Being curled up in the arms of your loved one sounds blissful, right? The simple action is warm, comfortable, and makes you feel safe.
Your furry friends also seek this kind of comfort and security. And so, you will often find them cuddling up to you, burrowing themselves under your blanket, or sleeping between your legs.
Have you wondered why do dogs sleep between your legs? Should you allow them to do so? Is it safe for the dogs?
- Why Do Dogs Sleep Between Your Legs?- 10 Reasons
- 1. You Are Your Dog’s Safe Haven
- 2. It is the Dog’s Love Language
- 3. It is Warm and Comfortable
- 4. The Instinctive Burrowing Behavior
- 5. It is in a Protective Mode
- 6. Your Dog is Scared
- 7. It Treats You as a Part of the Pack
- 8. Your Dog is Super Clingy
- 9. You Reinforced the Behavior
- 10. The Dog is ‘Green with Envy’
- 11. Is it Safe for Dogs to Sleep Between Your Legs?
- 12. Do You Want the Dog to Sleep Between Your Legs?
- How Can You Stop the Dog From Sleeping Between Your Legs?
Why Do Dogs Sleep Between Your Legs?- 10 Reasons
Understanding the cause behind this behavior is important so you can respond better to your pet’s needs, here are ten possible reasons your dog likes to nestle and sleep between your legs.
1. You Are Your Dog’s Safe Haven
Your dog is loyal to you, cares for you, and loves you. They trust you enough that they can comfortably go off to sleep near you. They feel safe knowing that you are around to keep them away from any danger.
Puppies typically tend to consider their owner as their own mother. They learn to spot you from a sea of strangers. They look up to you as their provider. They will try to develop an emotional bond with you. If your puppy has started to sleep between your legs, it could mean they trust you.
2. It is the Dog’s Love Language
Another endearing reason why dogs like to tuck themselves between your legs is love. By being near you, or in this case, on top of you, they show their love towards you.
Regardless of your dog’s age, it will always crave love and attention from you. Some dogs will need physical contact in the form of petting, touching, hugging, and cuddling. It is how they bond with you. They enjoy being close to you.
For example, Retrievers, Pugs, Newfoundlands, Bulldogs, and Great Danes, among others, are some of the most affectionate dog breeds. It is common for them to touch you, sit on your lap, or sleep between your legs to show affection.
3. It is Warm and Comfortable
Do you like cuddling? Well, so does your dog, especially on those cold winter nights. Human legs are soft and fleshy. They are the perfect spot to curl around and nap. The heat from your legs can quickly warm up your pet.
If you have noticed a litter of puppies, they tend to pile up while sleeping. This is because they are seeking warmth from each other.
This behavior may also be good for you. Did you know that touching animals can help improve mood, reduce stress and also improve cardiovascular health in humans? Your dog may have its own bed, but it better be a good bed to match the warmth and comfort your legs provide.
4. The Instinctive Burrowing Behavior
Burrowing is a behavior that dogs have inherited from their wild ancestors. Dogs would burrow to protect their young ones from predators. Burrows could keep food safe. It would also serve as a sheltering space during harsh weather conditions.
Dogs may not need to burrow today for these reasons, but it is a trait that is ingrained in them. You do not have to train the pet to burrow; it comes naturally to them.
All dogs tend to burrow, some more than others. For example, Huskies, Dachshunds, Terriers, and Beagles are a few dog breeds that love to burrow the most. You will find these dogs trying to burrow under blankets or settle neatly between your legs.
5. It is in a Protective Mode
Dogs treat you like you are a part of their pack. So it is natural for them to feel protective towards you. If you consider wolves, one of the dog’s closest relatives, they have a strong protective instinct towards their pack. Domesticated dogs have also inherited this trait.
A dog may sit between your legs to assess the environment with its back facing you. This position gives them a better view. They can spot any threats and deal with them quicker this way.
So, sitting or sleeping between your legs is the dog’s way of telling you, ‘I will protect you.’ Be careful, though; protection should not turn into aggression. If you find the dog lunging at new visitors and disobeying your commands, the behavior should be highly discouraged.
6. Your Dog is Scared
Your dog may always want to protect you, but sometimes it will need the same protection from you. Do not get confused by the large build of your dog. Pets of any shape or size can get scared.
Loud noises like the ones during thunderstorms or fireworks can scare your dog. Some dog breeds take time adjusting to new places. For example, if you move homes, the most familiar aspect of the new home would be you. So it is natural for them to seek you out.
Some dog breeds are afraid of strangers. If the dog is not well-socialized or has a history of abuse, new visitors will scare it off. So it will run and hide between your legs to feel safe.
If the reason is fear, you need to figure out the trigger. You can then find alternative ways of helping your dog deal with fear.
7. It Treats You as a Part of the Pack
A pack is an important social structure in the canine world. It is how the animals hunt, protect and stay together. Staying alone can make them vulnerable.
Today, you can find several households with single dogs. Domesticated dogs no longer live in packs. But, they still have several pack traits ingrained in them, just like burrowing.
Dogs do understand that you are a different species, but you are the family it stays with. You provide the dog with food and shelter. So, it considers you as a pack member. And sleeping on one another is common pack behavior.
8. Your Dog is Super Clingy
Some dog breeds are independent. They would be fine if you left them alone during the day. And in the evenings you play and spend time with them. These dogs will be happy with such a routine.
On the other hand, there are dog breeds like Vizsla, Maltese, Pug, and Shetland Sheepdog, among others, that are super clingy. They would want your undivided attention at all times. So you take them out for a walk, play with them, pet them, and at the end of the day, they will still want your attention.
These dogs will show their need for attention by climbing and settling between your legs, facing you. This is why you should research the breed before bringing the dog home.
9. You Reinforced the Behavior
Why do dogs sleep between your legs? Maybe because you encouraged the behavior. Think back in time; when your dog first started to sleep between your legs, what did you do? Did you pet the dog because it was such a cute habit? Did you shower it with love and praises? If yes, then you encouraged this behavior in your pet.
Now, your dog thinks that settling between your legs is a way to get affection from you. Your dog always looks for the type of reaction you give. You may have innocently encouraged the behavior to turn into a habit.
10. The Dog is ‘Green with Envy’
Can dogs get jealous? Oh boy, yes, they can get jealous. There are studies that prove this. When out for a walk, if you try to pet another dog, your dog could pull on the leash or start barking. Dogs show jealous behavior when they see you interact with a potential rival.
Now, who can be a potential rival? It could be a new dog or a new pet in the house. It could also be a newborn baby. The attention that it used to receive earlier is now divided between other animals and humans.
Your dog could sit on your lap or sleep between your legs to not let its rival come close to you. You will have to train your dog and help build a positive bond between your dog and the new arrival.
11. Is it Safe for Dogs to Sleep Between Your Legs?
If your dog is taking a nap between your legs during the day while you are awake, it is safe for the dog to do so. At night though, you need to be careful.
For example, if you are the kind of sleeper who moves around a lot, you can unintentionally hurt the dog. A kick to the face or belly is quite possible.
If you have a small dog, it can easily get caught between your legs. Or it may have difficulty breathing from being under those covers and being squished between your legs.
When dogs burrow under blankets, they typically get out when they feel hot or start breathing funny. But it is a risk that you can easily avoid.
12. Do You Want the Dog to Sleep Between Your Legs?
The answer is your personal preference. Can you sleep comfortably through the night with the dog between your legs? Can you ensure the dog’s safety?
If yes, there is no harm in letting the dog sleep with you. Some studies show having a dog in bed can help relieve insomnia. But instead of your legs, maybe you can designate a section of the bed for your dog.
With bigger dogs, the problem is that they can unintentionally hurt you while moving around. In addition, the weight of the dog can make you uncomfortable. It could affect your sleep quality.
It would help if you gave your sleep priority. However, do not think of the decision as a punishment to the dog. It is ok to set boundaries, so you and the dog can get a good night’s rest.
How Can You Stop the Dog From Sleeping Between Your Legs?
Why do dogs sleep between your legs? The reasons range from love and nervousness to the desire to get your undivided attention. But, if you wish to change this habit, below are some tips that can help.
1. Understand the Reason Behind the Behavior
Once you know why your dog is indulging in this behavior, you can take action to help it better. For example, if your dog gets scared when you get new visitors, you need to invest time in socializing with your dog. Create a separate space the dog can call its own.
If you are bringing home a new dog, you need to introduce them gradually and with positive reinforcements, so your old dog does not develop feelings of jealousy.
Use the reasons mentioned above to understand why your dog is choosing to sleep between your legs. Then, find an alternative solution to the problem.
2.Get the Dog a Comfortable Bed
If you do not want the dog to sneak into your bed, invest in a comfortable dog bed that your pet would love to sleep in.
Consider your dog’s length and weight when buying a bed. A bed too small or even big will lead to poor sleep quality. Your dog may refuse to sleep in a bed that is not the right size. The bed should be soft and sufficiently padded.
Think about the material and the weather of the place. There are faux fur, polyester, memory foam, orthopedic, suede, etc., materials available. For example, a polyester bed in warm weather is not a good choice. Your dog will feel terribly hot during the summers.
Make sure to wash the bed regularly. Keep the surrounding area of the bed also clean. You can place the dog bed in your bedroom so that you can be close to the pet in case needed.
3. Train the Dog to Sleep In Its Bed
Once you have got the dog a bed, it is time to train them to sleep in it. Using commands such as ‘lay down’ and rewarding the behavior with treats can help. When your dog is sleepy, you can command it to ‘go to bed’ while pointing at its bed. When the dog gets to the bed, give it a treat.
Be gentle but firm with your commands. It will take a couple of weeks of consistent training to get the dog to sleep in its bed. If the dog does climb into your bed at night, do not punish them. Instead, ask them to return to their bed. You could place a treat on its bed for encouragement.
4. Do Not Let the Dog Inside the Bedroom
If getting a comfortable bed and training does not help, you may have to let the dog know that your bedroom is off-limits. Please do not feel guilty about this decision.
You can take care of the dog only when you are in good health and getting enough sleep. If your sleep gets disturbed every night because of the dog, you could be cranky throughout the day and inadvertently get impatient with the dog.
Use obedience training, tape to draw clear or pet fences. You can place the dog bed near your bedroom to reach the doboundaries g quickly in case of an emergency.
Bonus Read: Ultimate Guide To Dog Health
5.Do Not Encourage the Behavior
The next time the dog tries to climb between your legs, tell it a firm no. If you do not say no, it will think it is ok to continue with this behavior. Command your dog to stay and divert its attention to the alternate solution.
For example, if your dog is always in a protective mode, scan the environment, and give it toys and puzzles to keep it busy. Use distractions.
The distraction method works for clingy dogs as well. Increase their exercise time. When at home, keep them busy with activities. Your dog will be tired of following you around. They will also be more receptive to your commands.
Why do dogs sleep between your legs? Your dog is most happy when it is spending time with you. Sleeping between your legs could mean it is expressing its love, treating you as a pack member, and protecting you. But, on the other hand, it could also mean your dog is scared or anxious and looking to feel safe, tucked between your legs.
The straightforward explanation for this behavior is that your dog wants some warmth and comfort. And your legs are the perfect spot to sleep in.
Whether you allow your dog to continue with the habit is your personal choice. However, if you want to change this habit, discouraging the behavior, getting it a comfortable bed, and training the dog to sleep in it can help.
Heather Abraham is a professional blogger who owns two dogs, a cat, a parrot, and a leopard gecko. She has a connection with animals since she was a child. She shares her love for all pet breeds and provides information on pet food, toys, medications, beds, and everything else.
She is committed to learning about the internal workings of animals. Her work permits her to work closely with knowledgeable vets and obtain practical expertise in animal care. When she is not working, her love of animals continues in her writing. Her goal is to educate and uplift readers who also have a passion for animals through her writing.