You may wind down in your favorite comfy chair or on the sofa to catch up on reading or watch the latest TV show when you may find that your dog has also settled down—on your feet!
While this may feel nice and cozy, there are instinctual reasons behind why our dogs do what they do, including laying on our feet.
Our dogs’ behaviors and actions are rooted in history and tell us a lot about what they are thinking and feeling at any given time.
So if you happen to be wondering, “Why does my dog lay on my feet?”, there’s more than one reason for it, including showing you its love, devotion, and respect. It could also be its way of communicating with you.
Here we delve into some of the top reasons your dog lays on your feet.
The Dog Pack Instinct
Your pet’s ancestors were wild pack animals. Even today, wild dogs still travel in packs.
So it’s only natural and instinctual that our domesticated dogs—despite never having spent a day in the wild—still have those innate pack traits.
When wild dogs stop to rest, the alpha or the pack leader chooses the resting spot. The other pack members will gather around the area for safety and warmth.
The habit of laying on your feet could be ingrained in your dog’s DNA, too. Since it respects you, it considers you its alpha or pack leader and may lay on your feet once you’ve found your resting spot. This conveys that it looks up to you and wants to show its respect and devotion.
Dogs consider their owners as their pack leaders, so they have complete faith in us.
They trust that we will look after them and protect them when needed. So when they feel uncomfortable or nervous in a situation, they will keep close and lay on their feet seeking protection.
As its pack leader, your dog believes that you will keep it safe from all harm. This behavior is common in dogs in a new or unfamiliar situation. Submissive pups and dogs do this often, even daily.
Moreover, sleeping is a vulnerable time for dogs as they are mostly unaware of what is happening around them. Laying on your feet helps your dog feel safe while it sleeps and can give it the comfort that it needs to get rest.
Marking Their Territory
If you have other dogs or pets at home, one of your dogs may lay on your feet to assert its closeness with you and mark its territory.
This is its way of showing the other pets that you’re its pack leader and they need to stay away from you.
If your dog does not growl or show any other signs of aggression while doing this, it is perfectly fine. However, if its possessiveness is accompanied by aggression, you need to consult a dog trainer to reverse this kind of behavior.
You may find your furry friend clinging closer and laying on your feet during winters.
It could just be cold and is cuddling for warmth. Just as huddling with your friends on a cold winter day keeps you warmer than being alone, your dog, too, may lay on your feet on chilly nights for your body heat.
This behavior can also be linked to its ingrained pack behavior. In the winters, wild dogs huddle around their leader for warmth.
Some breeds need more warmth than others. Smaller ones such as chihuahuas and toy poodles have less body fat to keep them warm. Dogs with short coats, too, feel the cold much quicker than their thick-coated counterparts. Laying on your feet helps them find the warmth and comfort they need.
Showing Their Love
Just as human beings like to sit close to a friend or loved one, dogs lay on their owners’ feet to show their love and affection.
Our furry friends adore us and think of us as their whole world. So they simply wish to be near us as much as they can. Laying on our feet is one way that they can be close to us.
Dogs are also sensitive to how their owners feel. They get used to their movements and emotions by living with them every day. So if we are feeling sad, anxious, or depressed, our dogs can sense it.
You may have noticed that your dog becomes alert and worried when you are upset or crying. There is a change in its body language, and it only focuses on what you are doing.
So if you find your pet laying on your feet when you are feeling down in the dumps, it could just be its way of telling you that it’s there for you.
Why does my dog lay on my feet?
There are many reasons, such as a dog’s instinctual pack traits, need for warmth and protection, marking territory, and showing its love and devotion.
This behavior is not usually a cause of concern and is perfectly acceptable—enjoyable, even. It can be a great point of bonding between you and your beloved pet.
However, it may be worrying if your dog shows signs of aggression, such as growling while laying on your feet. If it does, seek the help of a dog trainer or an animal behaviorist to understand the causes and help you modify this behavior.
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Dan is a well respected content researcher who has vast experience working projects in the pets niche. He is a frequent contributor to dogtemperament.com and loves delivering numerous helpful dog articles like this one that are read by thousands of our readers monthly.