If your dog has been sleeping on your legs a lot, you might be wondering why and what you can do about it. This post will show you a number of possible causes and what you can do in order to get it to stop. 

So, why does my dog sleep on my legs? Possible reasons why your dog has been sleeping on your legs are that it finds it comfortable, it has some separation anxiety, it is waiting for something or that it does it naturally. 

Since there are actually a number of possible reasons why your dog might be doing it, it would help to consider what would make each of them more likely to be the main reason. Once you have a good idea of the main cause, it should become a lot easier to get your dog to stop doing it. 

Reasons why your dog sleeps on your legs

Below are a number of possible reasons why your dog sleeps on your legs and what would make each of them more likely to be the main reason. 

Comfort

The cause could be that it finds sleeping on top of you as being more comfortable. This would be more likely if it chooses to sleep there instead of in its bed, if it rests its head on you and if it does not seem to show any abnormal behavior. 

Nature

Most dog breeds were bred to work alongside their owners and feel more secure when they are in a group. Sleeping or laying on top of your legs could be helping it to feel safer since it will make it feel like it is in a group and less vulnerable.

It’s being protective

The reason why it does it might be that it is being protective. This would be more likely if it also becomes protective when you are around other people or animals. It would also be more likely if it tends to do it when there are other people around.

Encouraging the behavior

It could be the case that you have encouraged it to do it by giving it things it wants when it does it. If you give it things such as back or belly rubs, when it sleeps on you, it will likely do it more in order to get more rewards. Instead, it would help to get it off you and to reward it when it lays down the way you want it to.

Anxiety

The cause might be that it has some separation anxiety and it wants to know when you are leaving. This would be more likely if it tends to show signs of being anxious when you are about to leave and if it tends to sleep or lay on you, during the day, only before you have left home and not after you have arrived home.

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 or back before going to sleep.

It is waiting for something

The cause could also be that it is waiting to get something from you. This would be more likely if it tends to do it more at around the same time that you would normally give it something such as food or a walk. 

Things to consider

Below are a number of things to consider when figuring out the main reason why your dog has been doing it. 

What else happened when it first started doing it

If your dog did not always lay on your legs, it would help to consider what else happened when it first started doing it. If it started doing it suddenly, it could be due to things such as learning that the behavior is rewarded or something causing it to become anxious.

What is different when your dog sleeps on your legs

It would also help to consider if there is a certain time that your dog tends to sleep on your legs, since it could be the case that the timing has something to do with it. For example, if it tends to do it just before you normally leave home, it might be doing it because it wants to be woken up when you leave.

What to do about your dog sleeping on your legs

Below are a number of things you can do about your dog sleeping on your legs. 

Avoid encouraging it

As mentioned above, it might be the case that it has learned that the behavior gets rewarded. Instead, it would help to reward it when it sleeps where you want it to and to avoid giving it rewards when it does try to sleep on your legs. 

Reduce reasons why it might be anxious

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.

Positive reinforcement training

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

Give it another place to sleep

It would also help to encourage it to sleep or lay where you want it to by making the area comfortable. It should be cool, not too bright at night, quiet and there should be space for it to lie down.

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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.