Why Do Dogs Lay On Your Feet?

Many dogs sleep on their owner’s feet, and if you’re a curious dog owner, you might have asked yourself, “Why do dogs lay on your feet?”.

In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know.

Read on!

Why Do Dogs Lay On Your Feet? – The Reason

grey dog lays on human feet

Why do dogs sit or lay on your feet?

Your dog might like to lay or sit on your feet for various reasons.

Let’s look at a few of the major causes:

Showing Love 

Your dog may decide to lay or sit on your feet to express affection, which is normal.

It resembles sitting down next to a friend or loved one.

Some puppies will take their place directly on top of your feet if they prefer to remain on the floor rather than leaping up onto the couch or into your chair to sit next to you.

If your floors are carpeted, and the carpet has a different texture than the couch, it can also behave in this manner.

The dog lies down or sits on or by its feet whenever the owner sits down.

That is an indication of the strong relationship you have with your dog.


Your dog can decide to sit or lie down on your feet occasionally if they are scared or anxious.

If your dog doesn’t usually sit on your feet but starts doing so, take a moment to observe their body language:

  • Are they showing signs of anxiety and stress?

  • Is their head lowered? Is their tail dangling or tucked from under them?

  • Are their ears drawn back?

Dogs with separation anxiety may also sit or lie on their owners’ feet.

Separation anxiety affects a portion of the pup population.

Not all puppies who are separated from their owners display this attitude.

Most dogs who do so probably feel comfort in being near their owners.

You might be able to stay close to yourself by standing up while sitting.

Some dogs alert you about a health problem.

Learned Behavior

Dogs learn that particular actions result in specific reactions, so if they receive positive reinforcement from you when they sit at your feet, they are more likely to repeat the behavior.

Your pup may have picked up from you that you chat to or pet him behind the ears when he sits on your feet.

You can also rub his belly if he lies on his back at your feet.

The pup will subsequently start to connect lying or sitting on your feet with good things.

This encouraging feedback sustains your dog’s behavior.

One thing that surprised us was that adult dogs behaved similarly to human children toward their caregivers.


Pack behavior is still inherent even if your pet was raised as an only child and has never been around other doggies.

All canines being social creatures, are still frequently forced to act as they would if they were on a pack outing.

While there are many more explanations for why your dog chooses to lay at your feet, they are all related to this pack instinct.

Doggies naturally know it is best to stick close to their owner in various circumstances.

When you watch dog packs, you can quickly see how this behavior is reflected in them.

There are many other reasons that can be attributed to instinct.

Needs More Attention

What if you already give your dog lots of attention but still observe it acting in an attention-seeking manner?

Some dogs can develop excessive neediness, which can be challenging as pup parents also need some alone time.

You might want to lay down occasionally without a dog on top of you.


You are considered the pack’s defender because you are the pack leader.

Whether or not your dog is uneasy, it’s usual for dogs to want to stay as near the pack leader as they can for protection.

Even dogs who are not insecure will do this, as insecure dogs are likely never to leave your side.

It could start when they hear noises outside, meet new people in your home, smell something different, or pretty much anything else they are not used to.

Your dog will strive to come as near you as possible and look to you for safety.

Territorial Behavior

two dogs aggressiv

Your dog may attempt to define their territory when they lie near you.

It serves as a reminder to follow their leader with caution to other dogs or even people.

When you walk, your dog will reveal this at home and outside.

If your dog’s behavior of aggressive, when a human or some other dog approaches you, you may usually assume that they are engaging in this behavior.

Both you and your dog believe that they are the owners of the other.


Your dog may display respect and obedience by lying down at your feet.

You’ve probably heard the dog myth that if a dog sits or lies on top of your feet, he’s attempting to dominate you.

That is an indication of the strong relationship you have with your dog.

However, it might also be a submission for dominance.

Seeking Warmth

If your dog curls up next to you, it could be because they are cold.

Even if it’s only your feet, the body heat you can provide them with will help keep them warm.

If this is their cause, they’ll probably try to get as close as they can, nuzzling and moving about a lot while settling down to acquire as much skin contact as possible.

golden retriver with scarf

Smaller breeds are particularly prone to this because it is much harder to keep their body temperatures stable in the cold.

Know Your Whereabouts

Dogs may prefer to sleep at their owners’ feet because they greatly desire assurance as a protective role.

Dogs seek their owners’ presence for security, staying by their sides and attempting to avoid being separated from them.

Dogs also look for their owner’s whereabouts while exploring or when they need assurance.

What does this imply for dogs curled up at their owners’ feet?

It can be inferred that dogs who sleep by their owners’ feet do so because dogs feel safe in their company.

When dogs stay close to their humans, they experience a sense of safety.

Should I Allow This Habit?

Allowing your dog to sit on your feet shows your love and support for him.

Regardless of whether he is doing so out of concern for his safety, because he is chilly, or because he wants to mark you as his territory.

hands pet dogs head

Allowing this behavior is a method to reassure your dog that you are there to protect and show your dog that you care about him. 

Dogs depend on their owners to take care of their basic requirements, such as giving them food and a secure place to live.

He knows he is an essential part of your life and that you care about his safety and comfort when he may lie at your feet during times of stress or loneliness.

You can train your dog using several methods, such as instructing him to remain away from you when you sit and throw rewards at him from a distance.

Use love and positivism whenever you train your dog, regardless of your selected approach.

Never shout at your dog or put them in a stressful or fearful situation.

The Root Of The Behavior

Their ‘pack’ instincts primarily bring on this behavior in dogs.

Domesticated dogs are still capable of displaying these tendencies.

Domestic dogs raised in the wild sleep close to one another and live in packs to keep warm and defend the pack leader.

They lay at your feet or sleep at the foot of your bed because of these inclinations, partly motivated by the leader’s better sleeping arrangement.

You are regarded as the pack’s alpha dog.

Puppies sleep tightly together, as you can see, primarily for warmth because they are so young.

You can see additional causes for this behavior if you examine it more deeply.

Some dogs prefer to sleep in colder settings, like the ground beneath your feet.

Another indication that they require assurance or are afraid of something is when they sleep by your foot.

Another indication of a subservient dog is this.

Your dog can feel the need to guard or protect you.

When you are at home, and your dog is experiencing anxiety, he might lie down at your feet to let you know you are close by.

Dogs may also sit or lie down on their feet to show other puppies their territory.

Encouraging The Behavior

little dog on human

Even if your dog-napping or lying at your feet isn’t always considered poor behavior or a bad habit, it can be an inconvenience if your dog is constantly “underfoot.”

Let it be if you are comfortable with this kind of behavior.

In any case, dog hugs are the best.

However, some training suggestions from certified dog trainers to promote more appropriate conduct if your dog’s behavior of lying on or at your feet is not desired.

Avoid petting your dog while he is lying on your feet.

That will serve to reinforce the conduct.

When your dog behaves in this way, ignore him.

Dogs tend to sit or lie away; throwing a treat a little bit distant from you and teaching your dog to lie in that spot when he receives it will lead him to sit farther away.

When he lies farther away from you, encourage him by complimenting him.

Teach your dog to say “lay” or “lie down.”

Show him the precise location where you want him to lie.

Give him a treat and some praise if he follows instructions precisely.

The key to successful dog training is consistency.

Could you not give in to him too quickly?

Before you know it, he’ll have figured out how to lie farther away from you.

pug between human feet

How To Discourage Your Dog From Sitting At Your Feet

There are certain things you can do to prevent your dog from sitting at your feet if you decide that you no longer want such behavior.

First, avoid rewarding them in any way while they act this way.

When they sit at your feet, you give them a lovely scratch behind the ears or another form of reward or affection.

Instead, it would be best if you nudged them away from your feet and toward a more suitable area.

If you suspect they are cuddling up for warmth, it is a good idea to have a suitable space ready, such as a comfortable bed.

You can reward them if they move from your feet to the bed.

Because your dog is sitting on your feet near you, be sure to put the bed close to you.

They will see being banished to another room as punishment for perfectly normal behavior.

Give positive reinforcement and praise when he does lie down farther away from you.

Before You Go…

Now you know the answer to the question, “Why do dogs lay on your feet?”.

If you want to learn more, read the following articles too!

Or watch this video:

Mena Emad, DVM
Mena has a Bachelor’s degree in veterinary medicine. His expertise, passion for animal welfare, extensive knowledge, and experience in the field of veterinary medicine make him an excellent resource for our readers.