Why Do Dogs Lay on Your Feet? · The Wildest

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Why Do Dogs Lay on Your Feet?

Not that anyone’s complaining...

by Savannah Admire | expert review by Danielle Vrabel, CPDT-KA
September 29, 2023
Black spaniel dog laying at her owners feet under the chair indoors.
Vadym Drobot / Alamy Stock Photo

One of the best feelings in the world is your dog snuggling up to you, whether you’re relaxing watching TV or stretched out in bed. But sometimes dogs seem more interested in cozying up to your feet instead of settling in for pets. Should you be worried if your pup settles all their weight on your feet?

The short answer: no. It’s perfectly normal for dogs to lay on their human parents’ feet for a number of reasons, some of which go all the way back to their wolf ancestry. Your dog may be feeling nervous, acting affectionate, or simply trying to steal some of your warmth. The Wildest answers the question “Why does a dog sit on your foot?” and whether this behavior is ever a cause for concern. 

Five Reasons Your Dog Lays at Your Feet

Dogs are pack animals, and snuggling up to members of their pack (e.g., you) is normal behavior, although there are many reasons dogs sleep at your feet, from a sense of emotional connection to a bid for comfort. Dogs like to stay as close as possible to their loved ones, and research shows that they see their parents in the same way a human child does. That’s right, your dog definitely thinks of you as Mom or Dad — someone who provides love, shelter, and (maybe most importantly) food. 

So, why do dogs like to lay on your feet? Below are the five most common reasons for this behavior. 

Affection 

Humans sometimes show affection by snuggling up, and your dog may be doing the same thing. Dogs have evolved over time to have higher levels of oxytocin (known as the “love hormone”), which encourages bonding and can be released during physical closeness. In short, your dog is genetically predisposed to bond with you and feel affection toward you. 

Security

Your dog likely feels safe around you, which they may demonstrate by sitting on your feet and gazing up at you with those big, adoring eyes. Because they feel secure and comfortable around you, they’re more able to relax and may do so by laying on your feet. It’s your dog’s way of saying, “This is my special person.”

Warmth

As charming as dogs can be when they’re feeling affectionate, sometimes they lay on your feet simply to take advantage of your body heat. Compared to other animals, dogs don’t have as much body fat to keep them warm, and their bodies radiate heat more quickly than those of humans. While your dog certainly loves you, they may also lay on your feet to use you as a convenient heating pad. If you notice your dog shivering regularly in the colder months, consider buying them a jacket or sweater.  

Dominance

In some cases, dogs sit or lay on their human parents’ feet to show exactly who’s in charge or to let everyone else know that you belong to them. If your dog has a tendency toward showing a bit of an attitude, they may lay on your feet as a sign of dominance. 

Resource guarding

Dogs have an innate instinct to protect their resources that goes back to their wild ancestors. For modern dogs, this can translate to guarding their resources (aka you) from other pets or family members. Usually, this behavior is accompanied by defensive actions like growling, snapping, or even lunging at anyone who comes near, so watch out for signs of aggression. 

Do dogs lay on your feet to claim territory?

Why do dogs put their head on your feet? Part of the pack mentality is protecting other members of the pack, so your dog may lay on your feet to guard you and claim you as theirs. If your dog sits on your feet in public spaces, like the local park, this could definitely be a sign of your dog marking territory. Fortunately, this behavior isn’t really an issue unless you have multiple dogs in your home. If your pups fight over who gets to sit closest to you or lay on your feet, you may need to consult a dog behaviorist to avoid aggression leading to injury. 

Should I encourage or discourage this behavior?

In most cases, your dog snuggling up to your feet is a sign of affection and trust, not a cause for concern. Enjoy the coziness of your dog sitting on your feet and recognize it as a sign of how deep your bond really is. 

However, if your dog is always underfoot, this behavior can become a bit of a nuisance. You can use positive reinforcement to discourage your dog from sitting or laying on your feet and train them to sit a little farther away with the use of treats and praise. 

What does it mean if my dog sleeps at my feet? 

Laying on your feet is one thing, but why do dogs sleep at your feet? If your dog sleeps at your feet in bed at night, they’re likely seeking support and comfort from your presence. Or they’re trying to soak up your body heat to stay warm. Either way, having a dog snuggled up to you while you sleep can be a heart-warming feeling and a sign that they trust you and feel safe when you’re nearby.  

FAQs (People also ask)

Do dogs lay at anyone’s feet or just their parents’?

Dogs tend to lay at the feet of those they trust deeply and love, so they usually engage in this behavior with their human parents. If your dog spends a lot of time with a family member or friend, like a pet sitter, they may engage in this behavior with that person as well. 

Can this behavior change over time? 

When a dog is new to your home, they may keep their distance until they feel comfortable. Once they become more attached to you, your dog may begin laying on your feet more regularly. And some dogs may simply not show affection in this way or do so only sporadically. 

Should I be concerned if my dog suddenly starts laying on my feet a lot?

If your dog begins laying on your feet more often, they’re most likely growing more attached to you, which is definitely a good sign! However, if your pet also exhibits signs of anxiety or fear, there may be a deeper issue that you should discuss with your vet. 

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Savannah Admire

Savannah Admire is a writer, editor, and pet parent to two dogs and a cat. When she’s not writing, you can find her reading, playing Animal Crossing, or being an obnoxious nerd about her favorite movies and TV shows. She lives in Maryland, where she constantly debates whether or not to get a third dog.

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