If your dog often sits at your feet you might want to know why and what you can do about it.
In this post, I will show you a number of possible reasons why it does it and what you can do about it.
So, why does my dog sit at my feet? Possible reasons why your dog sits at your feet are that it has separation anxiety, it wants attention, it makes it feel more secure, you might have reinforced the behavior without realizing it or it might do it to spread its scent.
There are actually multiple reasons why your dog might be doing it and it could be a combination of reasons. However, there are also a number of things you can consider when trying to figure out the exact reason.
Why your dog sits at your feet
Each of the different reasons why your dog sits at your feet will likely come with a number of clues in the way that it does it.
Below are a number of possible causes and what would make them more likely.
The reason why it does it might be that it has some separation anxiety. This is where it does not like being left alone and the prospect of being left alone causes it to be anxious. This would be more likely if your dog tends to sit by your feet when you are about to leave home and if it becomes anxious when you are leaving.
In this case, you could try to train it to be less anxious when you are leaving and when you are away.
To do this you could do as follows:
- Make it seem like you are about to leave by doing something such as picking up your keys
- Reward your dog for not being anxious and repeat these two steps a few times
- Make more moves towards actually leaving such as by picking up the keys and putting your hand on the door handle
- Reward your dog for not being anxious and repeat the process a few times
- Actually open the door and go outside for a few moments then come back and reward your dog
- Repeat the above, each time staying outside for slightly longer
Related: Why is my dog so attached to me?
Mistreatment when it was younger
It might be the case that someone mistreated it when it was younger and it now does not like it when it is left alone. This would be more likely if you adopted it from a shelter.
In this case, it might begin to improve as it gets more comfortable in its new environment. However, it would help to talk to your vet about it or a dog behaviorist in your area if it is concerning for you.
Reinforcing the behavior
It might be the case that you have trained it to sit by your feet by rewarding it when it does it. If you tend to do things such as to rub its belly or give it extra attention when it does it then it will likely do it more in order to get those rewards.
Instead, it would help to try and recognize when it is likely to start doing it and to redirect its focus onto something else.
Related: Why does my dog bark at nothing?
It wants attention
It might be the case that your dog sits at your feet because it is looking for attention. This would be more likely if it does it more when you haven’t been giving it much attention or if you tend to give it more attention when it does it.
Instead, it would help to give it attention throughout the day in the form of training, exercise and by playing with it. But it would help to avoid rewarding it with attention when it sits at your feet if you don’t want it to.
To spread its scent
The reason why it does it might be that it is trying to spread its scent so that other dogs are less likely to approach you. This would be more likely if it also tends to get more protective when you are around other dogs.
To prevent this you’ll need to spend time training it to sit in certain places and to discourage it from sitting at your feet by ignoring it when it does and rewarding it when it doesn’t.
It could be the case that it does it because it is being protective. This would be more likely if it is a breed that is known for being overly protective and if it tends to be overly protective around other people or pets.
Consider when your dog first started sitting at your feet
It would help to consider when your dog first started doing it since it could be the case that there was an event that caused it to start doing it.
Some things that might have happened at around the same time might include:
- Moving homes
- Someone passing away
- A change in its daily schedule or routine
- You started working different hours
Consider when and where your dog sits at your feet
It would also help to consider when and where your dog sits at your feet since the timing could have something to do with it.
For example, if it tends to do it more when you would normally leave home then it would be a sign that it has some separation anxiety.
What to do about your dog sitting at your feet
Below are a number of options you have when getting your dog to stop doing it.
If your dog seems to be doing it because it is looking for attention from you then one option would be to get up, leave and to ignore it when it does it so that it learns that sitting at your feet doesn’t get attention from you.
This means that you should get your dog away from feet, wait for it to calm down, tell it to sit somewhere else, reward it for behaving and not sitting at your feet, then sit back down. If it tries to sit on you again then repeat the process.
It would also help to recognize when it is likely to sit at your feet and to redirect its focus onto sitting somewhere else.
Avoid negative reinforcement training
As mentioned above, it could be the case that you have encouraged the behavior by giving it things that it wants when it does it.
Instead, it would help to reward it when it is being well behaved and to try to redirect its focus before it starts sitting at your feet.
Give it attention
It would also help to give it attention throughout the day by playing with it, training it and giving it exercise. By doing so you should help to reduce how much it feels the need to seek attention from you.
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