Why Does My Dog Sit On My Feet?

Aaron Rice Expert Dog Trainer
Written: January 17, 2022

Does your dog love to snuggle up to your feet every chance they get? It’s a common trait amongst dogs and their pet-parents, but it may leave you wondering why your dog displays this adorable but seemingly bizarre behavior. 

In my many years as a dog trainer, I’ve heard lots of people assume that if their dog is trying to sit on them or their feet, it’s a sign their pup is trying to dominate them. I would like to emphatically declare this theory false! 

Many dogs form an unbreakable bond with their pet-parent, following them everywhere they go and showering them with unconditional love. Wherever you sit, your dog wants to be near you and may sit down on or by your feet. You can view this as a strong representation of the connection you share with your dog. 

There are several other reasons your dog cozies up to your feet, and some of them may surprise you. Here is everything you need to know about your dog’s tendency to favor your feet. 

It’s Instinctive!

All breeds of domesticated dogs have wild ancestors. Yes, even your 8lb chihuahua that loves sitting on pillows and snuggling under blankets has an ancestor who lived in the wild. 

Though your pup may be as domesticated as they come, they still carry instinctive traits from their wild ancestors. 

Dogs typically traveled in packs in the wild. When the leader, or Alpha, chose a spot to rest, the group would huddle around him for warmth and protection. 
As the Alpha of your home, your dog views you as the leader of the pack. So when you settle in, your dog may desire to come rest by your feet not only for warmth and protection but as a way to show respect and devotion. 

While your dog may love showing you all the ways they’re devoted to you, that’s not the only instinct urging your dog to stay close by your side. 

Your Furry Bodyguard

Another instinctive trait your dog might be exhibiting is the need to protect you, the leader of their pack.

If your dog is staying close to your feet, take a look around.

Are you in a public place with a lot of people? At a new park? Is there a loud construction zone nearby?

If your dog is uncertain about their surroundings, they may want to stay close to you for protection, both yours and theirs. 

Conversely, if your dog cozies up to your feet while you’re sitting on the couch having a nap, they may still be standing guard.

It’s a primal urge for your dog to watch over you, aka the pack leader, when your guard is down. 

Whether it’s to save you from a vicious pack of wolves or the doorbell ringing, your furry best friend sees it has his or her job to protect you.

And if you think that this won’t hold true for your 15lb pug, think again. Ironically, small dogs can be particularly protective. The tinier the bite, the mightier the fight! 

That being said, not every dog is as vigilant as the next, and some may have another reason for desiring to be on or near your feet. 

You’re the Bodyguard!

Certain situations may cause your dog to sit or lie down on your feet. If your dog is feeling anxious or afraid, they will want to be near you for their own protection. 

As the leader of the pack, you represent safety. If the thunder is clamoring outside, or your neighbor is having a tree trimmed, the loud noises could be unsettling to your dog. 

If your dog doesn’t normally sit on your feet and suddenly exhibits this behavior, take a moment to assess their body language:

  • Are they exhibiting signs of distress, such as excessive panting or drooling? 
  • Is their head lowered? Their ears pulled back?
  • Is their tail tucked between their hind legs? 

Some dogs are more fearful than others. Pay attention to the triggers that alarm your pet. They may want to be nearer to you during these times. Does your dog fear loud noises? The veterinarian? I have to pick my dog up and carry her into the vet’s office every time we go. She won’t even walk through the door! 

Your dog could have other anxiety or fear-inducing triggers that you may not anticipate, such as children, strangers, or dogs that make them uncomfortable. Notice your dog’s body language in these situations, and be mindful of caring for their needs. Don’t force your dog to socialize with an animal or person in whom they clearly have zero interest. 
During times of stress, your dog may prefer to be near you. This is because simply maintaining contact with you gives them a greater sense of confidence and safety. Sitting on your feet may be their way of remaining close and, therefore, feeling safe. 

It’s akin to a child wanting to hold your hand or be held when they’re scared. You wouldn’t deny your child comfort, so don’t feel like you need to deny your dog. 

Remember, you are the Alpha, and it’s your responsibility to protect your pack!

Learned Behavior

Dogs are smart, especially when it comes to learning how to get your attention. They may have learned that by sitting or lying on your feet, they are more likely to grab the spotlight. 

If every time your dog sits on your feet, you rub their ears or give them pets, they’re getting positive reinforcement to continue the behavior. 

If you don’t want your dog to sit on your feet, eliminate the positive reinforcement with a replacement behavior. A nice cozy bed next to your feet could do the trick. 

For Warmth

In chilly months, your dog may want to snuggle close to you for warmth. Some dogs, like Shih Tzus, were even bred as royal lap dogs to guard and keep them warm. 

If your dog isn’t allowed on your furniture, they will likely want to be near your feet as a way to absorb your heat. This is especially true for companion dogs. 

If the weather has turned and your dog is suddenly very interested in being near or on your feet, it could be that they’re seeking to share in your warmth. 

My advice? Enjoy the extra time together and snuggle in close to your furry loved one!

Showing You Love

Last but certainly not least, your dog may enjoy sitting on your feet simply because they love you. Many dogs enjoy being near their pet-parent and the easiest way for them to show affection is to sit on or near your feet.

Some dogs may prefer to remain on the floor than to sit on or next to you. This could be because they prefer the texture of the floor or carpet to that of the sofa. And if you have a large dog, you might thank your lucky stars for it! 

Other dogs may want to be prepared to follow you at a moment’s notice. In this vein, they will remain close to your feet in an effort to be vigilant to your every move. 

It could be that your dog finds it comforting to have this physical contact. Simply being near you and feeling your body (or feet) on their fur provides some dogs with a great sense of relaxation and peace. 

No matter the reason, your dog will still want to show you how much they love you, and sitting on your feet might just be the best way they know. 

What If Your Dog Doesn’t Sit On Your Feet?

Every canine friend is unique and expresses themself in their own way, not unlike we two-legged types. 

Your dog might not be the cuddly, touchy-feely type, and that is perfectly okay. We all have that one friend who doesn’t like to hug. It doesn’t make them any less loving or lovable. In fact, that friend probably shows their love in a myriad of other ways, and it’s the same with your pup. 

Does your dog always bring you their favorite toy or greet you at the door when you come home? Does your dog insist on following you from room to room? Just because they don’t want to snuggle or lie on your feet doesn’t mean they don’t love you or have the instinct to guard you. 

A great way to think about it is that different dogs have different love languages. Some dogs may show affection through touch and others through play. 

Whatever way your dog shows their love for you, soak it up and enjoy. The love of a dog is unlike any other. Bask in the oddity of their unique quirks and personality traits.