Why do dogs sleep at your feet?

April 13, 2012

In bygone days before the domestication of dogs, man’s best friends that used to live in the wilds would need to find a place where they could bed down for the night (and also during the day). Dogs in the wild would find a relatively sheltered and safe place. Typically it would be where there is thick vegetation where the dog will be hidden from predators. The dog would trample the grass to make the “bed” comfortable and would curl into a ball to keep warm and to conserve body heat. Dogs in a pack would sleep close to each other although the leader of the pack, the alpha male would be separated from all the other dogs lower in rank.

Nowadays, domesticated dogs no longer have to hunt for food and look for a place where they can bed down. Regular food supply as well as comfortable shelter is provided by dog owners. Pampered pets are provided by doting owners no less than pricey orthopedic dog beds complete with luxurious designer dog blankets. Some pets are even allowed to share the bed of the master. However, our furry friends still have this habit of sleeping on their owner’s feet. What can be the explanation for this quaint behavior?

Dogs are social creatures. They are also pack animals. As such they would want to cuddle and be as near as possible to the one they consider as members of the pack. A domesticated dog considers the human family as its “pack”. Aside from this dogs are loyal and affectionate pets. Cats are known to be independent of their owners. Dogs however form a strong bond with the family. Some breeds even get too attached to their master so that they would suffer from separation anxiety whenever left alone for a considerable time. These very affectionate pets became the shadow of their master; they would go wherever the master goes. Would it be surprising to see them sleep on their master’s feet?

If your dog sleeps on your feet it would mean that the dog is being submissive. The dog may not be very comfortable but it would have a sense of security. You are after all considered to the leader of the pack. A small dog that would sleep on your feet would be no trouble at all. As they say “let sleeping dogs lie”. But if your pet is a GSD, a Great Dane or any other giant breed, what would you do?

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