Why Does My Dog Sleep at My Feet?

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Photo by BRUNO CERVERA on Unsplash

Dogs are sleepyheads, they would use any given opportunity to catch some forty winks. There are certain breeds that sleep more than the others, such as the Bulldog, Shih Tzu, and Mastiff.

Like most of their human parents, canines also have some weird behaviors when they snooze. One of those is sleeping at their human’s feet. We’ll help you understand why doggies do that so you’ll know what to do next time.

Decoding Your Dog’s Behavior

Reading a dog’s behavior is like learning a foreign language. It is never an easy or enjoyable feat, especially if you are doing it for the first time. Like studying a new language, decoding the “doggie language” entails observing for gestures.

There are many reasons why your dog enjoys sleeping at your feet, and you need to use your judgment to identify the real cause behind that behavior. Here are the five possible reasons why a dog would nap at his owner’s feet:

  1. He is expressing his love for you.
  2. He has a possessive behavior.
  3. He is anxious towards something/someone.
  4. He cannot find a comfortable sleeping location.
  5. He is trying to protect you, as the leader of the pack.

He Is Expressing His Love For You

“Does my dog love me?” This is a question many dog owners often ask. What makes doggies a man’s best friend is the fact that they are capable of expressing their love towards us.

When you are a new dog parent, it can be difficult to say if your puppy loves you. You probably need a little more time for bonding. The easiest way to tell if your dog loves you is that he follows you everywhere you go. He loves your scent and he actually smells you more than you realize.

Canines show their love in many ways. The most common ones are licking, tail-wagging, and jumping on their owners. When it comes to tail-wagging, a certain study even suggests that dogs wag their tails more to the right when they are with someone they like.

Would you believe that there is scientific proof that your dog loves you? This has something to do with their sense of smell. Anyone who owns a dog knows their pets navigate the world through their noses.

A study by the GE Scientists and Mic revealed that not only do our pets seem to love us back, but they also see us as a part of their family. According to the canine neuro-imaging study, your scent sparks activation in the “reward center” part of your pet’s mind.

When your fur baby sleeps at your feet, he is somehow expressing his love for you. Yes, canines cannot demonstrate love the way we do, but they still have a way of showing it. One of their ways of displaying their affection is by reclining on humans. The leaning is synonymous to a full body hug in dog language.

Indeed, domesticated dogs are capable of love and they release oxytocin, a love hormone, during intimate situations. No wonder dogs are called man’s best friend!

He Has a Possessive Behavior

Dealing with a pup’s clingy behavior is not a far cry from dealing with a human child’s separation anxieties. It can be heartbreaking to ignore your pet when he approaches you asking for cuddles and attention. It is even more difficult to leave him with other people, especially if he is a Velcro dog who is deeply attached to you.

Naturally, dogs can be territorial to a certain degree. That is one of their traits that bring them closer to humans. Because of their protective attitude, it is normal for them to growl when an unfamiliar person comes near you or them.

Sometimes, that aggression could come from jealousy. It is normal for him to demand your total attention and love. Somehow, it is your dog’s way of expressing that you are his territory.

Is possessiveness normal to dogs? Yes, most of them cannot help but growl when a stranger comes close to their owners. While this gesture seems like a positive thing because it looks like he is protecting you, it can actually signal an unfavorable relationship between you and your pet.

Overly protective dogs are insecure and unpredictable. Aggression is a problematic canine behavior and people should not take lightly. When dealing with an insecure dog, it matters to first recognize the signs of insecurity. This is the most important thing to consider when dealing with a jealous or a possessive dog.

He Is Anxious Towards Something/Someone

Fear is another possible reason why your pet sleeps at your feet. He might be disturbed by something and is sleeping there because he is looking for comfort from you.

If he lays or sits on you when you come home, it is his way of telling you that he missed you or he does not want to be left alone. Separation anxiety mostly happens to adopted dogs or those with experiences of abandonment.

Just like humans, our pets can develop social anxiety, with young dogs even developing habitual fears when they are not exposed to the outside world.

These are the signs of anxiety in dogs:

  • Reduced activity
  • Panic
  • Withdrawal
  • Hiding
  • Passive Escape Behaviors

Does your pooch display these gestures? It would help to understand where that fear is coming from. There are so many reasons for canine fear and traumatic experiences and abuse are the leading reasons for it. Sometimes, the fright can also come from lack of socialization.

Presuming you just adopted a dog and he often sleeps at your feet, try to find out if he had been abused in the past. Supposing that this is the case, work on developing your newly-found relationship. You need to establish a level of trust to get rid of that anxiousness.

He Cannot Find a Comfortable Sleeping Location

Many domesticated dogs tuck up in bed with their owners. If he normally sleeps in your bed and you suddenly changed his sleeping location, you might find him napping at your feet. He might feel safe and secure sleeping near you. When the dog only sleeps on the ground, it is possible he sleeps at your feet because he is not comfortable with the cold and hard floor anymore.

If you think the problem is just because he cannot find a cozy sleeping place, consider a dog bed. Giving your pet his own bed could be a way to keep him from sleeping at your feet.

Drs. Foster and Smith highlight the importance of giving dogs their own beds. According to them, dog beds provide insulation, privacy, and comfort among other things. There are several types of bed, and here are the best ones for your pooch:

Cushion dog bed – the standard dog bed can be put in your pet’s crate or anywhere in your house. History tells us that the first beds can be traced back to the 18th century. Dogs were allowed to sleep with their masters on a cushion designed especially for them. Nowadays, you can see basic classic beds in different shapes and sizes, from round to rectangular. This one is a must-have for doggies that like sprawling out.

Orthopedic bed – if your pooch is suffering from joint pain or he is too old, it would help to give him a mattress type of bed that offers great support. An orthopedic bed for dogs is the ideal type of bed for him as it offers optimum comfort. However, this is more expensive than a typical dog bed so it is best to compare products to be sure you get the value for your money. In buying an orthopedic dog bed, choose one that is durable enough to stand wear and tear.

Bolster bed – this is the best option for puppies that enjoy reclining against humans for security. Bolster beds are also perfect for large dog breeds like the English Mastiff, Caucasian shepherd dog, and Komondor. A bolster bed is ideal for pets that prefer their head to be elevated when they nap.

Outdoor cot – if your dog is not fond of napping indoors, you may consider buying him a cot. Just make sure it is well-elevated so your pet will not feel the hot or cold ground outside. Since it is usually placed outdoors, it can get soiled fast. Given that, consider an outdoor cot made from waterproof fabric as it allows for an easier cleaning.

Heated dog bed – a warm and a cozy bed is a refreshing take from a cold hard floor. A heated bed is ideal for them that cannot tolerate cold temperatures. Most of the time, these dogs are the ones with health issues. Heated dog beds are also recommended for senior them because they help soothe the pets’ painful joints.

Dog couch – there is a couch specifically designed for puppy that take snoozing seriously. The couch is large enough so it can accommodate even large dog breeds. It is an ideal resting place after a long walk. There are certain brands of dog couches that make them using orthopedic foam for the ultimate comfort.

Smart pet bed – yes, you read that right. There is already a smart bed specially made for doggies! The Smart Pet Bed was launched by the pet health tech company Petrics. The bed is equipped with a system that monitors your pet’s health. Comfort-wise, the bed allows dog to sleep at his desired temperature because it has a thermostatic climate control feature.

We all have different views about where to let dog sleep. While most of us prefer buying them their own beds, there are still some of us who sleep next to our puppy. If you think your pet does it just because he misses you, why not let him sleep in the bed with you? Many domesticated dogs these days are allowed to sleep next to their owners, right in the bed.

He Is Trying to Protect You as the Leader of the Pack

Doggies sleep at the feet of their owners because they love to be close to them. If your dog is quite obsessed with taking a nap at your tootsies, he actually sees you as the leader of his herd.

Is the pack leader thing even true? In a study led by The Veeramah Lab at the Stony Brook University, it was revealed that dogs descended from wolves. The study was based on the prehistoric fossils discovered in Germany back in 2010. The discovery further suggests that our modern-day dogs came from a population of wolves that lived around 40,000 years ago.

The wolf pack is basically just another term for a family of wolves. This is not really a big deal to most owners, although there are some pet owners who dream of being that “alpha” in their dog’s eyes.

You are one lucky dog owner if your pet sees you as the pack leader. That means you already gained his trust, loyalty, and respect. His instinct is that you are strong enough to lead him. Dogs can sense whether someone is concerned for the pack or not, and that is their way of selecting their pack leaders.

Conclusion

There are several reasons why your dog sleeps at your feet. Whatever it is, don’t try to push him away. If he is seeking your attention, he will only try harder to get some of your affection. Rather than pushing him away when he sleeps at your feet, exert an effort to express “I love you” back.

Most of the time, dogs do that to demonstrate their affection towards their owners. Appreciate that, because not all pet owners are lucky enough to have a loving pooch that sees his human as the leader of the herd. Even if you’re not seen as the leader of the pack, it is still a great thing that your dog is expressing his love for you.

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