I love it when my dog sits on my foot, right up until the tingling and numbness sets in and i’m forced to give my toes a reluctant wiggle. Only one of our dogs regularly sits on my feet, but the gesture although sometimes uncomfortable always makes me feel special.
Why Do Dogs Sit On Your Foot?
Foot sitting in dogs is usually a sign of companionship or affection, but it is also a trait in nervous dogs that are worried and need security. Some clingy pups simply want to be sure they’ll know immediately if you get up and walk away, so that they can follow along behind. I have also been pretty sure at various points that one of our pooches is sitting on my foot because my woolly socks were more comfortable and warmer than the tile floor.
Do Dogs Sit On Your Foot Because It’s Comfortable?
An Early Warning Departure System?
I am very confident that our youngest Labrador sits on my feet as an early warning detection system. She’s a very chilled out and laid back lady. But she also likes to be together.
When I leave the room, she’d like to know where I’m going immediately so that she can tag along. If she relaxes and deeply sleeps elsewhere, I can leave the room without her so much as raising an ear or opening an eye. If she’s sitting on my foot, she knows straight away if I shift position and make my escape!
When my dog sleeps on my foot, I use my other foot to pet her. I cross my legs a lot, so the hanging foot is used to tickle her behind the ears and stroke the fur on her flanks. It’s something I don’t do particularly consciously, but it is nice for her and relaxing for me.
In giving her this attention when she sits or lays down on my foot, I’m rewarding her proximity to me. And in doing so increasing the chances of her sitting in the same position again.
Security, Reassurance and Anxiety
Nervous dogs feel more secure when they know where you are. If they are physically touching you they are supported emotionally as well as by your proximity. Anxious dogs tend to stick close to the people they trust, as it helps them to feel more regulated.
I find that dogs who show signs of separation anxiety or stress when left alone are more likely to want to be almost on top of you when you are together.
Natural Needs For Companionship
A lot of what we and our pets do is instinctive. Natural behaviors that emerge from within us, rather than deliberate choices that we make. Dogs are pack animals, and they love company. If you’ve got multiple dogs like we do, you’ll probably have noticed that although they each have a bed, they will usually collapse onto the same one.
This same drive to be together can lead to your dog choosing to spend her time nestled against your foot. Especially if she doesn’t have any canine companionship.
Warm Feet, Cold Floor!
Climate is a big deal to your dog. Sometimes their choices are as simple as a matter of climate control. If you have a cool air conditioned house and tile or linoleum flooring, they might well rather rest their butt on your warm sock. Likewise if your house is a bit too warm for their liking, they might prefer to keep cool on your more chilly toes!
Waiting For The Fun To Return
When our puppies are little we reward them for calm behavior. Sitting or laying down calmly or quietly is rewarded with a treat between the front paws. It encourages them to learn to relax, and not be so hyped up all of the time. It also means that they think being near you is a pretty good choice of place to rest.
If you train your dog or spend time exercising or playing with her, you are the source of their most fun experiences. And of course, you are the source of all of her meals too. Being in close proximity to you means that they are near the potential origin of fun!
The Labrador Site Founder
Pippa Mattinson is the best selling author of The Happy Puppy Handbook, the Labrador Handbook, Choosing The Perfect Puppy, and Total Recall.
She is also the founder of the Gundog Trust and the Dogsnet Online Training Program
Pippa's online training courses were launched in 2019 and you can find the latest course dates on the Dogsnet website