From night-guards of the royal families in ancient times to falling asleep on your slippers on a cold, winter night, have you ever wondered why your dog is always sitting at your feet? Their behavior is so warm, affectionate, and caring at times, it simply fascinates you. How many times has your dog fallen asleep at your feet at night and you stayed up past your bedtime because you did not want to wake them? There are several reasons why your pup just can’t seem to leave your side. Here are some of the most common explanations to why your dog insists on sitting at your feet.
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The Root of the Behavior
Did you know that Shih Tzu’s were originally bred into existence by Tibetan monks and later turned into dogs associated with the royal court during the Ming and Manchu dynasties? Turns out that, during these ancient times, dogs were used as both foot-warmers as well as night-guards to the emperor. So what does this have to do with your furry little best friend? It seems that, although some species inherited this type of behavior from their ancestors, the explanation is not entirely plausible in all cases. The most heartwarming reason for why they do this though is pure and simple… love. Yes, you guessed it! Your pup is so fond of you and your affection that he needs to be close to you at all times. Dogs prioritize the smell of their human over anyone or anything else, and that includes food. You read that right, food. So… let’s just say a love like that is hard to come across nowadays.
Another suggestion claims that dogs like to sit at their owner’s feet as a way to mark their territory. And if they happen to be typically dominant dogs, they will be more likely to exhibit this type of behavior as opposed to other breeds. Funny thing is, the same way we think we are the owners of our dogs, in their minds, it is the other way around. By sitting at your feet, your dog is telling the world you belong to them, and only them.
In other cases, it could mean that your pup is very anxious and might choose to cuddle up with you for safety and security. However, there are additional symptoms you should be looking for in this particular situation. Therefore, if your dog is anxious or stressed, look for signs of a tucked-back tail, shivering, whimpering, or cowering along with sitting at your feet.
Encouraging the Behavior
If you want to make your dog feel as comfortable as possible, you must first identify the reason behind the behavior, and only after that should you proceed to reward them accordingly. In other words, if your pup is craving your affection and undivided attention, you need to make sure he is getting them day by day. It is in their best interest to show you their unconditional love, but they do need to feel that their love is being reciprocated. Dogs do not necessarily sit at your feet out of fear, but rather because it is their way of showing that they want to keep you to themselves.
In this case, appreciate it when your pup sits at your feet and reassure him of your unconditional love in return. Think about how much this will impact your relationship and how much confidence he will gain from knowing that you are aware of their affection, and are always there to support and reward it. This will allow you to fully understand and communicate with your dog on every level, making them feel secure and protected while by your side. Make sure you are the safe haven they want to be for you, whatever the situation may be.
Other Solutions and Considerations
If your dog is exhibiting this type of behavior due to high levels of anxiety and stress, you have to identify the cause of their distress and find a proper solution. Whether he was abandoned as a pup or he is suffering from post-traumatic shock due to previous abuse, the best way to rehabilitate him is to provide him with proper care and assistance. This means that you may have to use the services of a professional therapist to help ease their way to recovery and self-confidence. In the meantime, do not forget to shower them with love and attention, day after day. Dogs need to feel they are loved, the same way they need to show their love for you.
When a dog sits at of your feet the may be marking their territory, looking for security, guarding their pack, or simply showing their unconditional love. By getting to know your dog and their every need, you form a much stronger bond with them and gain a better level of communication. So the next time they decide to turn your feet into their sleeping bed, think about it… who needs slippers when your feet are always warmed by your dog’s bum?