If you have a dog, you may have noticed that they sleep at your feet. Even when they have a comfortable bed of their own, they still seek out your feet at nap time and bedtime. Why do dogs like to sleep at their owner’s feet?
Reasons Dogs Sleep at Your Feet
Someday, we will have the tools to talk with dogs, and we can ask them directly. In the meantime, there are a lot of reasons that your dog may want to sleep at your feet. Here are some of the most common causes.
1. You are Warm
In nature, dogs often sleep against each other to stay warm at night. If your dog is chilly, you might be a heat source to keep them comfortable during sleep.
2. Your Dog is Expressing Affection
Believe it or not, your dog may want to sleep at your feet simply because they love you and want to be close to you.
3. It Makes Them Feel Safer
Dogs develop deep social bonds with their human families. A dog may feel vulnerable when they are asleep, and sticking close to you may help them feel more safe and secure.
4. Your Dog is Anticipating Rewards
Perhaps you have developed habits that provide rewards to the dog for this behavior. For example, maybe a dog gets extra pets or attention when it sleeps at your feet. This attention reinforces the behavior, so your dog is more likely to continue sleeping at your feet.
5. Your Dog is Protecting You
Many dogs are very protective of their owners, and sleeping at your feet may be a way of guarding you and keeping you safe, even while they sleep.
6. Your Dog Wants to Know Where You Are
As long as your dog is on your feet, you can’t go anywhere without waking her up. Therefore, you can’t go anywhere without her knowing about it and keeping tabs on you.
7. Your Dog Has Separation Anxiety
Some dogs become anxious at the idea that you may leave, and sleeping at your feet helps reduce the anxiety that you might leave while they are unaware.
In other words, your dog is probably sleeping at your feet because they like you and want to be close to you. It makes them feel more secure, and they also want to know where you are and that you are safe, even while they are sleeping.
Where Should Dogs Sleep?
If your dog prefers to sleep at your feet, you may be wondering if it’s okay or if it’s better for dogs to sleep in a crate or dog bed. While they are young and untrained, it’s always best for puppies to sleep in a crate.
Crating puppies helps to teach them to go potty at the right times, get on your sleeping schedule, and gives them a safe place to hang out when they are over-stimulated.
For adult dogs, every dog family is different. Some dogs prefer to sleep in their dog bed, some prefer to sleep near a door where they can guard the home, and some want to be in bed with you. It’s easy for many families to settle into a routine where dogs and people can both sleep comfortably.
How to Get My Dog to Not Sleep On My Feet?
If you want to get your dog to stop sleeping on your feet, it can help figure out the cause, which will help address the behavior. Here are some tips to keep your dog from sleeping on your feet.
1. Stop Giving Rewards
If your dog gets extra pats and scritches when they sleep on your feet, you have probably been unconsciously rewarding that behavior. Don’t yell or punish the dog for sleeping on your feet. Instead, simply stop rewarding the behavior by giving them extra attention, and offer praise and pets when they sleep in their own bed.
2. Heat Their Bed
If you suspect your dog might be cold, try adding a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel to their dog bed. If they easily transition to a warmed dog bed, they are probably sleeping on your feet for warmth, and adding heat to the dog bed will help change their sleeping habits.
3. Create a Feeling of Safety
If your dog is sleeping on your feet because it helps them feel safe and secure, you can help them feel safe and secure in other ways.
For example, many dogs associate their crate with feelings of safety and security. You can place the crate or a dog bed close to your own bed and pet them often while they are resting in the right place.
If your dog sleeps on your feet, and also
- Barks, whines, or howls when left alone
- Chews or digs excessively
- Relieves themselves inappropriately
- Shows other signs of distress when they are separated from you
… they may have separation anxiety. Separation anxiety can be challenging to overcome and require a lot of time and patience.
If you suspect separation anxiety, it’s always best to begin with a visit to your veterinarian, who can help rule out any medical conditions and help you manage a dog with separation anxiety.
Most of the time, your dog sleeps on your feet because they love you and feel comfortable close to you.
While it may be frustrating to have bought a fancy, expensive dog bed only to have them ignore it and choose your feet instead, it’s also a sign of affection and trust. If you are happy with your dog at your feet, chances are that they are happy there as well.