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Why Does My Dog Sleep Between My Legs? Here’s 12 Reasons

Dogs are well-known for their ability to find the perfect spot for a nap, whether it is a sunny spot in the middle of a room or a cool spot in the house.

However, sometimes they may choose spots that seem less comfortable, such as curling up between their owner’s legs or even crawling under the covers. Why do dogs like to sleep in this position?

There are several reasons why a dog may choose to sleep between their owner’s legs.

Some dogs may do it because they find it warm and comfortable, while others may do it because they consider their owner to be an important member of their pack. In some cases, a dog may sleep between the legs because they are fearful, anxious, or simply find the feeling of their owner’s legs against them to be soothing.

In this article we’ll discuss several reasons why you may find your dog likes to nestle between your legs.

10 Reasons Why Your Dog Sleeps Between Your Legs

Let’s get going with our list!

Your Dog Finds It Comfortable

One of the most basic reasons is that it is simply a comfortable and cozy spot for them.

The warmth of their owner’s legs and the surface they are lying on can be very inviting for a dog, and the physical contact can provide a sense of calmness and reduce stress.

Also, as natural den animals, dogs may be drawn to the feeling of being “enclosed” in the space between the legs, which can satisfy their instinct to seek out a den-like space.

They Are Protecting You

In some cases, a dog may sleep between their owner’s legs as a way to provide protection.

If the dog feels that their owner is in need of extra security, they may position themselves between the legs in order to keep an eye on the surrounding environment and detect potential threats.

This behavior may be more common if there are new or unfamiliar noises, guests, or other changes in the environment that the dog perceives as potentially threatening.

To determine if this is the reason for your dog’s sleeping habits, it may be helpful to consider what has changed in their environment before they started sleeping between your legs.

If there have been any new noises, guests, or other changes that could potentially be concerning to your dog, this may be a sign that they are trying to provide protection for you.

However, if there have been no significant changes and your dog is simply choosing to sleep in this position, it is likely for one of the other reasons discussed in this article.

They Could Be Jealous

If your household has more than one pet, it is possible that your dog may be feeling jealous of the other animal. This is particularly common if the other pet is a new addition to the family.

In order to cope with this jealousy, your dog may try to sleep as close to you as possible in order to always be in your line of sight.

This behavior may be a way for them to assert their position as a valued member of the family and to prevent the other pet from getting too close to you.

Your Dog Wants Your Protection

When a dog sleeps between their owner’s legs, they may be seeking out a feeling of protection. In the wild, dogs would sleep close to their pack in order to stay safe from predators.

By sleeping between their owner’s legs, a dog may be indicating that they view their owner as a member of their pack and trust them to keep them safe. This behavior can be a sign of affection and trust, and is a way for the dog to show their devotion to their owner.

If your dog sleeps in this position, it may be a good idea to give them a little extra affection and reassurance to let them know that they are valued and protected.

They Could Be Sick or Injured

When a dog is sick or injured, they tend to sleep more than usual. This is because their body is working hard to repair itself, which requires a lot of energy.

In addition, sleep helps the body to heal by releasing hormones that promote cell growth and repair. By getting extra rest, a dog is giving their body the best chance to recover.

Furthermore, sleeping close to their owner provides them with comfort and security during a difficult time. If your dog is sleeping more than usual, it is likely because they are not feeling well. With some rest and care, they will be back to their normal self in no time.

You Are Part Of The Pack

As pack animals, dogs tend to stay close to others and work as a team. They also view their owners as leaders, so sleeping between the legs can make them feel safe.

If you want your dog to stop sleeping between your legs or under the covers, there are a few methods you can try. One way is to reward them every time they do what you want, and stop rewarding them when they sleep between your legs.

Another method is to avoid giving them attention and get them out from between your legs until they stop. Finally, you can make sure they have a good place to rest.

These methods can help your dog learn that there are more appropriate places for them to sleep.

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Emotional Support

Dogs, like humans, need emotional support when they are feeling insecure, injured, tired, unwell, or anxious. They may choose to sleep between their owner’s legs as a way to seek out emotional support.

According to Coren, a psychology professor who wrote the book The Intelligence of Dogs, dogs can experience emotions such as depression or sadness. This is because they have similar brain structures and produce emotions like humans.

However, they are not capable of more complex emotions such as shame and guilt.

When a dog is feeling sad or depressed, they may exhibit symptoms such as appetite loss, difficulty sleeping, lethargy, or a lack of interest in social interaction.

By providing emotional support and comfort, their owner can help the dog to feel better and support their emotional well-being.

Fear or Anxiety

If your dog typically sleeps in a certain spot but suddenly decides to curl up between your legs during a thunderstorm or other loud noise, it is likely that fear is the cause.

This behavior may also be seen in dogs that are naturally shy, as they may need the reassurance of sleeping between their owner’s legs in order to feel relaxed.

In some cases, a dog may simply prefer to follow their owner around at all times, and while this is not necessarily a result of anxiety, it can be. This explanation is most likely to apply if your dog suddenly wants to sleep with you and cannot seem to get close enough.

You Unintentionally Trained Them To

Another explanation is that you may have accidentally trained your dog to do this through reinforcement.

For example, if you reward your dog with affection when they sleep between your legs or under the covers, they may be more likely to repeat this behavior in the future.

This is because they will associate this behavior with receiving positive reinforcement from you, such as scratches on the belly or cuddles. Over time, this can become a habit for your dog.

They Are Showing You Love

Touch is a common way that animals show love, and dogs are no exception. When a dog sleeps between their owner’s legs, they are expressing their love through touch and also showing trust by choosing to sleep next to you.

While this behavior may not be conducive to a good night’s sleep for the owner, it is still a sign of affection and should be appreciated. By allowing your dog to sleep between your legs, you are fostering their trust and strengthening your bond.

They Like To Burrow

Some breeds of dogs, such as terriers and their relatives, are more likely to dig and burrow than others. This is because they were bred to sniff out and dig out critters. Other breeds, such as huskies, are natural diggers who would dig holes to sleep in during cold nights in the Arctic.

When it comes to sleeping between their owner’s legs, some dogs may combine their natural digging instincts with their desire to find the perfect spot to sleep. They may crawl under the covers and find the warmest spot to be the space between their owner’s legs.

This behavior may be more common in breeds with a history of digging and burrowing, but any dog may exhibit it if they have a strong desire to sleep in a cozy spot.

Separation Anxiety

It is possible that your dog has separation anxiety if they become anxious when you are about to leave. This may manifest in behaviors such as pacing or crying. In addition, if your dog follows you around the house, this could be a sign of separation anxiety.

However, this behavior could also be due to other factors, such as a desire for food or attention. If your dog does not exhibit anxiety when you are not around, it is less likely that separation anxiety is the cause of their behavior.

Is It Bad That My Dog Sleeps Between My Legs?

In general, having your dog sleep between your legs is not a terrible thing. Either they are expressing their affection for you or they are attempting to protect you.

If you notice your dog is always nervous or lonely, it may be cause for worry.

Your pets’ anxiety may potentially trigger depression. You must thus exercise caution and keep a close eye on his actions as a dog parent.

If he has ever had separation anxiety or a serious accident, he may still be experiencing trauma. That could be why he is sleeping between your legs.  

To get him well as soon as possible in this situation, you should see a veterinarian. Also, if your dog is large, you should exercise some caution since it can accidently injure you.

How To Stop Your Dog From Sleeping Between Your Legs

If you would prefer your dog to not sleep between your legs, here are some things you can do:

Train Them

To prevent your dog from sleeping between your legs, it is important to train them to sleep in a designated area. This could be a bed or crate that is reserved for them.

Every time your dog tries to sleep between your legs, redirect them to their own sleeping area. You can make this area more appealing by providing comfortable bedding and toys for them to play with.

By consistently redirecting your dog to their own sleeping area, they will learn where they are supposed to sleep and be less likely to curl up between your legs.

Do Not Reinforce Their Behavior

To discourage your dog from sleeping between your legs, it is important to not reinforce the behavior.

This means not giving your dog any verbal praise, petting, or treats when they try to sleep between your legs. Instead, try to stay neutral and ignore the behavior. Over time, your dog will learn that sleeping between your legs is not a desirable behavior and will be less likely to do it.

It is important to avoid using negative reinforcement or punishment, as this can cause your dog to become anxious or scared. Instead, focus on redirecting your dog to their own designated sleeping area.

Change Locations

You can also try to avoid staying in one place for too long.

Whenever you see your dog approaching you with the intention of sleeping between your legs, get up and move to a different location. This will make it difficult for your dog to establish the behavior.

By consistently moving around, your dog will eventually stop trying to sleep between your legs. Over time, this will help to break the habit.

Teach Your Dog To “Lay Down”

If you want your dog to stop sleeping between your legs, you can teach them a “Lay Down” command. This will give them a designated spot to nap and will let them know where to go.

If your dog does not already know this command, you can use a video or other resource to help teach it. Once your dog knows the command, you can use it to redirect them to their own bed or designated sleeping area instead of between your legs.

This will help them understand that sleeping between your legs is not a desirable behavior.

Before You Go

Ultimately, whether or not you want to allow your dog to sleep between your legs is up to you and what works best for your situation.

But by understanding the reasons why they might want to sleep there and how to modify the behavior, you can make a decision that’s best for both you and your furry friend.

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