Dogs bring so much joy and entertainment to our lives, but even the biggest dog lovers have to admit that dogs can be rather strange from time to time. One of these “strange things” is when your dog stands on your feet.
If your dog is in the habit of standing on your feet, the question you’re probably asking yourself is, “WHY?!”
One of the myths floating around is that when a dog stands or sits on you, they’re trying to show dominance and claim their spot as Alpha. The good news is this couldn’t be further from the truth!
In today’s post, we are going to be going over the various reasons dogs stand on people’s feet. Then we will go over how to put an end to this behavior (if it’s something you want to stop).[toc]
Reasons Your Dog Stands on Your Feet
Dog behavior isn’t always easy to figure out. When a dog stands on your feet, it could mean a number of things. The funny thing is that none of the reasons seem to be related. That’s why it’s important to watch what other behavior comes along with it.
To figure out why your dog is doing this, watch their body language closely. Are they excited and wagging their tail? Or do they seem scared? Is your dog alert? Or are they relaxed? Answering these questions will help you figure out why your dog is standing on your feet. For example, one of the reasons below is because they’re excited. But if your dog’s tail is tucked between his legs, you know excitement isn’t the cause.
Take a look at the possible reasons below and figure out which one matches your dog’s body language.
1) They Want to Be Close to You
This is the most likely explanation. Dogs are pack animals and stay close together. Take a look at newborn puppies, they lay on top of each other all day. When your dog is standing on your feet with relaxed body language, they just want to be as physically close to you as possible. They probably don’t even realize they’re on your feet.
2) Reinforced Behavior
It’s completely normal and healthy for a dog to want all your attention. When your dog comes over to you because they want to be close to you, you’ll most likely look at them, start petting them, and start talking to them. Think about it from your dog’s perspective. All they know is that when they stand or sit on your feet, they get lots of love and attention. This will reinforce their belief that you WANT them to stand on your feet. They know that all they have to do is go stand or sit on your feet any time they want attention.
3) They’re Excited
If you notice this behavior usually happens when you’re about to play with your dog, go on a walk, or feed them, it could be that they’re excited and not even paying attention to their feet. When a dog gets excited, they’re focused on one thing. They seem to forget about everything else around them…including your feet!
4) They’re Not Aware of Their Back Legs
If your dog usually stands on your feet with their back legs, there’s a good chance they have no idea. Dogs’ back legs are “out of sight, out of mind.”
5) They Could Be Protecting You
Your dog views you, the human, as the pack leader. Dogs will instinctively protect the leader. When your dog stands on or near your feet, they could be protecting you and making sure no harm comes your way.
6) They Could Also Be Scared
Dogs can also look to the pack leader to protect them. So your dog may run up to you and get as close as possible when scared because you’re their safety blanket. When a dog gets as close to you as possible, this often involves standing on your feet. If you’re sitting down, a scared dog will lay on your lap.
7) They’re Showing Affection
There’s nothing better than when a dog shows you signs of affection. When your dog comes right up to your feet and leans on you, they might be asking for some cuddle time!
8) Separation Anxiety
A recent study was performed to see what percentage of dogs suffer from separation anxiety. The results were shocking. It’s estimated that around 30-40% of dogs have a mild to severe form of separation anxiety.
When your dog stands on your feet, it could be a “symptom” of separation anxiety. They want to be as close as possible to you at all times and know that wherever your feet go, you have to go. Does your dog seem a bit anxious throughout the day? Do they get depressed when you’re gone? Do you come back home to destroy furniture or chewed up pillows? If so, your dog might have separation anxiety.
9) Letting Other Dogs Know Your Theirs
If this behavior only happens when you’re around other dogs, your dog is probably just letting other dogs know that you’re theirs. This is especially true when the backside of your dog is facing you. He wants to get his “scent” on you. If you’ve spent time with another dog, and then come home to your dog, notice how your dog will spend some extra time sniffing you. He smells the other dog and isn’t happy about it!
They’re Not Trying To Be Dominant
We have just gone over the main reasons pets sometimes stand or sit on their owners feet. You may have noticed we left out, “your dog is trying to be dominant.” When your dog stands on your feet, they are not trying to be dominant.
This myth got started because when one dog sits on another dog, that can sometimes be a sign of Alpha behavior. But you can’t compare the two situations. A dog sitting on another dog is entirely different than a dog standing on your feet. As mentioned earlier, the dog probably doesn’t even realize they’re on your feet.
The only time this MIGHT be a sign of dominance is when other behavior points in that direction as well. For example, if your dog has been aggressive toward you, ignores your commands, won’t break eye contact when staring at them, excessively licks you, and is overly protective of their toys, these are all dominant signs.
But if your dog is typically friendly with you and obeys basic commands (even if you have to ask multiple times), there’s no evidence to support that your dog is showing dominance over you when standing on your feet.
Should I Let My Dog Continue To Stand On My Feet?
As long as this behavior isn’t bothering you or others, there’s no reason to stop it. However, if you’re starting to find it annoying or if it’s starting to hurt when they step on your foot, you can put an end to this habit through proper training.
Step 1: Stop Showing Positive Attention
Up to this point, you’ve probably talked to and pet your dog each time they stand on your feet. It’s hard not to! When your dog is standing on your feet and looking up at you with those sweet eyes, all you want to do is pet them and tell them how cute they are.
The problem is this is reinforcing the behavior. Each time you do this, your dog thinks you want them to stand on your feet because they get praise each time they do. Make sure you show no attention to your dog next time they stand on your feet.
Step 2: Give The “No Feet” Command
When they stand on your feet, push them away, say “no feet,” and immediately walk away and go into another room. Close the door behind you so your dog can’t get in.
Eventually, your dog will learn that standing or stepping on feet means people will leave. If your dog accidentally stands on someone’s foot, all you’ll have to do is say “no feet.” That command will remind your dog to back off.
Don’t Use Treats
Most of our dog training methods involve treats. However, when correcting negative behavior, we do not recommend using treats.
For example, let’s pretend you followed the advice in step two and pushed your dog away while saying “no feet.” If you gave your dog a treat immediately after, your dog will begin thinking that to get a treat, they need to first stand on your feet then back off. They’ll think standing on your feet is what you want.
That’s why we recommend walking away instead of giving a treat. When you ignore your dog and walk away, they’ll eventually learn that you walk away each time they step on your feet.
The answer to this question is simple…your dog probably doesn’t even realize they’re standing on your feet. However, some dogs learn that standing on feet usually means positive attention. If you want to break this habit, just follow our simple two-step method. It takes time and patience, but it works!