What Does It Mean When a Dog Goes Between Your Legs?

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Your dog always looks to you for comfort, protection, and affection. They do this by leaning, sitting, or lying under your legs. 

However, there are weird times when they go between your legs. And you’re clueless on why they do this.

So, what does it mean when a dog goes between your legs?

There are so many factors to consider when your dog exhibits this behavior.

We share with you why your dog walks between your legs and how to stop the behavior if you need to. 

We also discuss how to train them to perform this behavior for tactical benefits.

Dog goes between your legs

Factors to Consider When Your Dog Goes Between Your Legs

Before determining all the possible reasons why your dog goes between your legs, it is first important to know which factors affect this behavior.

Here are some questions to guide you.

When Did Your Dog First Go Between Your Legs?

Do you remember when your furry friend first did this behavior? You want to remember what happened during that time that led them to go between your legs. 

If they have never done this before, then it is likely that there will be a trigger. 

Maybe they first started doing it when you gave them a treat. This means you rewarded them when they first started doing it and they keep doing it now in hopes of getting more treats.

Your dog may also have done this the first time when they heard fireworks. They got overwhelmed and realized they feel safer when they are in this position.

When and Where Do They Go Between Your Legs?

The timing of when your dog goes between your legs should also be considered. 

While they can do this randomly, a certain stimulus usually causes them to stay or walk between your legs. 

For instance, your dog may only go between your legs before you leave for work. This may indicate that they have separation anxiety.

They also do this when you are busy doing something instead of giving them attention.

Sometimes, it’s a place that causes them to go between your legs. If it is too cold in your bedroom, they might try to stay warm between your legs. 

Most of the time, dogs go between our legs when another dog or person is around. Being close to us gives them a sense of comfort.

What Does it Mean When a Dog Goes Between Your Legs?

Many say that medium to large dogs are more likely to weave their way between your legs than small dogs. 

Now that you know how to observe and decode the trigger of your dog’s behavior, here are some possible reasons they are doing it.

Anxiety

One reason your dog keeps ongoing between your legs can be anxiety. They get overly stressed about their surroundings, so they stay as close to you as possible for relief and comfort.

This is more likely to be the reason if they only do this when another person or animal is around. They feel uncomfortable when there are others around, so they seek contact with you. 

Even new environments, like the vet clinic or a new park, can make your dog feel nervous and uncertain.

Loud noises, such as thunder and fireworks, can also make them anxious and find solace between your legs.

Protection

Another possible reason why your dog stays between your legs is to protect you. 

When you have a guard dog and other people are around, they might stay with you and growl at them.

Many K-9 police dogs are also trained to do this for tactical reasons.

This is a sign of good behavior if they recognize who is a threat and who is not. Socialize your dog with other dogs and with friends and family, so they don’t display signs of aggression.

Reinforced Behavior

It could be the case that your dog has learned that going between your legs allows them to get what they want. In most cases, it’s just the attention that they yearn for.

Or you probably gave them a treat once before when they did it and now, they keep doing it to get more treats.

This is also more likely if you tend to give them a belly rub when they go between your legs. 

Avoid rewarding your dog when they go between your legs as it may help discourage the behavior. 

Seeking Attention

You are your dog’s best friend. They turn to you for entertainment and comfort.

If your dog likes going between your dogs all the time, it can simply be because they want attention. 

If they like doing this when you’re busy cooking or doing paperwork, then this is more likely the reason. Sometimes, they even walk with you above them!

It’s okay to reward them with attention from time to time, but don’t get them used to it. You don’t want to unintentionally train them to be dependent on you. 

Submission

Your dog may also be submissive if they like going between your legs. 

Dogs show dominance over other dogs in the wild by mounting them in a non-sexual way. If your dog likes being under you, then it could be their way of showing that you are the more dominant one.

It is also a clear sign that they see you as the pack leader, although you might want to train them to stop doing it all the time.

Stop dog going between your legs

Should You Stop Your Dog from Going Between Your Legs?

This depends. Some consider this behavior harmless. In fact, it’s a cool trick to have your dog walk between your legs! 

But there are cases when this can indicate that there is something wrong with your dog. Here are some reasons why you might want to put a stop to this behavior.

Separation Anxiety

As mentioned, dogs may have the habit of going between their legs because they have separation anxiety. This occurs when they are too attached and dependent on you.

A dog gets super stressed when they are left alone. The symptoms include:

  • excessive barking 
  • excessive howling
  • chewing
  • digging
  • escaping
  • obsessive pacing
  • peeing inside.

Relieve your dog’s separation anxiety so they can be in a calm and happy state every time you are not around. 

Fearful Dog

Some dogs display signs of fear like hiding between your legs. 

Understand the symptoms of a fearful dog, then identify what they are scared of. This will help them stop hiding between you all the time before the situation gets worse.

Some signs of a fearful dog may include:

  • hiding
  • barking
  • growling
  • pacing
  • lip licking
  • whining.

You know your dog best. So, if you see any signs of distress when your dog is between your legs then you may need to do something to help them.

How to Stop Your Dog from Going Between Your Legs

If you want to stop your dog from going between your legs for whatever reason, then here are some tips.

Positive Reinforcement Training

The main principle behind positive reinforcement is to reward your dog for their good behavior because it will encourage them to keep exhibiting good behavior. 

Reward your dog every time they are not between your legs. But when they go between their legs, ignore them. 

Does that mean you have to reward them during all the occurrences they are not between you? No.

Reward them before they even try going between your legs. But when they go there, stop immediately. 

Hopefully, they will quickly learn that they don’t get any attention from you when they do this anymore. And it may stop them from seeking comfort in this way.

Reduce Separation Anxiety

If your dog is going between your legs because they have separation anxiety, then you have to solve the root cause. 

Dogs usually develop separation anxiety due to a change in residence, new people in the house, or changes to their regular schedule.

Once you have asserted yourself as the pack leader, you want your dog to be independent. 

We have a comprehensive guide on stopping dog separation anxiety, but here are some tips for you:

  • Make your arrivals and departures low-key.
  • Leave your recently worn clothes around for your dog to smell.
  • Establish a command word that you will use when it is time to leave.
  • Confine them to their own space.

Don’t Punish Your Dog

We understand how difficult it is to train your dog. Positive reinforcement is effective, but it does not work right away.

Nevertheless, we do not recommend punishing your dog. If you punish them, they do not understand what you are doing it for.

They might also resent you for hurting them. 

What would help is to stop rewarding them when they misbehave. You also want to use positive reinforcement techniques to get them to behave the way you desire. 

When You Should Encourage Your Dog to Go Between Your Legs

In some cases, it’s beneficial to train your dog to go between your legs. This is especially helpful if you have a guard dog. 

Professional K-9 trainers ask their dogs to move between their legs as they move, and this training is called “tactical obedience.”

But the act of your dog moving between your legs is called a “tactical heel.” 

This behavior allows them to stay focused on you while staying silent. This is done through a transition from visual or verbal communication to tactile communication. 

It’s beneficial on your part too because you can keep your eyes on your surroundings instead of your dog. You are also sure about where your dog is while avoiding tripping each other. 

Your dog is also guaranteed safe in times of danger because they are between your legs. 

Still, you have to remember that it is completely different for your dog to be trained to stand between your legs and for them to go in between your legs spontaneously. 

Training them gives a tactical advantage. But the spontaneous behavior is usually a result of a lack of training. 

How to Train Your Dog to Walk Between Your Legs

To encourage your dog, make sure you have treats with you, a toy they love, and a clicker. 

This will take you around 5-10 minutes per day.

Barrier Method

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Spend a few minutes every day playing with your dog’s favorite toy. It can be a plush toy like Multipet’s Gumby Toy. It’s the perfect item if you want a soft and squeaky toy for your dog.

You can also try Paraflight Flyer Toy from Chuckit if your dog is a little more active. It’s designed to fly a long distance and is chew-proof.

ChuckIt! Paraflight Flyer Dog Toy, Small (Orange/Blue)

Any toy that will get them excited is good.

After this, have the toy in your hand and stand with your legs open in a spot where there are barriers by your side. 

Be resourceful. You can use your sofa, chair, or table. The goal is to have your dog’s only path be through your legs.

Then, hold your dog’s toy under your legs until they walk through your legs to get to it. 

As they move forward, move the toy further back.

Once they head for the toy, say the word “tunnel, or whatever word you choose for this command.

Make sure to reward them with a treat every time they obey your command. 

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We recommend Milo’s Kitchen Dog Treats. Available in 10 flavors like Duck Jerky and Beef Brisket with Vegetables, these treats are only made of natural and delicious ingredients!

Figure 8 Method

This figure 8 method will have your dog weaving between your legs in no time.

For this method, you can use treats and a clicker. 

Check out HoAoOo’s Pet Training Clicker. It comes with 2 button clickers that you can use for teaching tricks and correcting bad behavior.

HoAoOo Pet Training Clicker with Wrist Strap - Dog Training Clickers (New Black + Blue)

First, hold a treat down by your right ankle. You want your dog to smell it to understand that it is yummy. 

Then, move the treat around your ankle and between the legs. Give the clicker a click as soon as they walk through your legs.

This clicker method will signal your dog that they have performed a behavior correctly. Follow it up with the tasty treat and praises.

Keep leading them back around your ankle and then in between your legs again. You can alternate the ankles to follow you in a figure 8.

Keep rewarding the behavior and make sure to use the clicker.

If your dog is not clicker trained, you can just use treats instead. 

See what it looks like in action in this video.

FAQ Dog Body Language and Training

How Can I Read My Dog’s Body Language?

The key to reading your dog’s body language is observing their gestures and behavior together with their surroundings.

Do not read their gestures in isolation. For example, when your dog is wagging their tail, it’s misleading to conclude that they are happy.

Check if their ears are relaxed and if their environment makes them comfortable. 

Check out what your dog’s body language means so you can respond to what they are communicating and understand their needs.

Why Does My Dog Keep Touching Me?

There could be a lot of possible reasons why your dog keeps on touching you. They are probably seeking attention, trying to protect you, or looking for some comfort.

Some dogs also like touching you because they are experiencing separation anxiety.

The key to knowing why your dog keeps on touching you is by understanding when they do it and what is happening when they are not doing it.

Learn all the possible causes of your dog touching you and how to stop them if you need to.

What Other Commands Should I Teach My Dog?

There are many commands you can teach your dog, including come, sit, stay, wait, and watch. 

These are the foundation of dog training to make them obedient and safe. 

Other commands you can teach your furry friend include, off, heel, leave it, and lie down. 

The tip is to always say “good” or “yes” and then offer treats and praises for good behavior. This will let your dog know that they are doing something right.  

Always say the command word as well so they will associate the action with it. 

Learn how to teach basic dog commands to your dog to ensure their safety and good behavior!

Your Dog Looks to You for Comfort

If your dog likes to go between your legs sometimes, then it is perfectly fine and harmless. There is no need to correct a behavior that isn’t causing disturbance or danger.

They are probably just in need of your love and reassurance. You can even encourage this behavior for tactical benefits.

But if they are doing it more often, during unwanted times, and they are starting to knock you over, then it’s time to train them to stop going between your legs.

You also want to treat any underlying cause, such as fear, anxiety, and excessive attention-seeking. 

Aside from going between your legs, dogs also seek attention by licking your feet. Learn how to stop your dog from licking your feet to keep them well-behaved!