Why Does my Dog Lay or Sit on my Feet? Tonya Wilhelm Answers

Why does my dog sleep or lay on my feet

Have you ever asked yourself, “Why does my dog lay on me all the time?” Or maybe you’ve wondered “Why does my dog sit on my feet?” For some people, it may be that their dog sits on top of them. The answer to these common dog behavior questions is pretty simple: It depends!

Dog behavior is a complicated subject, and experts learn new things about our canine friends every day. As a professional dog behavior counselor for the past twenty years, I can tell you there never seems to be a simple, one-sentence answer to dog training or behavior questions. Your dog may lean, lay, or sit on you for a variety of common reasons. Here are the top 6 reasons a dog may get up close and personal.

Pitt bull leaning and guarding its owner

Security: When dogs are insecure, they seek the support of their family unit—that’s you! A dog’s family unit includes all the animals and the humans in the home. You are likely the human he feels safest with. By staying close and even touching you, a dog may feel reassured that you are there for him. His protector.

Comfort: Have you ever been stressed or sick, and your dog just won’t leave your side? A family is there for each other. If you are feeling under the weather or insecure, your dog may offer you comfort and support. He cannot talk to you with his voice, but he can talk to you with his actions. By laying close or on top of you, he’s showing you he cares and that he’s there for you.

Black Lab sits on its owners lap

Protecting: Dogs are masters at controlling space and their environment. Sometimes when a dog may feel his family is in danger, he may place himself between his family and the oncoming threat. There may not be an actual threat, but in his mind, he is protecting you from something he perceives as threatening.

Guarding: Unlike a protecting behavior, some dogs view their person as such a great resource that they want to keep others away from their prize. By placing himself on your foot, lap, or other parts of your body, your dog may be claiming you for himself.

yellow dog lies on man's belly

Affection: You love to snuggle with your dog, and he may want to show you his affection by resting on your lap or feet. He’s probably learned in the past that this is a great way to earn a few extra smooches and scratches.

Warmth: One of the sweetest things is to see a dog snuggle up with their person to stay warm. This behavior is so reminiscent of puppyhood when all the puppies and their mom curled up into a big puppy pile.

Husky puppy in my lap

As you can see from the six examples above, why a dog may lay on you, lean on you, or sleep on your feet really does depend. Most of these situations are signs of affection and care that prove once again why dogs are man’s best friend.

However, if you have a dog who seems over-protective or is guarding you from others, it is important that you seek the assistance of a qualified dog behaviorist. These two behaviors can get out of control quickly and can lead to an unfortunate experience.

Does your dog lay on you? Tell me in the comments.


  1. 9wk Springer Spaniel always bites, growls and rips around house after walks – but sleeps on my feet or husbands once she settles down. What is the problem?

  2. I’ve never had a dog (I’m a cat person), but whenever I spend any time with pretty much any dog (even dogs I barely know), they will lie down on my feet. This has even happened in the street on the school run when I simply stopped to pet a friendly Labrador. It’s especially the larger, more gentle dogs which do this. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on this, as I have no close connection with any dog.

  3. My dog will not lay down and relax if on on the couch, unless I put a foot down. Then she hugs it and lays down with my foot in her armpit. It’s like with my foot touching her all is right in the world. We have 3 dogs , and she is the only one that does this.

  4. My dog loves me dearly. It watches me and follows me everywhere. I love dogs so much that when I saw my partner for the first time I thought he looked like a drunken hound dog what a looker. Also his ears hang down to his shoulder and has a tongue like a giraffe wow hot time in the house tonight thank you.

  5. What’s it mean to have a strangers dog lay down next to your feet?

    I was at a gathering where a group of us watched a baseball game gathered around a conference table. I was sitting at the other side of the table near the end and there was a couple sitting with a large Husky across from me who I had never met.

    In the course of watching the game their dog came over to me and I petted it a little bit. Then the dog laid down by my feet until they left.

    This kind of thing has happened before. One time I was crossing the street in a large city where I live and the guy acrossing the street approaching me has two large Golden Retrievers on a leash. Both dogs come right up to me as though they knew me.

    I like dogs so I gave them a pet and went on my way. As I walked on I thought, “Boy that was weird. That guy might go home and if he’s got a wife or girlfriend he might say to her, “So who’s the guy in the neighborhood who is so familiar with our dogs?””

    Incidentally, I don’t have a dog. Haven’t had one since High School.

    Wish I did, but given my work and apartment living it wouldn’t be fair to have on, as if I had one it would only be a German Shepard.

  6. I have a 4 year old Border/Black Lab mix that I rescued after her owner passed. Only other home she knew. She has gone ballistic twice.. once when someone broke into my house one night and a second time when I was approached by a stranger (that obviously had mental issues) who was yelling and waving their arms around. She stopped him in his tracks and chased the burglar out the same door he came in from. She lays at my feet all the time, follows me everywhere and sleeps next to my bed. If you take care of, protect and treat your dog as family they will do the same for you.

  7. I have a Australian Blue Heeler and just recently while sitting in my recliner he will walk over and put his head over my foot, not necessarily touching but will just stand there, not sure about what caused it. Or if I should be alarmed.

  8. ive had one of my dogs since he was 8 weeks old and worked from home so i spent a lot of time w him. he was so tiny! he used to lay on desk sometimes but when he didnt hed lay curled up on my feet. he slept a lot. then at bed time id hold him in one hand and let him snuggle up tucked under my chin or ear. hed sometimes sleep in his crate but eventually he just made it his routine to sleep w me. he will sometimes sleep up by my head but vastly prefers to sleep on the footside. also sometimes when he hears an unfamiliar sound he will jump up and put himself between me and the sound alert and watchful. its really endearing bc his maybe 15lbs. hes very loyal, brave, and protective though so i do my best to earn his esteem.

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