If your dog has been sleeping at your feet a lot you might be wondering why and what you can do about it. This post will show you common reasons why they do it and what you can do to stop it if you want it to stop.
So, why does my dog sleep at my feet? Possible reasons why your dog sleeps by your feet are that it makes your dog feel safer, it is waiting for something such as food or exercise, it is being protective, it has some separation anxiety or you might have encouraged it by rewarding it when it does it.
There are many reasons why your dog might be doing it and it could be due to a combination of reasons. However, there are some things you can consider when figuring out the main cause and there are some things you can do about it.
Why your dog sleeps by your feet
Below are common causes and what would make them more likely to be the main reason why yours has been doing it.
It makes it feel more secure
The reason why it does it might be that it makes it feel safer. This would be more likely if it seems to have a timid personality and if it does it more in certain situations such as when there are noises outside. Also, dogs were bred to work alongside their owners and the other members of their pack for hours on a daily basis. So, sleeping by your feet could make it feel like it is around other pack members and cause it to feel more secure.
Encouraging the behavior
It could be the case that you have actually been encouraging it to sleep there by giving it things it wants when it does it. If you often give it things such as belly rubs, extra attention or treats when it sleeps or lays by your feet, 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 it to, to stop rewarding it when it starts behaving in a way that you do not want and to give it positive reinforcement training.
Waiting for food or exercise
The reason why it does it might also be that it is waiting to get something from you. This would be more likely if it tends to do it more when it has not been fed or given exercise yet and if it stops doing it after it has got those things.
It is being protective
Another possible reason why it sleeps by your feet is that it is being protective. This would be more likely if it tends to be overly protective while awake and if it tends to sleep by your feet in certain situations such as when other people are around.
The reason why it does it might be that it has some separation anxiety and it wants to know when you leave. This would be more likely if it tends to sleep there before you tend to leave home and not after you have already arrived home from work. It would also be more likely if it tends to show signs of being anxious when you are leaving.
In this case, it would help to take measures to reduce how anxious it is when you are leaving by doing things such as:
- Letting it pee before leaving
- Feeding it before leaving
- Giving it exercise before leaving
- Giving it a comfortable area to stay when you are gone
- Coming back quickly to let it out to pee if possible
It is being affectionate
It could be the case that it is just being affectionate. This would be more likely if it tends to get you to rub its stomach before going to sleep and if it tends to actually lay its head or body against you when sleeping there.
Things to consider
Below are some things to consider when figuring out why your dog has been doing it.
What else happened when your dog first started sleeping at your feet
If it did not always sleep by your feet, it would help to consider if anything else happened when it first started sleeping there. It could be the case that there was an event that caused it to start doing it
If it started doing it suddenly, it would be more likely to be due to things such as learning that it gets rewards when it does it, if a part of its daily schedule changed such as you started giving it exercise later or if you started working for longer hours.
What is different when your dog does not sleep by your feet
It would also help to consider if there is a certain time that it tends to sleep by your feet since the timing could also have something to do with it.
For example, if it only seems to do it before getting exercise or being fed, it might be the case that it wants to make sure it is woken up when it is time for those things.
How to get your dog to stop sleeping at your feet
If you do not want your dog to sleep by your feet, below are some things you can do about it.
Train it to lay somewhere else
One option would be to train your dog to lay somewhere else with the use of positive reinforcement training. This is where you encourage it to behave in a certain way by rewarding it when it shows signs of behaving that way.
To use it to get it to lay or sleep in a certain spot you could do something such as the following:
- Make the location, you want it to sleep in, comfortable.
- Get your dog to stand there and reward it
- Encourage your dog to lay down by giving it a treat
- Continue to repeat the process a few times daily until it realizes that laying there results in it getting rewards
If your dog seems to be doing it because it is looking for attention from you one option would be to get up, leave and to ignore it when it does it so that it learns that laying 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 laying at your feet, then sit back down. If it tries to lay at your feet again then repeat the process.
It would also help to recognize when it is likely to lay at your feet and to redirect its focus onto laying somewhere else.
Avoid encouraging the behavior
As mentioned above, it might be the case that it has learned that it gets things it wants when it sleeps by your feet. Instead, it would help to reward it when it sleeps where you want it to and to avoid rewarding it when it does not.
Reduce its separation anxiety
As mentioned above, it could be doing it because it has some separation anxiety. It would help to try to reduce how anxious it gets by giving it exercise, letting it pee and feeding it before leaving so that it does not have to wait so long.
Give it a comfortable area to sleep
It would also help to give it a comfortable area to sleep in so that it is more likely to choose to sleep there rather than at your feet.
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