Have you ever been sitting on the couch reading a book or watching television when your canine companion suddenly curls up and lays down on your feet? While your dog’s body may keep your tootsies warm and cozy, this behavior can be annoying for some pet parents.
Is your dog being needy? Is he scared? Is this submissive behavior? Here, we’ll discuss all of the reasons why your dog lays on your feet and some ways to correct this habit.
The 4 main reasons dogs lay on your feet are:
1. Natural Instincts
Your pooch’s wild ancestors were pack animals. Your domesticated dog, even a seven-pound Toy Poodle who has never spent a day in the woods, still possesses some innate pack traits.
Wild canines will often stop to rest after a long day of roaming or hunting. This resting spot will be chosen by the alpha, or leader, of the pack. The other dogs will huddle around for warmth and safety.
When your dog lays on your feet, he’s showing you that he thinks you’re his leader. He feels comfortable and protected in your presence.
If you live in a multi-dog household, one of your pups may lay on your feet to lay his claim over you. This is his way of telling the other dogs that you’re his leader and that they need to stay far away.
If your dog doesn’t display any signs of aggression, this can be acceptable behavior. However, if his possessiveness is accompanied by growling, you may need to seek the help of a qualified trainer.
3. Displaying Dominance
Has your small dog ever hopped up onto your lap? Has he perched on your feet? While you may believe that your pint-sized pooch is simply looking to cuddle, he may actually be trying to tell you that he’s the boss and you’re his property.
By sitting on either your lap or your feet, your little dog will feel larger and more in charge.
4. Protecting the Pack
Does your dog lay on your feet when you have friends or family over? He may be protecting you from unwanted outsiders. By laying on your feet, your pet is putting himself between you and any potential threats.
If your dog’s protective ways are leading to acts of aggression, contact a dog trainer right away. Your dog could potentially nip or bite somebody.
Stopping the Behavior
If your dog’s habit of laying on your feet is becoming a nuisance, there are several ways to put an end to the behavior. For starters, never encourage or reward your pet for this behavior. Never pet or cuddle him when he’s lying on your feet/ If you reward him, you’ll show your dog that this behavior is perfectly acceptable.
Whenever your pup tries to curl up on your feet, immediately move your feet out from under him. Ignore him until he moves away.
You can also train your dog to sleep in an area far away from you. Put his dog bed on the opposite of the room and give him a high-value treat every time he lays on it. This will teach him to start associating his bed with a reward.
If your dog’s foot laying is accompanied by aggression, contact a qualified dog trainer. This will ensure you’re not putting yourself, your pet, or other people in harm’s way.
While some pet parents may welcome the behavior, others may not appreciate their dog laying on their feet. Whether your pooch is displaying his devotion or trying to show dominance, you can stop the behavior by ignoring it. If your dog growls when he’s lying on your feet, seek professional help as soon as possible.
Featured image credit: AnnyStudio, Shutterstock