Why Do Dogs Lay on Your Feet?

by Sundays

old dog laying on feet

The truth is there are plenty of reasons why dogs like to nap at our feet, whether they like to just lay their head down or flop their whole body down so you can’t move.

Dogs do some of the cutest things. And they all seem to enjoy the same weird, cute behaviors, too. Like why do all dogs love to lay on your feet?

Is it just instinct that they love being around their favorite people, and our feet are the easiest to snuggle up on? Or maybe it’s your dog’s way of claiming their territory (aka, you) so no other pup can lure you away.

It could be both of these. The truth is there are plenty of reasons why dogs like to nap at our feet, whether they like to just lay their head down or flop their whole body down so you can’t move.

Claiming their person

If you have a sibling, you know how sibling rivalry works. Well, dogs can have that feeling toward other dogs or even cats or people. They might feel the need to lay claim to their property so everyone knows it’s theirs, and yes, you are part of their property, too.

Laying on your feet is one subtle way a dog knows how to show that you belong to them. Take note whether your pup seems to lay on your feet when you’re around other dogs, or you have multiple pets and they tend to “guard” your feet and not let your other pets near.

It might be cute at first, but it can also be a problem if your dog is growling at other pets and people, or if they don’t even let your other pets or friends near you. If it gets out of hand, it might be time to talk to a dog behaviorist to see what you can do.

Snuggling up for cuddles 

The answer could be as simple as the fact that your dog loves you, so they just like being close to you, however they can. Both humans and dogs get a rush of oxytocin, the “love hormone,” from positive interactions with those that are close to them.

Your feet are easy for your dog to access, and if they sleep there, they can be ready to jump up and follow you if you get up and move to another spot. Plus, they may not feel like jumping up onto the couch, or maybe there’s no space on your lap, so they’re perfectly happy snuggling your feet.

Usually a dog lays at the feet of people they trust and feel safe around, so you should feel special if they’ve picked your feet as their personal pillows.

Looking for protection

When kids get scared, they cling to their parents or try to hide behind them. Dogs do the same kind of thing–they’ll come to you for protection when they are scared or nervous. Your dog may push up against you or sit right on top of your feet. 

You’ll know this is the case based on the situation and by other clues that your dog is anxious. For instance, your dog may try to get closer and lay at your feet while at the vet or when visiting a new place. Look for signs of anxiety such as tucking their tail, trembling, panting a lot, or yawning.

It’s in their nature

By nature, dogs are pack creatures, which means they also like to huddle close to each other when they sleep. This keeps them warm and safe. Have you ever seen puppies sleeping? They almost always cuddle up in a pile of cuteness for the same reason. 

So when your adult dog sleeps at your feet, they’re just doing what comes naturally. And if it’s cold, you’ve probably got on some really warm, cozy socks that feel super-nice to lay on. Why wouldn’t your dog want to lay there?

Needing some attention

There are plenty of ways to get someone’s attention. For dogs, one of them is laying on your feet and staring up at you with super-sad eyes like you haven’t pet them in years.

It’s inevitable that if your dog does this, you’ll immediately reach down and pet them and pay them some attention. Basically, they’ve learned that this laying on your feet business works really well, so they’ll keep doing it. 

Experiencing separation anxiety

Separation anxiety in dogs isn’t just another type of anxiety; it can be a serious issue. If your dog seems to cling to you wherever you go, which can include laying on your feet, it could be a sign of separation anxiety. 

This is a specific issue that shows up when your dog is left alone or without their person for a period of time. Watch for other signs, like pawing at the door or window, chewing and destroying furniture, having accidents, excessive barking and howling, and licking and chewing at themselves until they cause sores or hair loss. These signs would all happen when you are away from the home, so the best way to uncover this issue is to get a doggy cam that you can monitor.

If you do see any of these signs, or your dog seems extra-clingy all of the sudden, see your vet. It could be separation anxiety, or your dog could even be in pain from an underlying condition.

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