If your dog grabs your legs, you might be wondering why and what you can do about it. This post will show you a number of possible reasons why your dog grabs your legs and what you can do about them.

So, why does my dog grab my legs? Possible reasons why your dog grabs your legs are that it is trying to get extra attention from you, it is playing, boredom, or that it has learned that the behavior gets rewarded.

Your dog could actually be doing it due to a combination of reasons. However, there are a number of things you can consider when figuring out the main cause and there are a number of things you can do about it.

Reasons why your dog grabs your legs

Below are a number of possible causes and what would make each of them more likely to be the main cause.

For attention

The reason why your dog does it could be that it is trying to get extra attention from you. This would be more likely if your dog does it more when you have not been giving it much attention and if you tend to give it more attention when it does it.

It is playing

Another possible cause is that it is playing. This would be more likely if it does it when you move your legs while sat down or when walking. The way you move your legs and feet might appear to it to be similar to the way that prey moves which is why it attacks your legs.

Separation anxiety

Another possible cause is that it has some separation anxiety. This would be more likely to be the cause if your dog tends to do it more when you are leaving home and if it also shows signs of being anxious when you are leaving.

Boredom

When dogs have not gotten much exercise, they will often look for ways to stimulate themselves. Another possible cause is that it is bored. This would be more likely to be the cause if your dog is from an active breed and if it tends to grab your legs before it has gotten exercise.

Encouraging it

It might also be the case that your dog has learned that the behavior gets rewarded. If you tend to give your dog things such as toys, treats, or extra attention, when it grabs your legs, it will likely do it more in order to get more rewards. Instead, it would help to reward it when it behaves the way you want and to avoid rewarding it when it does not.

Not enough training

If you have not trained your dog not to nip you it might be the case that it has not learned that it is not ok to attack your legs. If you haven’t it would help to start training it by using the tips in the section below.

Things to consider about your dog grabbing your legs

Below are some things to consider when figuring out the main reason why your dog has been grabbing your legs.

If your dog has always grabbed your legs

If your dog has not always grabbed your legs, it would help to consider what else happened when your dog first started doing it. If it started doing it suddenly, it might be the case that there was an event that caused it to start doing it. If it did start doing it suddenly, it could be due to things such as learning that the behavior gets rewarded, getting less exercise, or a change in the way you interact with it.

What is different when your dog does not grab your legs

If there is a certain time that your dog tends to grab your legs, it would also help to consider what is different about the timing. For example, if it tends to do it when you are leaving home, it might be the case that it has some separation anxiety.

What to do about your dog grabbing your legs

Below are some options you have when dealing with the behavior.

Avoid encouraging it

As mentioned above, it might be the case that your dog has learned that the behavior gets rewarded. Instead, it would help to reward it when it behaves the way you want it to and to avoid rewarding it when it does not.

Give it distractions

Another option would be to give it things to be distracted with such as toys or a bone.

Positive reinforcement training

It would help to train your dog not to do it by using positive reinforcement training. This is where you train your dog by rewarding it for making small steps towards doing the thing that you want and avoid rewarding it when it misbehaves.

To use it to get your dog to stop grabbing your legs, you would:

  • Stop giving your dog attention whenever it grabs your legs by temporarily leaving the room if necessary
  • Start giving it attention again until it starts grabbing your legs then stop giving it attention again.
  • Repeat the above, rewarding with a treat it each time it doesn’t grab your legs when it normally would.

Get help

If you cannot figure out why your dog grabs your legs or you cannot get it to stop consider getting the help of a certified dog trainer or behaviorist in your area. By doing so you will be able to get expert help tailored towards your particular dog.

Why does my dog grab my legs with its paw?

If your dog only grabs your legs with its paw, it might be the case that your dog is trying to tell you to do something such as to give it a belly rub with your feet. Any of the other reasons mentioned above could also be the cause. It would help to consider if there is a certain time that your dog tends to do it.

Why does my dog hold my legs?

If your dog holds on to your legs, it would be more likely that it is doing it due to separation anxiety or because it has learned that the behavior is rewarded. It would help to consider if there is a certain time your dog tends to do it more.

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Author

I created and currently manage Pet Dog Owner, the website you can go to when you have questions about your dog's behavior. It is my hope that you find Pet Dog Owner to be a helpful resource. It is also my hope that it will help you to improve your relationship with your dog. You can read more about me and my website here.