Does your dog keep insisting on sleeping on your feet whenever there is a chance given?
The question may dog parents ask is – why does my dog lay on my feet?
The answer to this question can be pretty straightforward, but this type of behavior may have a more complex explanation referring to the natural instincts of dogs as well.
Some pets will love spending as much time possible by your side, sleeping on your feet, cuddling next to you on your couch or bed, pawing you, speaking to you, and otherwise staying right beside you.
If you want to know more about the reason for this behavior, read on to find out the reasons why your dog sleeps and lays on your feet.
Why does your dog love your feet?
Your pup may seem fixated on lying on your feet due to simple love and affection, as well as due to its inborn instincts. Often the reason for your dog sleeping and relaxing on your feet is due to a search for closeness, comfort, and the instinctual need for canines to be part of their pack.
Here is a detailed overview of the reasons behind your dog staying by your side, sleeping on your feet, and following you around the house.
The natural instincts behind this behavior
While you may consider your pup as your best friend and one and only unique animal, the truth is that historically, dogs have been pack animals. With biologists and other researchers agreeing on the theory that dogs became domesticated and evolved from wild wolves, it is natural that today’s dogs still have some of the natural instincts typical of their ancient ancestors – the wolves.
Wolves typically live in packs and travel in packs, and when they move around, they sleep huddled around their leader for comfort, safety, and warmth.
So, one explanation of why your dog lays on your feet is that it considers you the leader of the pack and is seeking closeness, security, and warmness too.
Because the pack members will lay beside their pack leader at the spot which the leader has chosen, it is likely that your pup considers you the pack leader and wants to show you devotion and respect towards you when you are sitting or lying in a position of your choice.
So, this behavior in your dog may be ingrained deeply in its DNA.
In search of security
Over time, your pup will start seeing you as a pack leader and will put all of its trust towards you for care, protection, and affection, especially when it feels scared or insecure.
Just like with young children, the pup will look for the safety and security of somebody he or she trusts the most, especially when feeling scared or uneasy.
If your dog is feeling nervous for one reason or another, it is all-natural that it seeks protection by laying on your feet and staying as close to you as possible.
Many dogs will display this type of behavior when they are under some sort of stress or feeling anxious, such as when there is a thunderstorm, fireworks, or other situations that make them feel nervous and scared.
There are some submissive dogs that tend to do this on a daily basis, so you may find that your pup spends most of its time sleeping or laying down right on your feet.
Sleeping is the time when dogs are at their most vulnerable, especially the stray dogs outdoors. When they are sleeping, they are not aware of any potential dangers or their surroundings. This is why they commonly prefer the donut-like sleeping position. It is the position in which the dog is curled up in a ball-like shape, with its legs tucked in and all its vital organs protected.
Even though your pup may be spoiled and is most probably safe and comfortable in your home, it may still instinctually look for the safest place and position to sleep in.
And what is safer than laying on your feet and feeling your closeness, warmth, and sense of protection?
It may be a territorial behavior
Since most dogs create a very strong with their humans, it is very likely that your dog may be displaying territorial behavior if it likes to lay on your feet, stay very close to you and even sit on your lap, especially when you are outside, and there are other dogs present.
This is a way to mark its territory and to make sure that other dogs stay away from it.
The strong devotion of your dog will make it want to keep you and have you all for itself and prevent any other pup from trying to claim you as its own pack leader.
This may be perceived as cute behavior in some cases. Still, if your dog shows signs of aggression to others associated with its territorial behavior and threatens other dogs or people who are trying to get near you, then you should consider resorting to more serious training or hiring a professional dog trainer to correct this potentially dangerous behavior.
A display of dominance
Sometimes the fact that your dog lays on your feet or hops on your lap may also be a display of dominance. It is a way to show other people and other pets around you that it is, in fact, in charge.
Sitting on you makes the dog feel more secure, and higher and gives it a feeling of being in charge of the situation. This is common behavior for dogs when a new pet arrives in the family.
It can also occur when you have a guest at home, and the dog jumps on the stranger’s lap to display its dominance.
Of course, hopping on your lap may be simply a display of affection and love towards you.
Dominant behavior in dogs can be recognized by this but also by other behavior at home.
If your dog is showing an extreme display of dominance and it threatens other pets or members of your family, you should consider correcting this conduct with suitable behavioral training or by taking your pup to a dog trainer for advice and professional training.
An act of protection
While dogs usually lay on your feet or on your lap to seek safety and protection, the reason for your pup’s behavior may be quite the opposite – it may be trying to protect you.
Since you, as the leader of the pack, are the most important individual, your pup may feel the urge to offer you as much protection as possible at all times. This can include sitting or laying on your feet, ready to stand against any danger.
While this behavior can be sweet and seem adorable for dog owners if this type of protective behavior becomes extreme and your dog starts perceiving everybody else as a threat, this is a matter which needs to be addressed as soon as possible with the right training and measures.
Such aggressive protective behavior may become dangerous to other dogs, to other people, and to your own dog, so it needs to be curbed for everyone’s safety.
A display of love
While instinctual behavior can be a part of the reason why your dog lays on your feet or is always close to you, there is still a more simple explanation for this behavior, and it is a sign of love and affection.
Since you and your family are the entire world and universe to your pup, it comes as no surprise that your dog truly loves you and wants to be beside you always.
Plus, dogs are sensitive creatures that can read their owners’ feelings. It is likely that your dog will sense if you are feeling down, sad, in pain, or otherwise unhappy.
If your dog notices that you are not feeling well and happy, the chances are that it will want to soothe you and try to make you feel better. And what better way to do it than by laying on your feet or hopping on your lap?
So, if you find that your dog lays on your feet when you are having emotional problems, then this is most probably a sign that your pup wants to give you a big hug and console you.
In search of warmth
If your dog cuddles on top of your feet on a colder night, then it is most probably looking for a source of warmth. By cuddling on your feet or beside you, your pup can share its and your body heat and feel cozier and warmer, and so will you.
As mentioned earlier, this is part of the instinctive behavior of dogs inherited from wolves which snuggle with their pack leaders to be warmer and for protection.
Some smaller and gentler dog breeds like Chihuahuas and Shi Tzus will do this more often than other breeds as they are more susceptible to colder weather and cooler temperatures.
Staying aware of your whereabouts
Just like clingy young children, some dogs prefer to stay as close to you as possible and keep an eye on your whereabouts at all times.
By laying on your feet, your dog will be aware of each and every move you make.
This may be caused by the desire to protect you, to be safe, and to show its devotedness to you.
Should this habit be allowed?
While most dog parents find this closeness to their pup adorable and consider it a sign of affection and a time for some cuddling and patting, there are some cases when this habit of the dog laying on the owner’s feet is not desirable.
If your pup is showing extreme territorial and protective behavior or is displaying dominance by threatening other pets and people who come close, then this is the time to take action to curb it.
You can curb unwanted and aggressive behavior displayed by your dog in several different ways.
One way is to abstain from encouraging your dog when it is engaging in this behavior. This means no praising, petting, treats, or other positive reinforcement if the dog is aggressive towards others.
Instead of praising your dog for laying on your feet, you can ignore it by not petting or interacting with it and try to encourage it to go and lay in its dog bed or another place instead. You can place the dog bed close to you, but without allowing the dog to show aggression when somebody or another pet tries to get close to you.
Once your pup goes to its bed, you can then praise it and give it a treat as a form of positive reinforcement. This will make it more inclined to go directly to its bed instead of lay on your feet next time.
If your dog keeps showing aggression towards other pets or humans, and it doesn’t seem to be diminishing, you may want to resort to an experienced dog trainer. Dog trainers will know how to handle this potentially dangerous situation and curb the unwanted behavior in your pup.
So, unless your pup is displaying aggressive behavior when laying on your feet, this behavior from your dog can be recognized as an act of love and affection for you. It also can show the pup’s desire to protect you, soothe you when you are feeling down, and show you how special and important you are to it.
It is also a way to make the dog itself feel protected, more comfortable, warm, and well while it is relaxing or sleeping.
Whether it is a sign of your dog’s sensitivity and love, or an instinctual behavior, laying on your feet is perfectly normal and fine unless it is accompanied by undesired aggression due to the dog’s territorial, protective, or dominant behavior.
If your pup is showing behavioral problems, you can try resolving them yourself or speak to a professional dog trainer.
Otherwise, you can continue enjoying life with your favorite pup sleeping on your feet or beside you.