In keeping with the general theme of dog behaviors, it is safe to say that when your dog sleeps at your feet, it is another form of communication. While one can draw some obvious conclusions, there are some points to ponder that hearken back to their days as pack animals. “Why does my dog sleep at my feet” is a common question but one with answers that can span a lot of territory.
We see this in a litter when pups are small and learning how to be pups themselves. Let’s take the example of a puppy choosing to sleep near or next to mom’s tail. This is largely the spot chosen to avoid getting rolled on if sleeping next to mom when she shifts her position.
It is also a position of protection as the mother is the pack leader and the puppies feel protected by being close. In your home, you are the pack leader and your pooch feels protected when close to you.
Personally, I enjoy it when my dog chooses to sleep on my feet.
That said, I am more convinced she chooses to do it when I am at my desk because she gets a pretty clear view of the rest of the room and into the house from underneath the desk while perhaps feeling a greater sense of protection behind the furniture.
Sleeping on my feet in bed, well, she might start there but often ends up laying cross-ways taking up most of the space.
Consider where you are when you experience your dog covering your feet. At the dog park, it becomes a clear and evident statement to all other dogs that you are a leader who is off-limits to anyone else. Not only is your dog depositing his or her scent upon you directly, but it is also a demonstration that your dog is protecting you.
Conversely, some dogs experience a touch of anxiety when in the company of strangers or amid loud noises or anything else not typically familiar to the environment. In this case, huddling close to or on your feet serves as a form of self-protection.
Take note of your dog’s position or how they fall asleep on your feet. It is a pretty good sign that your dog feels completely protected if he or she has fallen asleep on their side with your tootsies warmly tucked underneath.
Any time your dog exposes its belly, it is a sure sign of comfort and safety. This is a position of vulnerability in the wild. When they sleep this way with you, they are clearly showing that they trust you to keep them safe.
When wondering why does my dog sleep on my feet, you may just accept the fact that this is your dog’s opportunity to demonstrate his protection of you. Even if there is no perceived threat, your dog may be showing you that he wants no harm to come to you.
It’s also worth noting that when sleeping on your feet, your dog is putting itself between you and any danger that may come along. It does make one wonder, what exactly will your dog do when there is a threat present? It is something to think about when realizing that this communication is one of showing you that your dog is prepared to put himself between you and danger.
In extreme cases, this can be a case of your dog not wanting to ever be too far from you. You will know this is the case if you get up and move to another chair and Fido immediately follows suit and lands on your feet again. This indicates a behavior you are probably going to want to correct and it’s best to start this correction when the dog is young.
It can be tough to determine if the underlying reason is love, or dominance, or separation anxiety but it’s important to understand that how you react will determine if you are fostering the behavior or not. If you come to understand the behavior is stemming from separation anxiety, you’ll be best served to discourage it. Not by kicking or yelling, of course, but by distraction and maybe a new comfy and calming dog bed where your pooch can rest easy.
Let us not underestimate your dog’s ability to detect your mood. As smart as dogs are, it is not unreasonable to find your dog can tell when you may be stressed, sick, or sad. This is their way of offering the salve to calm you down. Isn’t that thoughtful? We do the same for them when they are stressed.
Another obvious reason your dog chooses to sleep on, sit next to, or lay on your feet is simply that they love you. They want to be close, to be near your smell as it is a strong association. They do not want to leave your side. It could also be a signal that they never want you to leave their side, especially if you have been gone all day.
While the feeling is mutual, some dog owners would prefer it if their dog chose to sleep either beside them or somewhere else. If this is the case, it is easy enough to encourage alternative behavior. While it is a great bonding time, you may very well have encouraged your dog’s foot fetish with some positive reinforcement.
If you want your dog to make another choice of cozy spots, cease the affectionate contact. You must never resort to raising your voice or resorting to physical rejection such as kicking them. As with all training, distract them from their fixation with another option, and, of course, treats are the best way to get their happy attention.
To sum it up, reasons your dog may be sleeping on your feet are:
Examine your own contribution to the situation if it is one you are not entirely pleased with. If you are fine with it, go ahead and make that physical connection to show your approval. Your dog looks to you for those signs, and sleeping on your feet may be an honest appeal to get you to do just that.
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