dog will lay on their side, exposing their belly. This shows that your dog is trusting and carefree. They can sleep without having to worry about a thing.

On Their Back

Also affectionately called "Crazy Legs," this position can be a bit amusing to watch. Your dog will lay on their back with their legs pointed up. This is a submissive position because they're leaving their entire body exposed.

If your dog does this, it means that they're feeling generally calm, comfortable, and safe.

Passed Out

While this position looks very similar to the previous one, the biggest difference is their front paws. In this position, the paws are flat on the chest. Typically, this means that your dog is very tired and doesn't want to be bothered. It could also indicate that they're feeling a bit warm. The position allows them to cool off easily.

Spread Out

In this position, your dog's head and belly are flat on the floor. Their four legs are then spread out, making it look like they're flying. Young puppies and energetic dogs do this because it's very easy to wake up and start playing again.

Belly Curl

In the belly curl position, your dog's let is tucked under their body. However, they're not curled up into a ball. Dogs typically don't get a lot of sleep in this position because the muscles can't relax properly.

Conclusion

When your dog lays, sits, or sleeps on your feet, they're doing so because they care about you. Regardless of the exact reason, they go to you because they love you and want your protection.

If the behavior doesn't cause any issues for you, take the opportunity to give your dog plenty of love and affection.

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