According to a popular old myth, if your dog sits or lies down between your legs, he seeks to exert control over you. This, however, is not the truth.
Many dogs develop a strong attachment to their owners and form close bonds with them. No matter where the owner goes, the dog will follow; and immediately after their owner takes a seat, the dog will lie down or sit either on their feet or between their legs. This is a very positive indication of the strong attachment and relationship you share with your canine buddy.
There are, however, additional reasons why your dog may constantly want to sit between your legs, and some of these may only occur in specific situations.
If you’re curious to learn more, keep reading to get in the know about the different reasons your dog always wants to sit between your legs.
Before we get into further detail on the reason, why exactly does your dog always sit between your legs?
When your dog sits between your legs, it may be because he perceives you as part of his pack, he wants your attention, he is terrified, he’s seeking warmth or comfort, he is suffering from separation anxiety, or he is acting protectively towards you. Alternatively, it is also possible that your dog has discovered that sitting between your legs results in a treat.
When attempting to determine why your dog is sitting between your legs, there are a variety of factors to consider. Many things can be done to address the situation if there is a problem or you are simply uncomfortable with the behavior.
Now it’s time to discuss in detail the most common reasons behind this habit and how you can go about correcting it.
The reasons why your dog will sit between your legs
1. Considering you a member of their pack
Puppies sleep all over each other to feel secure, and that same need remains as they grow up, too. Your dog may just simply consider you as part of their “pack” if they are sleeping or sitting between your legs, especially starting from their puppy days. When you become perceived as a member of their “pack” by them, they’ll always try to snuggle when they can.
2. Trying to get your attention
A dog is a man’s greatest friend, and allowing your dog to sit between your legs is one of the most effective ways for them to demonstrate how much they care about and value your presence. Doing so may also be a simple method for them to express their gratitude for your compassion, food, or attention.
If your dog is not creating any issues or discomfort, it will not hurt to allow them to enjoy the comfort of lying between your legs for a short period. It’s not much different from allowing a child to sit on your lap and simply be happy about it.
3. You unintentionally taught your dog to sit between your legs
In some circumstances, we may unintentionally promote a specific behavior in our dogs without realizing it. When we praise and reward our dogs for good behavior, whether with affection or with something they appreciate, they are more likely to repeat the behavior.
If you touch or scratch your dog’s belly while he sits or falls asleep between your legs, you are signaling your dog that you like him and that it is good for him to remain there. To put it another way, you are indirectly teaching your dog to continue to do so.
4. Your dog is anxious or scared
Your dog may get frightened by unknown surroundings, people, thunder, or any loud and unexpected noises. They will not leave your side in such a situation because it is the only place they feel safe. As close as they can get to you, often sitting right on top of your feet or placing themselves between your legs, makes them feel the safest and most protected by you.
It is also possible that your dog is sitting between your legs out of submission. In the wild, more dominant canines will demonstrate their authority by mounting other dogs in a non-sexual manner. By doing their sitting/lying down behavior with you, your dog is possibly wanting to demonstrate that you are the more dominant one by going between your legs.
6. Comfort and warmth
Dogs desire physical touch, especially when they are asleep. One of the primary reasons your dog likes to sit between your legs is the warmth and comfort it provides for them. It may also be because our legs are often nice and soft, providing them an immediate heating pad on which they can rest their tired muscles.
Furthermore, it is mutually advantageous for both you and your dog as body heat can transfer in either direction from one another. Dogs are more likely to engage in this behavior during colder seasons, which indicates that they are not warm enough and that lying between your legs is the quickest and most convenient method to warm up.
Additionally, it is important to remember that pups and many toy breeds are unable to regulate their body heat very well, especially at night or during colder seasons.
It may be possible that your dog is going between your legs because it’s trying to protect you from something. The likelihood of this happening is higher if it appears to be occurring more frequently at times when other individuals are around. A growl at unknown individuals, as they get close, would further increase the likelihood of this behavior.
8. Separation anxiety
Your dog may have separation anxiety if he or she is a “velcro” dog. When it’s time to sleep, these dogs will even snuggle up between your legs for a rest.
Pets who are anxious when you leave tend to behave in a frantic manner, such as whining, growling, pacing, or being restless. To make sure you don’t leave their side, they lie between your legs as much as possible.
The most effective method of reducing separation anxiety in your pet is to leave your dog for brief amounts of time and reward them immediately when you return. Repeat the practice several times, increasing the length of time you leave them alone each time until they become accustomed to it.
What can you do if your dog is regularly sitting between your legs?
There are a variety of things you can do to prevent your dog from becoming stuck between your legs all the time. The best course of action for your specific dog will be determined primarily by the reason behind its behavior. After sorting out the reason, the following options and tips are recommended to correct this behavior:
- Positive reinforcement training: This type of training should be used to train your dog to quit going between your legs by rewarding it when it does not go between your legs.
- Avoid negative reinforcement training: It would be beneficial to avoid rewarding your dog when it gets between your legs. Instead, give him a treat or attention only when he behaves in the manner in which you desire (i.e., times other than sitting between your legs).
- Consult with a dog trainer or behaviorist for assistance: If you are unable to determine why your dog is putting his or her legs between your legs, it would be beneficial to seek the assistance of a dog trainer or dog behaviorist.
- Please be patient: It’s crucial to be patient when you’re attempting to train your dog to quit sitting between your legs. In one training session, it is doubtful that you will be able to eliminate the undesirable behavior from your lives. However, if you practice against it consistently over several days or weeks, you will see far better outcomes.
- Provide a comfortable and secure sleeping environment (bedding): It may be possible that your dog is sitting between your legs because his sleeping area is not satisfied or secure. To ensure your dog feels comfortable and relaxed, give him his own space and bed. It needs to be a safe, comfortable environment with less rush and bustle as placing a bed in areas where a lot of traffic passes or where there is a lot of noise is not suggested.
What should I do if my dog will not sit between my legs?
Every dog has its personality, and each one communicates its devotion and unique care towards its owners differently.
You may find that your dog isn’t the most affectionate or cuddly dog in the world, but if he does appreciate sitting or sleeping close to you, that’s perfectly fine. It’s quite okay for your dog to simply enjoy your presence without the need for excessive physical interaction.
Some dogs may express their devotion in other ways, such as coming to meet you when you arrive home, bringing you his or her favorite toy, or just following you around the house from room to room.
Is it okay to punish your dog when they persistently sit between your legs?
No, it is not. When your dog does something that you don’t want him to do (like constantly going between your legs), it might be tempting to punish him for it. However, this is not encouraged and is bad for you both. If you punish your dog, he may not understand why you are punishing him, and this may cause even more trouble in the future.
Instead, it would be best to just refrain from rewarding him or her when they behaves badly and then simply employ positive reinforcement training (as mentioned above) to teach them or to act in the manner in which you desire.
Family Dog Expert Author
Hi there! I’m Stuart, a devoted dog lover and family dog expert with over a decade of experience working with our furry companions. My passion for dogs drives me to share my knowledge and expertise, helping families build strong, loving bonds with their four-legged friends. When I’m not writing for SirDoggie, you’ll find me hiking, playing with my beautiful dog, or studying music.