Your dog sleeping between your legs may be a cute thing at first but over time, it can get a bit annoying. It also may not be the cute thing you think it is as it can be due to more serious reasons.
Why Does Your Dog Sleep Between Your Legs?
There can be many reasons why your dog might sleep between your legs. It could be something as innocent as showing you affection or just because you’ve allowed the behaviour. Or it could be something more serious, such as a fear or anxiety. Either way, it’s important you know the root causes to try and nip this behaviour in the bud.
why does my dog sleep with his head on my legs?
This is their way of showing you affection. It can also help to strengthen your bond and you shouldn’t push them away in this instance as otherwise it will put them off and may make them believe you don’t love them.
why does my dog sleep behind my legs
Your dog sleeping behind your legs is more than likely due to them having separation anxiety. If they sleep behind you, this means they are able to see you so if you try to leave, they will immediately know that you are leaving. This can cause an immense amount of upset for your dog if they have separation anxiety and they see you getting up or getting ready to leave.
However, another reason behind your dog sleeping behind your legs is that they are guarding you. Your dog will start guarding you if they don’t want to share you with anyone else. For example, if you get another pet, have a baby, or if you introduce a new partner into the mix, this may likely be something your dog will dislike as they won’t want to share you.
This is particularly true if you introduce them to another dog. They want to be the only dog in your life so the idea they have to share you with another dog isn’t a nice thought for them. It will take time for them to adjust to, but eventually, they’ll get there.
13 reasons Why your Dog Sleeps Between your Legs?
The following are 13 reasons why your dog might decide to sleep between your legs:
- They find it more comfortable. When sleeping between your legs, dogs find it comforting, cozy and warm and who doesn’t want to experience this whilst they’re sleeping?
It has also been found that the physical touch between a dog and a human can help bring a sense of calm and reduce any stress either of you may be experiencing.
Also, as dogs tend to have lived in dens in the wild, this means they are more drawn towards anything that resembles a cave, so in this case, it will be your legs.
- They see you as being part of their pack. Dogs are known to be part of a pack and a part of being in a pack is sleeping together. So if your dog sleeps between your legs, or anywhere around you, this is because they see you as being part of their pack and it’s only natural for them to want to sleep around you.
- They want to protect you. Many dogs will see their owners as needing protection, therefore, when they want to go to sleep, they will sleep between your legs because they want to protect you and ensure you are safe whilst they are sleeping. You may be wondering how your dog can protect you whilst they’re sleeping.
Even though they’re asleep, they can still feel you and will be able to use their ears to listen out for any potential threats. You will know that this is the reason because if this is a new habit they’ve picked up after hearing new and strange noises, this may ramp up their need to protect you as they want to protect you from these strange sounds they’ve been hearing.
- Your dog needs protection. Alternatively to your dog wanting to protect you, they may start to sleep between your legs because they feel they need protection.
If this is the case, it may not be that they are scared of something happening to them, but that they just want to feel some sort of reassurance whilst sleeping and for them in that moment, that is feeling the touch of your legs.
- They have some sort of fear or anxiety. This will be more noticeable if they normally sleep somewhere else, such as in their bed, and then all of a sudden they start to want to sleep between your legs.
For example, you may have noticed that your dog was sleeping as normal but then got woken up by a loud noise which scares them and they want to be around something that gives them comfort and for them that’s between your legs.
Alternatively, you may just have a naturally anxious dog. There may be times where their anxiety is more heightened than normal and this means they may be more likely during these times to sleep inbetween your legs for a bit of added comfort.
- They want to show you that they love and trust you. For dogs and many other animals, touch is a sign of love. So in your dog deciding to sleep between your legs, this is their way of showing their love and affection towards you.
This is also a sign of trust. This is because if they are willing to completely fall asleep between your legs and are in a position where they won’t know what’s going on around them, they know they can trust you to protect them if anything happens.
- They might feel jealous. Dogs are more than capable of feeling a sense of jealousy, just like humans can. If you have multiple pets or even children, you’re probably more than familiar of the fact that whoever came first will be jealous of any newcomers. They get the feeling that someone else is coming into their space and taking all the attention away from them.
Obviously, this isn’t necessarily the case, however, your dog won’t know that. This is why they might start sleeping between your legs because they are trying to let the newcomer know who’s boss and also so they can keep an eye on you. If they can feel your legs, they know you’re with them and not elsewhere. It’s a possessive thing.
- Dogs enjoy burrowing. Dogs are burrowers, however, this is some more than most. For example, if you own a breed such as a terrier, you are probably more than familiar of the fact that they love to burrow.Sleeping between your legs is linked to burrowing as some dogs may decide to combine their need to burrow with their need to sleep. So if your dog is sleeping between your legs, this may be because they are combining their burrowing and sleeping skills together.
- You have accidentally encouraged your dog to sleep there. One of the main ways for dogs and humans to communicate with one another is to pick up on each other’s signals. Dogs are really good at being able to pick up on whether you are happy with them or mad at them.
The issue often is that you may initially think your dog sleeping between your legs is a one time thing so if in this instance you reward them in some way, even by doing something as innocent as petting them, they will see this as a signal for them to continue sleeping between your legs.
This is why it’s really important whenever your dog exhibits any behaviour, even if you think it’s a one time thing. If you don’t want them to repeat this, even if they’re not being bad, make it clear from the beginning what is and isn’t okay.
- They have separation anxiety. If your dog doesn’t like it when you leave and appears to become upset, they may have separation anxiety. So if they start falling asleep between your legs, this is their way of trying to ensure you stay and don’t leave them.
The way to tell if your dog has separation anxiety is if they starting pacing up and down as you’re leaving and they may even cry. This is how if you believe your dog has anxiety, you can tell whether it’s separation anxiety or if it’s down to other causes.
- To try and regulate their body heat. Puppies are unable to regulate their body heat alone. As a puppy, whilst still with their litter, they all sleep up against each other and this is due to the need to regulate their body heat. If your dog is still a young puppy that you’ve bought home from the litter, they may be sleeping between your legs as a way to regulate their body heat like they did whilst among their siblings.
- You have continued to allow it. Your dog sleeping between your legs may often be a learned behaviour and if this is something you allow, it is something they will continue to do.
- To try and keep warm. Similar to regulating their body heat, regardless of age, if your dog is cold, particularly during the colder months, they will want to try and keep warm. If they don’t have a cosy place of their own to sleep, they are likely to seek you out, which is why you should give them this comfy place to sleep so they aren’t taking up the space between your legs.
9 tips on how to stop your dog from sleeping between your legs
However, if you do find that you have allowed your dog to sleep between your legs and no longer want them to, there are ways for you to change this behaviour.
- If this behaviour seems to happen in a certain room, one of the best things you can do is not allow your dog into that room. For example, if this happens whilst you are sleeping in your bedroom, keep your bedroom door shut and don’t let your dog in, no matter how tempting it might be.
- The best way to prevent your dog from sleeping between your legs, even though it isn’t a bad thing, is to stop reinforcing the behaviour. Dogs will often do something if they know they are going to get rewarded for it, so if these rewards stop, they’ll soon get bored and go elsewhere.
- If this behaviour is due to environmental factors, such as being scared of a noise, you need to start by knowing the cause. Once you know the cause, you can offer them alternative sleeping arrangements, such as their bed or anywhere else they may find comfortable. With this, it’s whatever they prefer. It’s pointless trying to force them to sleep somewhere they don’t feel comfortable and they may grow to resent you. Try out a variety of different sleeping areas and eventually they’ll find something comforting.
- One of the most basic types of command for a dog is the lay down command. If you teach your dog to lay down in places where you want them to lay down, they will learn to know that these are the places for them to lie down and go to sleep in.
- Once they’ve got a new sleeping area, you need to positively reinforce them everytime they go into this area, particularly if they sleep in it, or even just when they lie down. It may take a while but over time, they will learn this new area is for sleeping in and not between your legs.
- If the behaviour is down to social anxiety, there are ways you can train them to become less socially anxious and to be able to be alone for extended periods of time. You can start this by starting to leave your dog alone for a short amount of time and gradually increase the time you leave them alone to the point where they are able to be alone without pacing up and down or crying whilst you’re gone.
Doing this teaches them that you will always come back as many socially anxious dogs believe that if you leave you’re not coming back. Reward them upon your return if they are behaving as this can help reinforce the good behaviour. With this, you need to learn how long you can leave them without them starting to become anxious and making a fuss. It’s normal for them to make a bit of fuss when you first leave, but if this continues until your return, you shouldn’t reward them.
- You can always buy your dog a comfortable bed if they don’t already have one. You will need to teach them that this is where they sleep which may take a bit of time, but eventually they’ll know this is where they sleep and not between your legs.
- You also need to help your dog gain confidence. This will be needed if you figure out your dog is sleeping between your legs due to feeling scared. Helping them with this will teach them that they don’t need to rely on you to protect them. This can be done through socialisation.
This is better to start earlier but it’s never too late. This opens them up to a number of experiences amongst people, animals and the environment and helps them get used to things over time.
- If you have tried all of these methods, it may be time for you to get a trainer. The trainer will be able take a closer look into where your dog is having issues and give you a more personalised training plan to help reverse this learned behaviour.
How to Get A Dog To Sleep In His Own Bed
One of the first ways to get your dog to sleep in their bed is to teach them that this is where they sleep. This is done by telling them to lay down in their bed and rewarding this behaviour. Over time, they will learn that this is the appropriate behaviour.
Ensure to buy them a bed that is comfy. It should be dry, clean and soft. It should also not be near any doors or drafts, particularly in the winter months. Finally, they should be able to fit in the bed comfortably.
If any of these aren’t adhered to, it will make your dog less likely to want to sleep in their bed, which will make your job of trying to stop them from sleeping between your legs harder.
Is It a Bad Thing for My Dog to Sleep between My Legs?
It’s not necessarily a bad thing. It completely depends on how you view this behaviour. If you know it’s something you aren’t going to mind, then you can allow it. But if you know this kind of behaviour is going to annoy you or is something you don’t want, then it’s best to prevent it from the beginning.