Why Do Dogs Sit On Your Feet?
You’ve probably often sat down on your favorite armchair with your pet to unwind after a long, tiring day. Dogs love sitting with their owners and would follow you to the ends of the earth if they could. Sometimes they’ll even sit on your feet as you fall asleep.
This brings us to the question, why do dogs sit on your feet after all? Is there something they’re trying to tell you? We can’t understand the words that our dogs say, but they can usually be trained to understand most of our basic commands.
This puts us at a disadvantage because we can’t understand them as well as they can understand us. Dogs usually have an intuitive, instinctive understanding of what we humans feel that sometimes even we aren’t aware of.
As responsible owners, we have to go the extra mile to see the world through our dog’s eyes and at least attempt to cater to the needs that they can’t voice. One of these is the act of sitting on our feet.
Most of the time, this behavior isn’t even an issue. It feels warm and cozy to have your pet be laying this close by, always available for a pat or a belly rub.
I’ve personally never felt the need to get my dog, Joy, to stop sitting on my feet, but I have had relatives who’ve asked me how to resolve this issue. It isn’t usually an indication of something dangerous or something that should cause you any alarm, but this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t know what other messages the furry creature could be trying to convey.
Although this might not be a problem for us humans, there are certain messages our dogs are trying to send us when they sit on our feet. Sometimes, if we neglect their messages to us, it breaks or weakens the bond we share, and your dog won’t trust you as much as it should.
Imagine living with someone that doesn’t understand your primary body language and brushes you off whenever you attempt to interact. This article will help you learn what you need to know about why your canine is exhibiting this behavior.
Why Do Dogs Sit On Their Owner’s Feet?
We need to understand that there’s no one reason why our dogs do the peculiar things that they do. They’re unable to communicate with us in any way besides their body language. So, they rely on us to understand their distinct personalities, as well as the general traits that dogs have well enough to know what they are trying to convey.
While trying to understand them, we need to keep the context in mind. Different situations could trigger the same responses but hold different meanings. Keeping the dog’s posture and the expression in mind helps you better pinpoint whether their actions are a cause of concern or not.
Some dogs, like Shih Tzu’s, were bred to live in the royal courts during the Ming and Manchu dynasties. Because of how warm and fuzzy their fur is, they were often kept by rulers to act as companions and keep their feet warm.
Puppies grow up in the comfort of their mother and their siblings. They’re used to all sleeping huddled together as a means of gaining each other’s warmth and a sense of security.
When your dog falls asleep at your feet, they could also be trying to gain that feeling of security from you as they once did from their mother and siblings.
To Show Love
Joy often sits on my feet soon after I come home and am resting on the couch after a long day. Dogs do this when they’re showing you love and affection. It may not be the only reason, but one thing is for sure: if your dog is sitting near you as often as he can, he might love you. Many times, they only want to spend a little extra time with you.
You have to remember, dogs love being around other people, especially the ones that you spend your time with. If they feel like they haven’t seen you around as often as they’d like to, they might come to you to get their daily dose of love for the day.
Another one of the primary reasons why dogs tend to sit on our feet is their ‘pack’ instinct.
If your puppy grew up with a group for some time before you got him, they would have developed the instinct to sleep in a pack. They do this to keep warm, stay safe, and close together when they’re sleeping.
Your dog may have always been an only puppy, but it may carry the instincts of wild pack dogs to some extent. Your dog might see you as the leader of their pack, like the way I think Joy looks up to me.
Many dogs see their owners as their leaders and depend on them for protection. When a dog from the pack sits on their leader’s feet, they are relying on the leader to keep them safe. They also sleep near the leader to protect them from harm while resting, because they’d be close enough to stop any predators from coming any closer.
What Do Different Sitting Positions Mean?
Your dog may sit on your feet in different ways. Each sitting position has its own meaning and a particular message that your dog wants to convey to you.
Here are some dog sitting positions and their meanings.
Sometimes, when your dog comes up to you and sits on your feet, he might be telling you that he’s scared and needs you for protection. If you see your dog exhibiting the following behavior, it could be a sign that he’s worried:
- Tucking their tailback
- Making whimpering noises
- Cowering and trying to hide itself
- Occasionally, a scared dog will show you by starting to chew on objects and ruining furniture
If you’re out of your house a lot and leave your dog alone at home, there’s a higher chance that your dog might have developed separation anxiety.
We have many tasks to take care of and numerous people to see throughout the day, but when we’re gone, our furry children have no one to hang out with. That’s why they develop a fear of you leaving them alone to fend for themselves.
A dog that is prone to be anxious will see you as their protection from the outside world. If you notice that your dog only sits on your feet when you’re in public, like at the park or in a gathering of new people, you could assume that your dog is scared and is asking you to look out for it. They see you as their security, so they sit as close to you as they can so that you can look after them.
Some dogs also sit at your feet to mark you as ‘theirs.’ This doesn’t mean they’re marking you as their territory because, for that, they would have to pee on you. Dogs secrete a scent that lets other dogs know that you’re their owner and that the two of you share a bond.
This is how they let other animals know that you are the one that looks after them and that you and he are a unit. It’s not even necessary that they secrete this scent to mark you; sometimes, they are simply trying to combine your scent with theirs to convey a message.
If this isn’t the perfect indication of being accepted as their owner, then I don’t know what is. If you have several pups and can’t handle their constant struggle to be noticed and gain your attention, you have to distribute yourself and be available for all of them.
Sometimes, they’re telling us they want our attention and need us to give them our time. They might want to go on a walk, be petted, or have you sit in one place so they can be near you.
So, if you’ve ever wondered why do dogs sit on your feet when there are tens of other, better options to choose from, it might just be because it needs some extra attention from you.
A lot of times, we don’t realize that we are our pet’s only friends and companions. They love spending time with us and gain comfort from knowing that we are around.
Trying to Give You Support
Our dogs know us better than most people in our lives. They have a sense of knowing when you’re distressed and in need of some moral support.
Sometimes, dogs will sit on your feet to offer you comfort because they know that you’re going through a difficult phase in your life. They can read your body language the same way that you’re continually trying to read theirs, but they’re better at it than you are.
If they can feel that you have a different posture and demeanor than you usually do, they can use these indicators to figure out your mood. When your dog sits on your feet, he could merely be letting you know that he’s there for you and will give you its full support through thick and thin.
What Can You Do to Stop Dogs from Sitting on Your Feet?
As you must have figured out by now, most of the reasons why our dogs sit on our feet are not dangerous or life-threatening. They’re usually simple messages that your dog wants to get across to you to strengthen your bond.
However, if you’re not comfortable with having a dog at your feet while trying to do your work, or if you want to help your dog overcome this habit, there are specific measures you can take to prevent it.
Here is what you should do and must not do when training your dog not to sit on your feet.
Do the Following
One easy solution is to provide all the dogs their own designated space to lie down by your feet. This way, they won’t be fighting to get the prime position right on top of your feet. Spend enough time with all of them, so they aren’t struggling with jealousy among each other.
If your dog is prone to anxiety and acts extremely clingy when you come home after a long day, maybe try and invest in another pet to give him company.It’s always a good idea to adopt.
This way, you’re giving a home to a pet that needs one, while also creating a more welcoming and enjoyable environment for the pet that you currently have, by giving him someone to hang out with when you’re not around. This could significantly reduce the social anxiety and the separation anxiety that your dog feels.
If their behavior becomes possessive, and you notice that they no longer tolerate other people approaching you or being near you, they are most likely insecure about the resources available to them.
In situations like these, it is best to visit a canine behaviorist who will help your dog overcome his insecurities and lessen the amount of problematic behavior that he has.
Take your dog to the vet. A visit to the vet may determine if any underlying conditions could be eliciting this behavior.
See if your pet needs to be taken out for a walk, or let out to do its business.
Avoid Doing the Following
If you suspect that your dog’s behavior is a result of showing dominance and trying to exert authority over you, you’re wrong. Don’t try to resolve this behavior by trying to discipline the dog. If you decide to chastise the dog, you’re giving off negative emotions.
Since we know that the reason for their behavior isn’t to be dominating, you’re primarily going to be giving off the impression that you are not as close to them as they thought you were by misinterpreting the dog’s message to you. This will, in turn, ruin the bond that the two of you share.
A lot of people see their dog’s behavior as aggressive, but when you’re trying to combat this behavior with more aggression, you aren’t doing yourself or the dog any favors.
When animals are aggressive, it’s because of a history of poor socialization skills, for example, from being isolated as a puppy and not learning how to interact with others. It can also be from trauma, like from having an abusive former owner, or it can also be from hormonal changes that the dog is going through.
For these, the dog needs to be checked on by a trained professional, like a behaviorist who can help them overcome these issues for good and not scare them into not exhibiting them in front of you.
Final Thoughts on Why Do Dogs Sit on Your Feet
So, why do dogs sit on your feet? There are numerous reasons, varying from wanting attention, to wanting to give you the support you need after a long day. It could also be because they’re anxious, scared, or suffering from separation anxiety, for which you should get them checked out by the relevant specialist as soon as you can.
The reasons could also be as instinctual as the pack mentality that dogs have in the wild, and for these situations, it is up to you to decide whether you want them to quit the habit or let matters be.
As a dog parent, it’s essential to know that your pet is just as much a part of your family as your spouse or children. We wouldn’t want to spend our entire lives cooped up in a house where nobody makes an effort to try and get to know us better.
We wouldn’t like the thought of trying to speak up but not being heard. So, we shouldn’t create a household environment where our pet feels that way either.
For us, our pets are not the primary members in our lives. We have so many preoccupations and responsibilities apart from taking care of them and tending to our needs.
However, they spend the majority of their short lives only thinking about and worrying about us. Their sole purpose in life is to tend to our emotional needs when they see us struggling and give us company when we look sad and lonely. They can’t even be let out into the lawn or go for a walk without our help, so it’s our responsibility to be as available to them as we can.
Paul Cook is an avid pet and animal enthusiast. He spent much of her childhood on a small farm in rural Iowa. When in high school, Paul nursed an entire box of newborn, and recently dumped, kittens back to health, and successfully found homes for all of them. He’s presently the dog-dad of nine beautiful dogs, Bruno, Lester, Sandy, Bailey, Dio, Pat, Max, Brutus, and Nora. In his career life, Paul has 20+ years of writing experience as a content writer and content collaborator across a host of verticals. When he is not writing, he is spending time with his dogs.