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Why Does My Dog Sit on My Feet?

Learn why some dogs on leashes sit on their owners’ feet.

Does your dog sit on your feet or back up to sit between your legs when you're out and about and people approach the two of you? Or maybe you've seen other dogs do this. What does it mean?

Dog Behavior Can Be Tricky to Interpret

When people see a dog sitting between their owner's legs or right on their feet, they often interpret it as protectiveness. That misinterpretation can be cemented when the dog growls if someone approaches.

But the truth is that a dog that is engaging in this behavior is almost always feeling anxious. Being as close as possible to the owner, including right under or on top of them, helps the dog feel safer.

That isn't to say that dog may not bite if approached—they certainly may. But it's not usually aggressiveness, dominance, or protectiveness that causes the bite in this circumstance. It's fear and anxiety. A dog backing up to sit under or on top of their owner should not be approached.

Of course, not all feet-sitting is anxiety. If a dog tends to be underfoot at all times in the home, it may have to do with anxiety, but it can also relate to boredom or being territorial of the owner against other pets in the home.

Other Signs of Anxiety in Dogs

Other signs of anxiety in a dog that is sitting on the owner's feet may include:

  • Yawning
  • Licking the lips
  • Whining
  • Tucking the tail
  • Ducking the head
  • Rolling on the back submissively
  • Submissively urinating

Most dogs will show at least a couple of signs of anxiety concurrently.

How to Help an Anxious Dog

If your dog is anxious when approached by people when you go for walks, there are a few things you can do to help.

One thing you can do is set up training sessions with a trusted friend in an area where no one else will wander past. Have your friend start far away and reward your dog for acting calm. Gradually, have the person approach more closely. Tell your dog to sit (not on your feet) and reward him for doing so and acting calm.

Over time, you can have your friend get closer and closer, always giving your dog a reward and praise for calm behavior. Ignore anxious behavior and redirect the dog to calmness y having him sit and pay attention to you.

Every dog is different in how long it will take them to relax and feel less anxious about being approached by people when on-leash. In the meantime, always take care and make sure people don't approach your dog and risk a bite.

Other Anxieties in Dogs

If your dog is anxious about people approaching while you're leash walking, he may very well have other anxieties too. Here are some other articles to learn more about anxiety in dogs:

You May Also Like These Articles:

How to Cope with Canine Anxiety and Fear by Using Adaptil(TM) (Formerly called D.A.P)

Separation Anxiety in Dogs

How to Help a Dog with Anxiety

Signs of Anxiety in Dogs

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