Dogs are interesting creatures. They’ve been hunting with us for almost as long as we have been hunting and now they share our homes. Still, we don’t always understand why they do what they do. Let’s tackle one specific piece of behavior today so that there is one less little mystery between you and your furry best friend. Today we are going to answer the question ‘why do dogs sit on your feet?’ and by the end of this article you’ll know exactly what is occurring and what you should do.
Furry little characters
Dog behavior often has a familiar feel to it and we can intuit what it is they want or what they are doing… in most cases. In others, we end up perplexed. The biggest reason for this is perspective. For one thing, your dog has an enormous range to their olfactory sensors. That means their noses can detect an entire spectrum that you can’t even consider. They are also pack animals, meaning that they are geared up to a family social structure that you will want to learn a little about if you truly wish to understand your furry buddy. Our example of the dog sitting on your feet is exactly that and we’ll tell you why.
So, dogs sitting on your feet are exhibiting pack behavior?
Yes, your dog wanting to sit on your feet is pack behavior. While domesticated doggies don’t need pack behavior, it is still hard-wired into them. Part of this is expressed in their desire for closeness. Puppies, for instance, sleep close to momma but a small distance away (to avoid getting smooshed if mom should roll over while still staying close for evening feedings). As dogs get older, they lay closer to other pack members for both security and for warmth. So, why is your dog at your feet? Well, this is largely because your dog views you as the Alpha dog and assumes that any spot that you select is the BEST spot in the house. They want to share this spot and so they will sit up close. Now, a dog sleeping or lying at your feet can also be a sign of submission or they could simply be frightened as well. A lot of the reasoning is going to depend on the behavior that comes with it.
Is this behavior I should encourage?
That depends on what comes with t and what you wish to allow. For instance, a dog that keeps taking ‘your spot’ before you may be trying to show dominance and this should be discouraged. If the dog avoids your actual spot but always goes to your feet, then this is behavior you can encourage if you like it (and in winter, having a doggy foot-warmer can be quite the blessing). Some of us, however, do not want the dog to be the close, or in the case of when we are laying in bed, do not want the dog to be there. If this is the case then you will need to teach your dog which places are acceptable to sleep or lay in so that everyone is happy. Your dog might be a little resistant, at first, but don’t worry. They’ll come around!
How to train your dog to sit somewhere else
The first thing that you will want to do is STOP petting them when they go to your feet. Petting them when they are at your feet will encourage them to stay put so you want to stop this right away. Next, you need to make sure that your dog knows the ‘sit’ command. If they do not, the easiest way to teach them is to load up on treats and when a dog sits down you say ‘sit’ and give them a treat or an ear scratch until they begin to associate sitting with the ‘sit’ command. Once they know the command then
“A better sense of belonging”
it is a matter of deciding where you want them to be and getting them to sit there using the command. Reinforce it with treats and when your dog moves from the spot, call them back over to it and deliver the ‘sit’ command. While this can be done without a doggy bed, somewhere fluffy for them to sit when you are sitting down helps to speed things along and gives your dog a better sense of belonging so consider bringing a doggie-bed into the equation. It’s not a requirement but training will go MUCH faster.
Special exceptions and considerations
We mentioned that sometimes your dog is sitting at your feet because they are scared and this is definitely one reason that it might occur. In such cases, you may want to allow the behavior, but it might be good to associate a command with it. ‘Just this once!’ is a good example command but you can always get creative. This way if you want to make an exception then instead of ‘sit!’ at their spot if your dog doesn’t automatically go there you can give the ‘exception’ command and they’ll know that they can sit at your feet. Other cases when this behavior might occur are when your doggy is not feeling well or even if they are simply cold. A vet visit will fix the former and adding a blanket to their ‘doggie spot’ is good for the latter, so consider making an ‘exception’ command to be accommodating for those times when your little one just needs a little extra love.
Some final words
In today’s article we have discussed the reasons why your dog likes to lay on your feet. It’s simply pack behavior, hard-wired into them, and indicates that they would like to share your space or possibly, might want to take it! Just remember that a little patience and a pocketful of treats can teach your dog to learn where they should be sitting and before you know it this new behavior will be second nature!