Why Do Dogs Sit on Your Feet?

Breaking down a common type of dog body language: sitting on your feet.

Boston Terrier dog looking up at woman wearing cozy socks
Dog body language can be complex, but a dog sitting on your feet is typically a call for security. ©Rebecca Nelson/Getty Images

When dogs sit on our feet, it is a simple act that many pet parents experience regularly, but the reason isn’t so simple.

What does it mean when dogs sit on your feet?

The most common reason why our dogs do this is to feel a sense of security.

California-based dog trainer Ash Miner, a certified trick dog instructor (CTDI) who is working on a master’s degree in animal behavior, says a dog sitting on his or her parent’s feet is usually giving the pup the sense of someone having their back. It’s also to show their desire to stay close to you. If you get up, they know — because they’re on your feet — even if they fall asleep.

Ash says she’s found this act to be a personality trait that can span any age, size or breed of dog. She has found it is particularly common in puppies, who are trying to keep track of their family.

Can this behavior be a health concern?

Dog body language is sometimes complex and there are a number of possible reasons why your dog sits on your feet. Ash says though she isn’t a medical expert, there are also health-related reasons, including arthritis making it difficult for the dog to sit all the way down. She says she knew a dog who sat on her parent’s feet immediately following a grand mal seizure.

Certified Professional Dog Trainer Kate Connell, of Calmer Canines California, says there’s no one proven reason why dogs sit at our feet. She says reasons can vary widely depending on the expert you ask — from your pet trying to bond with you to your pet being protective and, more rarely, exhibiting dominance behavior.

When dogs sit at our feet, it often seems like a sweet, loving gesture — and that may be exactly what it is. But if you notice any other habits in your dog that you can’t explain or that concern you, consult a veterinary or animal behavior professional because it could be a sign of a larger health or behavior issue.

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