Why Does My Dog Sleep By My Feet? [It’s NOT a Dominance Move]

Wouldn’t it be nice if dogs could talk? We would finally be able to ask them why they do some of the bizarre things they do. One bizarre thing my dog does is sleeping by my feet whenever I go to bed. It turns out, my dog isn’t the only weirdo that does this. Most dog owners who let their dog sleep in bed with them report that their dog usually sleeps by their feet…but why do dogs do this?

When dogs someday learn how to talk, we may find out. Until then, we can only make educated assumptions. Here’s the leading theory.

Dogs sleep by your feet because when they’re a puppy, they spend all day following mom right by her feet. Also, when they go to bed at night, they sleep by mommas backside so they don’t get crushed when she rolls over. These two reasons could be why your dog sleeps by your feet.

Of course, there are some other theories on why a dog would sleep by your feet. We will cover these in detail below.

7 Reasons Your Dog Sleeps By Your Feet

This dog is cozy laying by warm socks on feet

When researching why dogs sleep by our feet, it was a little frustrating because everything that popped up seemed to be about why dogs want to sleep with their owners, but very few of the resources talked about why dogs sleep specifically by the feet.

Through my research, I’ve gathered seven possible reasons your dog may be sleeping by your feet at night.

1: Feet Have a Strong Scent

Dogs rely on their sense of smell just as much as we rely on our vision. When you begin to fall in love with someone, all you want to do is “get lost in their eyes.” You enjoy looking at the person you are falling in love with.

Although your dog may not be “falling in love” with you, they do love you! However, dogs know us better by our scent than by what we look like. Since our feet produce a strong scent, they want to be near the part where they can feel closest to us.

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2: They Don’t Want to Get Crushed

Puppies sleep by their mother’s backside so they don’t get crushed when momma rolls over. Sleeping near the bottom of someone might be where they feel the safest. If they sleep by your feet, they’ll have the comfort of knowing they’re right by you, but won’t have to worry about getting crushed if you roll over.

3: They Associate Comfort With Feet

Puppies follow their mother everywhere, and most puppies will stay right by the feet instead of falling behind or in front. Your dog might be sleeping by your feet because they want to stay by your side and assume if you’re going anywhere, you’re feet have to move.

4: Your Dog is Protecting You

You’ll read a lot of articles that claim your dog might be sleeping by your feet because they want you to protect them. This likely isn’t true. If they were looking for protection, they’d curl up by your chest.

However, the opposite could be true. They might be trying to keep you safe and protected. When sleeping by your feet, they’re making sure no one can harm you at night.

5: Your Dog is Claiming You

Your dog doesn’t view you as “just another human.” He views you as “his human.” If a dog puts his bottom on your feet when sleeping next to you, he is likely “claiming” you as his — letting everyone else know that “this is my human, not yours.” As odd as this may sound, it’s kind of sweet if you think about it!

6: Your Feet Might Be Facing The Door

Are your feet facing the door? If so, your dog could be sleeping by your feet to protect you from anything coming through that door. If your feet face the door, it would be an interesting experiment to lay facing the opposite direction for a few minutes to see what your dog does.

7: Respecting You as The Alpha

Dogs are pack animals. In the wild, the leader of the pack sleeps in the most comfortable spot, and the rest of the pack sleeps close by. If your dog sleeps by your feet instead of by your chest, they might be respecting you as the leader of the pack. They don’t want it to come across as if they are trying to “steal” the leader’s spot.

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Is This Behavior Starting to Get Annoying?

Many dog owners love it when their dog sleeps by their feet. It keeps their feet warm, they enjoy being close to their dog, etc. However, it can also start to get annoying at times for the following reasons:

  • When you want to change sleeping positions, you have to practically kick your dog away.
  • When your dog begins licking their paws, they might start to lick your feet.
  • And my least favorite, when you need to get up to use the bathroom, your dog may think it’s time to get up for good and will keep you awake the rest of the night.

If this behavior is starting to become a problem, there are a few things you can do to either get your dog to sleep elsewhere on the bed or to prevent them from sleeping on your bed at all.

The Two-Step System to Get Your Dog to Stop Sleeping By Your Feet

This dog no longer sleeps in bed with the owner and now sleeps in his own bed

The best way to get your dog to stop sleeping by your feet is to get them excited about sleeping somewhere else. Right now, your dog has a positive association with sleeping by your feet. You need to create a new positive in your dog’s brain about sleeping somewhere else and a negative association with sleeping by your feet.

Step 1: Creating The Positive Association

Let’s say you want your dog to start sleeping in their crate instead of your bed. Next time they go to their crate, give them a small treat. This will eventually cause their brain to realize that sleeping in the crate means they’ll get a reward.

Step 2: Creating The Negative Association

If your dog has been sleeping in bed with you for a long time, there’s a good chance that they’ll leave the crate and jump on your bed in the middle of the night. When they do this, get out of bed and walk away. This will eventually cause their brain to realize that jumping on the bed means they don’t get to spend time with you.

This process is going to take some time. Not only are you trying to break a habit, but you’re trying to get your dog to ignore primitive instincts. Don’t expect your dog to stop trying to sleep by your feet within one or two nights. It could take 2-3 weeks before your dog begins to make these associations. This is especially true if they have been sleeping in bed with you for a couple of years.

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The key is to stay consistent with this training method. Missing a few nights can set the training back weeks.

Doesn’t Sleeping By Feet Mean Dominance?

One of the “old school” beliefs is that when a dog sleeps by your feet, they are trying to enforce their dominance over you. That they’re trying to let you know they’re the head of the pack and this bed belongs to them.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. First off, it’s incredibly rare for a dog to try to show dominance over a human. Sure, some dogs may be more aggressive, but the aggression could be for several reasons, not just dominance. Secondly, dogs that sleep by the feet are submitting to your leadership, not trying to show dominance over it.

Bottom Line – Your Dog Loves You

We listed seven reasons a dog might sleep by your feet. Notice how every single reason was positive. If your dog sleeps by your feet, take it as a sign that they love you. They are either trying to protect you or just want to spend every minute with you. Isn’t the unconditional love you receive from your dog the best!?

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