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Why Do Dogs Sleep Between Your Legs?

By Aviram K.
Published in Training & Behavior
July 31, 2021
3 min read
Why Do Dogs Sleep Between Your Legs?
🏥 The information in this article is not a substitute for professional help.

You’ve just had a long day after work, and you just want to chill on the couch. Your dog looks pretty sleepy in their bed, minding their own business, when they suddenly get up, lay between your legs, and continue to sleep.

Your dog has their own very comfy bed, yet they always choose to sleep very close by to you (admittedly, sometimes too close). Why is that?

Dogs sleep between your legs because they consider you part of the pack. Dogs in packs usually sleep on or very close by to one another. Other reasons for this behavior are getting your attention, for comfort, showing affection, and the warmth from your body.

In this article, I’ll outline and delve deeper into the reasons your dog sleeps between your legs.

Let’s start.

Your Dog May Be Acting on Pack Instinct

Dogs are very social creatures. If you’ve ever had more than one dog, you’ve probably seen it first hand. Usually, when dogs are in packs, they tend to prefer sleeping right next to or even on top of one another.

It’s an instinct they have that strengthens the bond between the individuals in the pack and conserves body heat during cold times.

They don’t engage in this behavior if they don’t consider you a part of the pack. So you can consider yourself lucky in that regard.

Your Dog May Feel Safe and Secure There

Some dogs are brave and will defend against anything. Others are fearful and run to you for protection. Timid dog breeds startle easily, and when that happens, you are their sanctuary.

They will nestle in between your legs for security as it reassures them even if you are currently not awake, somewhere deep in dreamland.

Socializing your dog and gradually exposing them to different scenarios (with you at their side, reassuring them) will increase their confidence. If you keep doing this, your dog should display a bit less timid behavior and may even stop sleeping between your legs as often.

Your Dog May Be Trying to Protect You

Just like there are timid dogs that run to you for comfort and security, there are those dogs that will try to defend and protect you if they feel you need protecting.

It doesn’t necessarily mean a burglar has breached your property or they heard a suspicious noise. It could be something as tiny as them not liking you hanging out around specific individuals or other dogs, or if you seem sad or hurt in some way.

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Your Dog May Need More Attention

Been busy at work or other business endeavors lately?

If you have been too busy to pay attention to your dog lately, it may manifest as a need to be closer to you.

As stated earlier, dogs are very social animals in need of constant attention. When not given enough attention, they will seek it in various ways.

One of those (positive) ways is sleeping between their legs.

Be careful, though. If you don’t give enough attention to your dog still, they may resort to more negative ways of grabbing your attention.

If sleeping between your legs doesn’t get your attention, maybe munching on that couch over there will.

I recommend paying some attention to your dog every day, even if it’s just for a few minutes at a time.

Your Dog May Feel Warm and Comfortable There

Who doesn’t like a good cuddle?

Your dog probably likes to cuddle, too. Apart from being comfortable, it also helps conserve body heat.

If it’s very cold outside (and inside), your dog may seek warmer places to stay at. Your legs may

provide them with more heat (and therefore comfort) than their bed.

In that case, I recommend getting a Heated Pet Bed or crate. That should keep them warm and cozy even when you are not around.

Your Dog May Have Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety and isolation distress are common problems with dogs who have recently changed homes, for example. Some dogs are more prone to it than others. They are called velcro dogs and are naturally clingy.

Dogs suffering from separation anxiety stick close to you because they fear losing you.

You know your dog falls in this category if they act out when you leave them alone. Signs of separation anxiety include

  • Excessive barking, whining and howling.
  • Restlessness
  • Growling
  • Chewing and destroying furniture when you are away.

When you finally return, the dog gets very excited. They also don’t want to leave your side even when you are sleeping. That is why they sneak in and sleep between your legs.

You can try leaving the dog with something that reminds them of you for comfort or occupying their minds with something like a puzzle toy they really like.

You May Have Inadvertently Trained Them to Sleep There

Most dogs respond very well to positive reinforcement. If you were cuddling, giving attention, or praise to your dog while they are lying there between your legs, you might have inadvertently reinforced the behavior.

Fortunately, if you wish them to stop doing that, you can stop providing them with what they consider a reward (most likely attention or cuddles).

If you really have been conditioning them to sleep there unknowingly, when the rewards stop, they’ll most likely stop doing that altogether.


Tags

SleepDog Behaviors

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Aviram K.

Aviram K.

Dog Behaviorist & Trainer

Table Of Contents

1

Your Dog May Be Acting on Pack Instinct

2

Your Dog May Feel Safe and Secure There

3

Your Dog May Be Trying to Protect You

4

Your Dog May Need More Attention

5

Your Dog May Feel Warm and Comfortable There

6

Your Dog May Have Separation Anxiety

7

You May Have Inadvertently Trained Them to Sleep There

Related Posts

Do Dogs Blink?
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September 23, 2021
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