What is one of the most iconic behaviors that dogs are known for? And no, not fetching. Any second guesses? It’s sleeping at your feet!
It’s been debated amongst owners about why exactly a dog will opt to sleep by your feet rather then in their own bed.
For the majority of us, it’s quite the touching gesture. We feel special because of it. But, are dogs actually doing it out of love, or for something else entirely?
Why Do Dogs Sleep At Your Feet?
Dogs will sleep at their owner’s feet due to temperature, roominess, submission, protection, and simply because they want to be near you.
1. The Cooler Side
Dogs sometimes prefer this spot due to temperature alone. Most dogs have enough body heat and fur to solve any chilly night problems. They don’t necessarily need yours as well.
Think about when you get into bed. Which body parts are the coldest? I don’t know about you, but in the winter, my feet can get quite cold.
The majority of the heat in a bed is towards the middle and upper portions.
Whenever you talk to a dog owner about where their canine friend migrates to in terms of the bed, it’s oftentimes at the end where it’s slightly cooler.
If you had your own permanent coat on whilst in the bed, would you want to sleep under lots of warm blankets? Likely not! It makes sense for dogs to be in a colder spot.
2. Down By the Feet is Roomier
Another aspect to consider is the shear amount of space that is taken up when you are settled in bed. It’s enough to make your dog second-guess where they’d rather stretch out and relax.
Even one fully-grown adult human in the bed makes it tricky for Fido to scoot up near the pillows. When you ask how most people sleep, it’s oftentimes curled up in some way or another, meaning that there is free space towards the end of the bed.
It’s also not uncommon for humans to shift around in their sleep. To avoid being rustled or kicked, a dog may find it more peaceful to find a spot that is out of harm’s way.
3. Keeping Close for Reassurance
Ever had a child come into your room when they need soothing? Perhaps from a bad dream or some sound that they heard? Dogs do the same, just in a different way.
There are things that dogs fear in the middle of the night, especially if the furry household member has any pre-existing anxiety. When something feels off, they could keep close for a little company and stress relief.
Dogs aren’t the only ones who need reassurance. Canines are known for being incredibly observant when it comes to their humans.
If you’re feeling particularly sad, your dog may opt to sleep at your feet rather then off in the corner where their own bed lies.
4. Sign of Submission
Looking at the structure of any pack, it’s pretty obvious who’s in charge. The leader chooses which spot they want to take as their own while the rest gather around.
Even though dogs have been domesticated, they still exhibit signs of submitting to their owners. It just isn’t as extreme.
Sleeping at your feet is a way of saying that they respect you as the leader of the house. Think about it from your dog’s perspective. What’s more challenging in terms of a place to sleep?
That would be near your head. The most respectful spot is down by your feet, away from the face.
5. Feeling the Need to Protect
One of the reasons why people go about finding a dog to add to their household is because of safety.
Some canines take this role more seriously than others. Interestingly enough, those who are true guardians have a specific spot in which they rest.
Dogs who want to protect their humans will lie down in a location that allows them to react at a moment’s notice. It would be harder for them to protect you if they were resting towards the middle of the bed.
At the foot of the bed, a vigilant guard dog could jump off and pursue investigating the intruder.
6.Needing to Be Protected By You
We’ve touched on the fact that sleeping towards your feet is an easier spot to defend you, but some dogs migrate to this location because of the opposite.
As with just about any living being, there may be times where a dog feels uneasy or anxious. As the leader of the “pack”, you’re able to keep a close eye over things happening.
Anxious dogs will prefer to keep within a certain distance of their owner for their overall sense of safety.
Interestingly enough, you can gauge just how insecure a dog is based on not only where they’re lying down, but also the position in which they are doing this.
Are their paws tucked in tightly to their frame, or are they sprawled out? A curled up body would normally suggest that a dog is rather unsure or timid about anything going on in their environment.
Looking for these cues can give you a leg up in comforting your canine pal!
Is This a Bad Behavior?
There have been plenty of debates behind whether or not you should allow your dog to sleep at the foot of the bed. Are there situations where this could be potentially dangerous?
The simple response to that question is yes. We mentioned that one of the reasons as to why Fido may be at your feet is because they want to protect you.
This is just about the only scenario that can lead to risks. A dog that becomes overly protective can snap out at someone who decides to approach you.
We suggest seeking out a professional trainer immediately if you see any signs of your dog exhibiting this behavior.
The Feet Sleeper: Final Thoughts
Some dogs want to sleep by your feet simply because they want to be by your side, but there are other reasons as well. The foot of the bed is both cooler and roomier.
It’s also a way to offer reassurance while being respectful, submissive, and protected by their leader, which is you. Another reason may be that they want to protect you and keep an eye on things.
Be wary of this behavior as it can escalate rather quickly.
Frequently Asked Questions About Dogs and Sleeping Near the Feet
Why does my dog lick my feet when I sleep?
This action may be used as a self-soothing technique, to kill boredom, or even a way of getting salt from your skin.
Why do dogs sleep at your head?
Dogs can actually sleep at the head of the bed for the same reasons as they do for at your feet. Small dogs generally will do this to keep warm at night while large breeds want to keep close or protect.
Why do dogs sit on your feet?
More often then not, a dog will sit on your feet because they are nervous or want to keep close. It’s also a sure way to get attention that they want!