Me: My dog sleeps at my feet.
Imaginary vet: Aha. So it seems like you have a pair of magnetic feet. You see: your dog is attracted to your feet like iron to a magnet.
Me: Is that bad?
Imaginary vet: No. It’s actually really common.
Ok. Enough jokes. Time to get serious 🙂
In this article you’ll discover:
- Why your dog sleeps at your feet (instead of next to you).
- 7 easy tips on what to do if your dog continues with this behavior.
- What moving into a new home has to do with your dog sleeping at your feet.
- And more…
Table of contents
Why does my dog sleep at my feet (in bed)?
Your dog sleeps at your feet in bed because they’re naturally affectionate. Research shows that dogs are a bunch of devoted emotional supporters. Dogs sleep with you closely to show their emotional connection. This act makes them know you’re safe and sound.
People also ask:
11 reasons why your dog sleeps at your feet
#1: They seek comfort
As stated in this study, dogs reserve their emotions for their owners. Scientific evidence proves that dogs commonly show jealousy, fear, joy, disgust, and anger in the presence of their humans.
This explains why dogs show they crave intimacy. That’s how they show their feelings and find comfort.
In other words, dogs sleep at your feet to feel closer to you. Keeping a close eye on your actions brings them peace. Plus, they may get some petting here and there, too!
#2: They emotionally support you
In the previous study, they refer to dogs as self-extensions. This means they can mirror your actions. But if dogs can mimic your actions, they can also notice your emotions.
That’s why when you feel sad, they’re always to the rescue.
But, wait. There’s more!
Scholars also found that dogs commit to providing emotional support.
When they see you’re upset, they will try to comfort you. They show it by sticking by your side. In this case, at your feet.
A man’s best friend, remember?
#3: You can protect them
Though dogs may come from a gene pool of predators, they get fearful too. Besides, predators aren’t always dominant in nature’s game.
For example, coyote prey on domesticated dogs.
Also, dogs’ genetic lineage – wolve -is initially timid around other presences.
In fact, some wolves hide from human sight. But others remain aggressive in the presence of humans.
So dogs may sleep at your feet, under the covers, to protect themselves. In that way, they’ll have a blanket that will serve as a shield in times of danger.
#4: They assume a guardian role
By observing human-dog relationships, it’s quite clear that dogs are protective. Territorial and jealous, even.
Without any training, dogs are naturally defensive.
Sleeping at your feet shows their readiness to protect you from something or someone. But in some cases, dogs become too hostile.
They may snap at someone they already know or have met before.
In a dog forum, dog owners noticed that their dogs bark at their neighbors. It usually happens when they’re at the door.
Despite the neighbors being close for years, the aggressiveness never stopped.
On another dog forum, dog parents explained that it’s due to proximity.
Regardless of whether the neighbors are close or not, dogs will still protect their humans. Especially if the two families never spent time under the same roof before.
Such aggression can be prevented with proper training.
This is why K9 dogs train, as they are more known as security dogs. K9 dogs undergo coaching to learn proper ways of protection.
Fun fact: A study found that Miniature Schnauzers are also watchdogs. Their profound friendliness makes them great protectors.
#5: They have separation anxiety
Dogs with separation anxiety go nuts when their owners aren’t around. Their anxiousness is visible in different ways.
Sleeping close to you is one way a dog shows signs of separation anxiety.
But separation anxiety doesn’t only include dogs sleeping at your feet. Keep an eye out for other symptoms like:
- Peeing and pooping everywhere.
- Getting anxious when there’s a loud noise.
- Displaying destructive behavior when alone (chews stuff).
- Vocalizing increasingly like whining, especially when you’re about to leave.
Participants in a study, who are single owners, tend to witness such behavior.
Note: Some sheltered dogs are also victims of separation anxiety.
If your dog is sleeping at your feet and it’s not a problem for you, let it be. But do speak with a certified behaviorist on how to properly treat their anxiety before it escalates.
#6: You let them sleep on the bed but you suddenly forbid them
Animals like dogs and cats are anthropomorphic. In other words, they have human attributes despite being animals.
Like humans, dogs tend to follow certain routines. There are places and things in the house that are familiar to them.
Let’s say your bed is one of these places. Allowing them to sleep on it before and suddenly forbidding them won’t make them stop. Or at least not immediately.
As mentioned before, dogs know how to read your emotions. So they’ll get the message that you get upset if they sleep on the bed.
Your dog might still not be ready to give up on the bed though. So they might try their luck sleeping at your feet instead of closer.
#7: You moved out of the house
It takes time for dogs to create their own safe space. Without a safe space in your new house yet, they’ll get clingier.
The thing is, dogs see unfamiliar things as danger. It’s because of the unexpectedness brought by the environment.
By sleeping at your feet, they’ll feel safer and secure.
In short, when there is nothing familiar to them, dogs will turn to you. They may become clingy and needy. But once they settle in, it’ll eventually stop.
#8: You are their guide
Dogs share the same heredity as wolves and wolves live in packs. In your case, your dog doesn’t see other dogs as their leaders. They see you instead.
Now, why is that?
Researchers conclude that it may be due to daily walks. Leading them means helping them get around.
To you, it’s a normal walk in the park. But to them, it’s a practice of guidance and responsible leadership.
Some dogs may recognize you as their guide and therefore, respect you. So instead of sleeping next to you, they’ll sleep at your feet.
Note: Don’t abuse this privilege by trying to show dominance.
#9: They are being careful
Inviting over someone made your dog change their sleeping position. Whatever you do, they remain glued at your feet.
This is because dogs are cautious animals.
This research discovered that strangers interrupt a dog’s social side. Dogs’ attentiveness makes them observe and assess. That’s why they prefer to sleep at your feet.
Behavior like this encourages a protective approach. It also allows dogs to check if they can associate themselves with the stranger.
Note: It shouldn’t be the same for a long-time partner. Because if they keep acting this way, it may be due to fear.
#10: They want something from you
Your dog sleeps at your feet during the day in case they need something. Usually, aging dogs do this because they have no energy to jump and bark.
And as their hearing and sight deteriorate, they’ll need some guidance from you around the house. Even if they’re familiar with the environment.
Dogs may not alert you vocally, but their actions can. Sometimes, sleeping at your feet could mean they simply want your love and affection.
#11: Your dog can feel if you need someone
Dogs stop at nothing once they sense your longing for a companion.
Sleeping at your feet means they are accompanying you. It’s an affectionate gesture that shows profound loyalty and love.
These findings proved that dogs can indeed sense human emotions. They can also sense another dog’s feelings.
But what’s interesting is that dogs can also identify positive and negative emotions.
Normally, clinginess goes with vocalization, especially whining. This act has different definitions. However, it can also mean a display of solidarity and connection.
7 tips on what to do if your dog sleeps at your feet
#1: Treat their separation anxiety
The primary thing to do is to treat separation anxiety. Anxiousness is mostly the root cause of this behavior.
A study suggests getting another animal. In that way, someone will help them cope with your absence.
You may also play fetch and distancing games such as hide and seek with them. Praise them every time so they’ll know it’s a good thing and it’s safe.
Note: Before you introduce your dog to another animal, consult with a professional.
#2: Train your dog to sleep in their own bed
If you share a bed with your dog and you don’t mind – great! But if you do, due to reasons (allergy), you should train your dogs instead.
Train with your dog every day, especially prior to bedtime. Reward your dog every time they get successful.
But don’t go crazy with the treats. Going overboard with rewards will only encourage the behavior.
Once you start the training, keep it going. You could also hire a dog behaviorist to help you train them.
#3: Provide them with a comfortable bed
You could provide them with a comfy bed. But it can be difficult to stop them from going to bed with you, as they’re already used to it.
Regardless if they already have a fluffy bed to sleep on.
What you can do is to put their favorite toy with them. In that way, they can associate themselves with their new bed without a fuss.
Finally, once they have something to settle on, they’ll stop sleeping at your feet.
#4: Remove things that scare your dogs
Fearful dogs tend to get closer to their owners. Surely, something must’ve triggered a fearful emotion in them.
What you should do is to observe them and notice their behavior. If they’re acting strange towards a certain object, remove it from their sight.
#5: Return their feelings by showing affection
Dogs are affectionate animals and they love to show it physically.
Without receiving enough love and affection, they become clingy. They show their clinginess in several ways. One of them is sleeping close to you.
Spend quality time with them. It will drain their energy if you play games, teach them new things, or take long walks. In return, they’ll have less time and power to act clingy.
Also, who knows?
Maybe you’ll find out that you need it more than them!
#6: Watch their behavior
Before having a dog, choose a breed, and do your research. Learn what behavioral traits you can expect.
This book recommends that you get acquainted with your dog’s breed. Plus other things to expect before having puppies.
Another way to learn more about their behavior is through observations.
Research discovered that it’s possible to get to know your dog better by setting your eyes on them. Eventually, you’ll start recognizing what their facial expression means and what their body language says.
It’ll help you figure out what type of behavior to expect from your dog.
#7: Help them warm up
One of the most important things for dogs is their crates. Having a shift in schedule, location, or number of people in your home can change your dog’s behavior.
In return, they keep following you around for security purposes. Then, they’ll eventually sleep at your feet, even if they have their own beds.
Instead of going through unbearable circumstances, help your dog warm up instead. You can do this by letting them make their first move.
Remember that your dog will be the one deciding if everything’s acceptable. Be patient along the process and don’t force things.
Use positive reinforcement to reward your dog’s confident behavior.