Why do dogs sit on your feet?

Why do dogs sit on your feet?
Learn about dogs

Our dogs do lots of weird and wonderful things, and we don’t always know why. For example, plenty of pooches will perch on your feet. But why do dogs sit on your feet?

Many dogs have a habit of sitting on their owner's feet with their back to you, and it's easy to wonder what’s going through their little doggy brains. Is it a cute affectionate gesture towards me, or is there something in it for them?

If you’ve ever wondered why dogs sit on your feet, we’re here to help. Turns out there are a few different reasons why your pooch might slouch on your shoes, so read on to try and figure out which reason best matches your doggo.

Why do dogs sit on your feet?

It’s a source of comfort

We all love to be close to the people we love, and it’s no different for our dogs. Dogs will sit on your feet to be close to you because the physical contact provides them with comfort and reassurance.

This works in reverse too. If you’re unwell or feeling sad, your dog might sit on your feet to try and comfort you. Dogs are very astute at reading and understanding human emotions, and they bond closely with us, so they might be trying to comfort you too.

They’re feeling nervous

If your dog is a little nervous, they might sit on your feet to feel safer because they see you as a source of protection.

A bit like how a shy toddler will sometimes hide behind their parent’s legs if they meet someone new, or hold your hand if they’re scared, your dog might be staying close to you and sitting on your feet because it helps them to feel more comfortable and safe.

If your dog doesn’t always sit on your feet, take a look around and see if there’s anything that could be making them uneasy. Are there strangers or other dogs nearby? Have you heard any loud noises, like fireworks?

You can also check your dog’s body language to see if they’re sitting on you because they’re feeling afraid. For example, a scared dog will have a tense body, their ears might be pressed back, their head held low, and their tail might be tucked between their back legs.

They want to keep you close

Sitting on top of your feet is one way to stop you from moving anywhere in a hurry, so your pup might be perching there to prevent you from moving. Some dogs with separation anxiety also do this to feel safe and make sure that you aren’t leaving.

Just like how your pooch wants to stay close to you to feel more at ease, some dogs sit on your feet to keep you close and reassure themselves that you’re there.

They’re trying to show you that they love you

Sitting on your feet is just one of the many ways your dog could be trying to show you they love you. It can be a bit like a doggy cuddle, and many dogs simply enjoy being close to their favourite humans whether that means sitting beside them or on their lap or feet. It’s perfectly normal for dogs to sit near us, or on us, as a way of showing their love.

But while some dogs might be happy to sit next to you on the couch, others might prefer sitting on your feet. Sitting right next to you or on your lap might be too warm, while being on the floor could be nice and cool.

Your pooch might also find the texture and solid feeling of the floor underneath them more comfortable than a squishy sofa.

Your dog is waiting to follow you

By sitting on your feet, your dog is making sure they’re ready to move as soon as you do. They could be sitting there to make sure they don’t miss out and to make sure they’re ready to follow you the second you get up.

They’re chilly

While your pooch sitting on your feet might keep your toes toasty, your pup might be sitting there to try and keep themselves warm. Huddling up together lets you both share body heat. If your pup doesn’t usually sit on your feet, you might have a cold draft blowing in.

They’re being a bit possessive or protective

Sometimes your dog might see another dog, or even a human, and hurry to sit on your feet and stare at them. If your dog does this, they’re basically showing the newcomer that you are their human.

Sitting on your feet is a very clear signal that the two of you are together. Dogs also have a lot of scent glands on their bottom, so sitting on you might be a way of marking you with their smell to make sure any other dog knows that you already have a dog.

Most pooches are also pretty protective, and because you’re the head of the household, they might be staying close to you to keep an eye out for danger and be ready to protect you.

It’s a surefire way to get a scratch

If your dog sits on your feet, you’re obviously going to notice them. So some dogs might sit on your feet because they’re looking for attention. By perching their posterior on your toes, they’re making their presence known and you’re much more likely to look at them, talk to them, or stroke them if they’re physically close to you.

In many cases, your dog might have learned that sitting on your feet usually gets you to stroke them, so they learn to keep doing it to get more attention.

This makes a lot of sense when a lot of dogs sit on you because they want a bit of comfort, or they’re feeling affectionate. So if you’re wondering why do dogs sit on your feet, it’s probably because they want a snuggle.

It’s in their DNA

Recent studies indicate that the very first domestic dogs might have been more sensitive to Oxytocin, also known as the love hormone. This hormone helps with bonding, so it makes sense that wild dogs with more of this hormone wanted to be close to humans and enjoyed physical affection.

Being human, we obviously liked these cuddly pups and so dogs with this disposition were favoured. Basically, it’s built-in your dog’s DNA to bond with you, which often means they want to be close to you.

Stroking dogs releases Oxytocin in your body, but your dog is also flushed with this hormone when the two of you have a cuddle. Basically, dogs evolved to love us and cuddling is just as positive for your pooch as it is for you.

Although a far cry from their wild ancestors, dogs are still highly social animals with a pack mentality, so it makes sense that they would like to stay close to their loved ones whenever they can.

Do dogs sit on your feet to show dominance?

The idea that dogs lie on your feet to show dominance is a tricky topic still debated amongst canine professionals. Dominant behaviour is often displayed towards other dogs, so lying on your feet could be an act of possessiveness.

However, dogs that are showing dominant behaviour towards humans tend to be a bit more aloof, won’t listen to commands, and often display behaviours like resource guarding.

Sitting on your feet probably isn’t your dog’s way of showing you that they’re the boss. Not least because it puts them in a position physically lower than you, which is usually a submissive signal.

I wouldn’t worry about your dog sitting on your feet being an act of dominance because it is more likely associated with nervousness or just puppy love. But if you are concerned about any changes in your dog’s behaviour, it’s always best to talk to your vet.

Why do dogs sleep at your feet?

Some dogs sit on your feet, others lie across them, and some dogs lie with their head on your feet. No matter the sleeping position, many pups fall asleep when they’re sprawled across your feet.

Dogs are vulnerable while they’re sleeping, so they often stay close to you because they trust you and see you as a source of protection and safety.

Your presence is comforting and reassuring to your dog so they often feel far more relaxed when they’re close to you, and they’re often so chilled out that they drift off. All in all, your dog sleeps at your feet because it’s where they feel safe and loved, and they like to show you a little love too.

What does it mean when dogs sit on your feet?

As you can see, there are loads of different reasons why dogs sit on your feet. But a running theme amongst them all is that a dog sits on your feet because they love you and trust you.

That means whether they’re showing another dog whose human you are, or they’ll looking for a little extra attention, your dog sits on your feet because they love you. How great is that?

Sources
  1. Wolves to dogs: Study finds canine affection for humans linked to oxytocin sensitivity Study Finds, Animals, Psychological, Relationship Studies, September 2017

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