What Does It Mean When a Dog Lays on Your Feet?

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You’ve probably experienced your dog not wanting to leave your side. They go everywhere you go and make sure they are in close physical contact with you at all times.

Some dogs even lay on your feet. This might be one of their cutest behaviors yet but it’s hard to understand the reasons behind this.

So, what does it mean when your dog lays on your feet?

Find out all the possible reasons why your dog does this and what you should do about it.

Dogs usually lay on your feet to show affection and protection. 

But what if your dog does not lay on your feet? Does that mean they don’t love you? We’ll answer this question right here, right now!

Dogs lays on your feet

Why Your Dog Lays on Your Feet

If you’re wondering what your dog is trying to say when they lay on your feet, here are some possible reasons. 

Affection

It’s normal for your dog to lay on your feet as a sign of affection. Dogs show affection in many other ways, like looking you in the eyes and leaning on you.

They simply love to feel you against them anytime, anywhere! It’s relaxing and helps them get to know you more.

They love being close to you the way a friend wants to sit next to you. 

Your dog might also want to be by your feet so that they can prepare to follow you at the slightest movement. 

It’s also possible for your dog to enjoy the smell of your legs or the warmth of your feet, which is why they lay on them. 

Anxiety

Your dog may choose to lay on your feet in certain situations because they are feeling anxious. 

You can confirm this by observing their body language and environment. 

Are they excessively panting or drooling while laying on your feet? Which stressors are present? Is their tail tucked underneath them? Is their head lowered?

Dogs try to be as close to you as possible every time they are stressed out. 

Canine Instinct

Dogs are social creatures who enjoy being in packs. 

Even if they are used to being alone with you at home, they still have those behaviors ingrained in them.

The act of sitting on your feet may be part of their ancestral DNA.

As mentioned, dogs like to travel in packs, especially in the wild. They need to protect one another while cooperating for food and survival. 

And when they sleep, they huddle together. The leader of the pack has the privilege of being in the most comfortable spot, while the others lay close to them for warmth and protection.

Very similar to your dynamics at home, right? You are the pack leader at home and your dog enjoys your company.

When sleeping, you take the comfiest spot, and your dog tries to stay as close as possible to you.

It’s automatic for dogs to have a pack mentality. They start showing these behaviors when sleeping with their mothers by laying on their tails. 

They want to avoid getting crushed in case they get rolled on. 

Dominance

If your dog likes laying on your feet, sitting on your lap, or simply being on you, it might mean that they think they are in charge.

Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes, it could be because they are just happy to see you. But most of the time, it’s because they see themselves as the leader of the pack. 

They feel higher and more in charge when they are sitting on you. It’s also a way for them to assert dominance over other pets in the room.

We can’t always tell if this is the case. If you want to know whether your dog sees themselves as the pack leader or not, check their overall behavior. 

Other ways dogs show dominance at home include:

  • always asking for food
  • demanding attention through biting, mouthing, or whining
  • does not move out of your way
  • excessive barking
  • jumping on furniture without permission
  • guarding food and toys
  • growling or barking at other members of the family
  • humping you or your guests
  • peeing or pooping in inappropriate places
  • will not let you or anyone else handle them.

Having a dog who sees themselves as the dominant one is annoying and dangerous. 

Make sure to train your dog to see you as the pack leader so they may grow into well-mannered, obedient dogs. 

Gathering Information

Studies show that dogs display this “secure base effect” just like the one found in parent-child bonding.

This means that dogs seek our presence for comfort the way children cling to their parents.

Dogs are guaranteed that they are the first to know about where you’ve been to and what you’re up to every time they are close to you. 

When you switch positions in bed or get up to go to the kitchen, they will be alerted right away because they can feel your feet as they lay on them.

A furry friend who is always curious about you is a devoted companion you can trust. 

What does your dog get from this? Knowing your whereabouts helps them feel safe and happy because they are protecting you. 

Learned Behavior

Your dog is laying on your feet because you have unintentionally reinforced this behavior. 

For instance, they are more likely to get your attention when they lay on your feet because the last time they did it, you gave them a belly rub. 

It’s acceptable to look at your furry friend or even talk to them when they lay on top of your feet. 

But you have to be careful about doing it regularly as you are unconsciously training them to keep doing it. 

Protecting the Pack

On the other hand, your dog might be laying on top of you in an attempt to protect you from any perceived threats. 

This happens more often if you have a guard dog at home with your family.

They often feel inclined to protect you because you are the most important member of the pack.

They want to shield you from any sort of danger, and they do this by stopping you from going anywhere. They put themselves between your legs or on top of your feet to hinder you.

Sometimes, there really isn’t any threat. But it doesn’t mean your dog will stop being vigilant about your surroundings. They will give their all to guarantee our safety.

Dogs are very alert beings, so they will do anything to make sure you are safe and happy.

But this can be a problem if they start developing any type of aggression from their alertness and over-protection. 

If your dog is unnecessarily protecting the pack too much, get a trainer to work with your dog so they can avoid being aggressive. 

Safety and Comfort

As mentioned, dogs sometimes feel relaxed and comfortable knowing they are close to you. 

And while dogs are the best guardians we can have, they also want to feel safe and protected by us. 

Even the biggest and the fiercest dogs can feel unsafe at times. And it’s common among more submissive dogs. 

They go to you for protection and try laying on your feet.

For example, if they hear loud sounds, feel scared of strangers, or are afraid of the dark, they go to you for comfort.  

Sometimes, your touch is all it takes to make your dog feel safe! 

Check the way your dog is sleeping when they sleep on your feet. If they do so with their feet tucked and on their side, then it means they feel safe with you. 

Seeking Attention

Some dogs lay on your feet because they know it will get them the attention that they need. 

Dogs will do anything to get your attention. Sometimes, they are trying to communicate something important. Other times, they just want some playtime or food.

Trying to restrict your feet movement might be their way of being noticed by you. It’s up to you how you will respond.

It’s okay to play with them if they do this. But we recommend ignoring them from time to time when they do this so that this doesn’t turn into bad behavior. 

Territorial

Because dogs are loyal creatures who enjoy their pack leader’s company, then they have a reason to mark their spot, which just so happened to be your feet. 

They want everyone to stay away from you. Whenever you are out in public and someone’s dog approaches you, your dog wants to make sure that the other dog smells them.

They will find a way to tell everyone that you are theirs. This is their way of telling you that you are the best pack leader anyone could ever have.

Be careful, though. Their territorial behavior might lead to bad behavior like aggression! 

Your dog might get so attached to you that they can hurt others for being close to you. Let your dog know that not all dogs and people are a threat by training them.

They Think You Need Them

Our dogs can be sensitive creatures! They pick up on our emotions, understand when we are in command, and they can even tell if we’re stressed out.

If they sense that we are feeling sad, happy, stressed, out, sick, or scared, they will do anything to let us know we are not alone. They will lay on our feet to keep us warm.

Dogs will do anything to help us when we’re feeling down. As mentioned, laying on our feet is one way to show affection. 

They want to let us know that they are present, and it’s a very comforting feeling.

Dog sitting on your feet

When to Stop Your Dog from Sitting on Your Feet

Sitting on your feet is not considered a bad habit no matter what their motivation is. There is nothing to worry about even if they keep doing it.

Their kind has been like this even in the wild, so it’s an instinct that you should not restrict. 

Sometimes, your dog’s clingy behavior is an important part of your relationship. They sit on your feet, lay next to you, paw at you, or lean on your body to bond with you.

It’s also a good moment to show them equal affection. Try giving them a belly rub, scratching behind their ears, or giving them verbal praises when they lay on your feet. 

It only becomes bad behavior when they suddenly do it all the time and never let you move anymore. 

Remember to be patient with your dog despite this. They could be doing it as a result of fear and anxiety. They don’t feel safe in their environment, and you are their protector. 

As always, look for the root cause of the behavior and resolve it. If it’s a problem with dominance, train and socialize them so they can be more amicable and relaxed. 

You can also train them to stop laying on your feet when they start doing this during inconvenient times, like when you’re about to leave for work or when cooking.

Overall, you don’t have to stop them from sitting on your feet if it’s not causing inconvenience and if it’s not a result of a behavioral problem.

How to Stop Your Dog from Laying on Your Feet

If you want your dog to stop laying on your feet, we suggest following these tips!

Stop Rewarding Them

Refrain from giving your dog any kind of reward when they start laying on your feet. Do not give them treats, verbal praises, belly rubs, or any kind of attention.

If you give your dog a belly rub when they do this, they will learn that this is the outcome of their behavior. They will associate laying on your feet with belly rubs and will do this often.

That is the basic tenet of behaviorism. Dogs learn based on a rewards system, so do not give them anything positive if you want them to stop laying on your feet.

Not giving them attention also means not punishing them. If you scold your dog for laying on top of your feet, they might mistake it for attention, so it’s better to ignore them instead.

Train Your Dog

It is a good idea to train your dog to stay off your feet and move somewhere else if they enjoy doing it for comfort or attention.

Training basic commands with words like “no”, “off”, “stop” should be taught to them. When teaching basic dog commands, take note that dogs learn based on rewards.

Your rewards here will be a marker word like “good” together with treats. 

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Say the marker word then offer them a treat. Repeat this until they understand that the word is associated with a reward.

Wait for your dog to get off your feet. You may do something to drive this behavior, such as moving your feet.

Once they do the command, say the command word immediately and then the marker word, then gives them a treat.

Repeat this a few times until you say the command word first and they obey every time. 

My Dog Does Not Lay on My Feet

Now that you’ve read all the possible reasons why dogs lay on their owners’ feet, you might be wondering why they do not do it to you.

Does this mean your dog does not bother gathering information about you? Do they not want to protect you? Do they not want affection? These questions are probably on your mind.

Every dog expresses their affection toward their owners in their own ways, and maybe laying on your feet isn’t one of them. 

Instead of laying on your feet, your dog probably shows affection by hugging you, playing frisbee with you, or snuggling on the couch with you. 

Your dog may even enjoy your company while not being in close contact with you! 

Appreciate the fact that your large dog does not enjoy laying on your feet. Chances are, you wouldn’t either!

Why a dog lays on your feet

FAQ Dog Behaviors

What Does it Mean When a Dog Licks Your Feet?

While some dogs enjoy laying on their owner’s feet, others like licking their feet. It feels weird and tickly, but your dog could be sending you a message when they do this.

They may be doing this to show affection and respect. Our feet are the most accessible parts of our body, so they lick them the most.

Sometimes, it’s only because your feet taste great because of your sweat. They also like gathering information about you.

Don’t worry if your dog does this all the time. Find out why your dog is licking your feet so you can address their needs or respond to their message!

Why Does My Dog Always Touch Me?

If your dog likes touching you, then they are probably just being affectionate or attention-seeking. 

Most of the time, they want to get you to do something. They may be asking for a belly rub, bathroom break, playtime, or treats.

This is perfectly normal as dogs naturally seek validation from us. 

Dogs may also touch you all the time to protect you. This means they want to keep you safe and secure, especially when you are sleeping.

Learn all the other possible reasons why dogs like to touch you so you’ll know whether to encourage the behavior or not.

Is Dog Laying on Your Feet a Sign of Separation Anxiety?

Dogs can lay on your feet due to separation anxiety. They try to be as close to you as possible and restrict your movement because they do not want you to be away.

This is probably the reason why they lay on your feet when they do it right before you leave for work. 

Separation anxiety affects a lot of dogs, specifically 14%. It is often misunderstood and mishandled because owners approach the issue from their point of view instead of the dog’s.

Learn how to stop your dog’s separation anxiety so you can get rid of their anxious bad behavior. 

Learn Your Dog’s Body Language!

It’s normal for dogs to have weird behaviors, like laying on your feet, always touching you, or even licking your feet. 

Dogs like using their paws, nose, and tongue to seek attention, show affection, ask for playtime, or ask for a bathroom break. 

They do all this because they are incapable of talking and have limited vocal abilities. 

Learn your dog’s body language to understand what they want to tell you when they do weird behaviors.

Start by understanding why your dog licks your face. Is licking your face the equivalent of a kiss? We’ll share everything you need to know!