Why Does My Dog Sleep Between My Legs? Reasons & how to stop

Why does my dog sleep between my legs
Why does my dog sleep between my legs

Dogs have several weird behaviors unique to them. They sniff crotches, eat strange things, and rub their butt on the floor. And for some strange reason, they love sleeping between our legs. Does your dog sleep in this position too? 

Wondering why they do that? Or how you can stop it? 

In this post, you’ll learn:

  • reasons your dog loves to sleep between your legs
  • how to stop your dog from sleeping between your legs

Sleeping between their owner’s legs is a common behavior for a dog. It is part of their pack behavior, makes them warm and comfy, and reassures them if they are scared. Sometimes, dogs like to cuddle between the legs of their owners because they need emotional support or instinctively like burrowing.

Reasons Your Dog Sleeps Between Your Legs? 

Here are 6 reasons why your dog likes to sleep between your legs. 

1. Dogs have a pack instinct

Dogs have a pack instinct that is ingrained in their DNA. In the wild, dogs sleep with other canines to keep each other warm and safe from predators.

They also sleep this way because it provides comfort and security. Sleeping between your legs is a natural instinct for your dog as well as a sign of love and trust – giving you some serious cuddle time!

2. It’s warm and comfy there

Your dog probably enjoys sleeping between your legs because it’s warm and comfortable there. 

Human’s legs are soft, fleshy, and warm. They make for a perfect heating pad, especially during cold weather.

If your dog is not warm enough, sleeping between your legs is the quickest, easiest way for it to get snug. 

And the best part? You too benefit from this arrangement.

When your dog touches your leg, it transfers some of its body heat, making them even warmer. So, it’s win-win situation for both. 

3. Your dog may be scared

Your dog may be sleeping between your legs because it’s scared.

Fear and anxiety, more often than not, can quickly send your dog running to you.

Dogs like to stay close to their owners when scared.

Close proximity with you makes them feel safe and reassured. 

And it’s not just small dogs, like chihuahuas, that can feel intimidated and anxious from time to time.

Large dogs too can exhibit fearful behavior. 

For example, most dogs are afraid of loud noises, firecrackers, gunshots, thunderstorms, and fireworks.

My dog, Victor, a toy poodle cross, is terrified of storms and will come up onto our bed shaking and trembling, looking for support.

Apart from loud noises, dogs can get scared by: 

  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Unfamiliar people
  • Car rides
  • Children
  • Hats

Feeling scared once in a while is normal.

But if your dog is constantly anxious, that could be indicative of an underlying problem.

Look out for these tell-tale signs that your dog is scared: 

  • Pacing
  • Hiding
  • Barking
  • Growling
  • Lip Licking
  • Running away
  • Trembling
  • Tucking the tail between the legs
  • Ears tilted back
  • Head down

4. They are looking for emotional support

Just like us, dogs can get sad or depressed.

In fact, the symptoms of depression in dogs are similar to those exhibited by people. 

These include: 

  • Low activity levels
  • A change in sleeping and/or eating habits
  • Lack of motivation to engage in social interaction

During such times, dogs need emotional support. Since dogs are highly social animals, they like being around people. 

If your dog is stressed or sad and you are around, it may want to cuddle between your legs. That makes it feel protected and loved. 

5. Dogs instinctively love to burrow

Some dogs, like Daschunds and Terriers, enjoy being burrowed under blankets. When a dog is tucked under the sheets, it feels surrounded and swaddled, which can be comforting. 

If your dog likes to burrow, sleeping between your legs can be a great option for it. It ensures that they will not only be under the covers all night, but will also enjoy the added comfort of being nestled close to you. 

6. Separation anxiety

Many people may wonder why their dog sleeps between their legs.

While it may seem like the most vulnerable position to sleep in, this can be a sign of separation anxiety and should be treated as such.

Separation anxiety can cause serious distress for your dog so it’s important that you know how to recognize the signs and fix them if necessary. 

While dogs are pack animals by nature, they also have individual personalities just like humans do!

Some dogs will naturally prefer sleeping next to another person or animal while others prefer being alone in order to get some shut-eye.

If your dog has always slept on his own pillow but suddenly starts sleeping at the foot of your bed every night without fail, he might be showing signs of separation anxiety when you’re not home.

There are many symptoms associated with separation anxiety in dogs, all of which will make you think that your dog is feeling lonely and vulnerable without you there to protect him.

Some symptoms include:

  • whining
  • barking for no reason at odd hours of the day
  • howling
  • destructive behavior (such as breaking down doors or chewing up furniture)
  • pacing around the house
  • urinating or defecating in the house
  • hiding

If you notice any of these symptoms when you’re not home but your dog is comfortably lounging around when you are there, he may be trying to communicate with you about his lonely feelings.

Some people might think that their dog is just “naughty” because he’s not feeling well if their dog is barking aggressively, but it could be that your dog wants you to stay home with him! 

Don’t ignore these signs of separation anxiety. Your dog is telling you something and it’s important to listen to what he has to say.

How To Get Your Dog To Stop Sleeping Between Your Legs

There are many things that you can do to prevent your dog from sleeping between your legs. 

1. Give your dog a nice warm bed in your bedroom

I like our dog Victor, a toy poodle cross, sleeping in our bedroom. It means he is in a nice warm space and it helps to limit his barking at night. We have deer, foxes, and people walking around all night long so he has plenty to bark at.

Victor is an inside dog so it works well for our family. He has a bed with raised sides to give extra warmth and it is made of a nice snuggly material, not a rough scratchy material.

He loves the raised sides and uses the raised parts as a pillow, he has the most adorable dog sleeping positions in his bed. His common sleeping position is curled up nice and tight snuggled into his blanket.

It is very important not to get a bed that is too large for your dog. When dogs are cold a common position is to curl up into a nice tight circle.

To keep them nice and warm, size the bed for when they are curled up. 

When Victor wants to stretch out when he gets too hot, his favorite position is in a belly up position with his legs extended.

Recommended Product:

This is an affiliate link to Amazon and we may get a commission if a purchase is made.

This is the style of bed that my dog loves. It is made of material that keeps him comfortable, it has a heating pad and it is washable. The raised sides help keep him warmer and imitate snuggling up with someone.

Please remember these types of beds are only recommended for inside, they are not to be put in a dog kennel outside.

K&H PET PRODUCTS Heated Thermo-Snuggly Sleeper Indoor Pet Bed for Dogs, Multiple Sizes

2. Give a gentle nudge 

My dog, Victor, loves to jump up onto our bed during the night if he is cold. He loves to snuggle down near my feet and legs as he gets the body warmth from my legs. If it is really cold I don’t mind it as it keeps me warm too with shared body heat.

Other times he will get too greedy by stretching out and restricting my leg movement during sleep.  If it wakes me up I give him a gentle nudge with my foot and he hops back down into his own bed. Usually, he gives a little grumble but he tucks himself up in his bed.

As Victor is 8 years old he has learned to sleep at the bottom of the bed out of the way of my feet if he is really cold.

3. Put a warm jumper on them before bed

When it gets really cold, a warm jumper for your pooch just might keep him in his bed longer overnight. Victor, my dog, loves getting his jumper on when he is cold. He even steps out of it when we take it off in the morning.

Recommended Product:

This is an affiliate link to Amazon and we may get a commission if a purchase is made.

Turtleneck Knitted Dog Sweater

This is the exact same jumper Victor has, it has lasted two winters so far and I just chuck them in the wash when they need it. The turtleneck is lovely and warm for them. I would recommend buying a couple for when one is in the wash.

I do not let Victor wear the jumper outside as he gets it caught in the shrubs in our garden and I worry about his hurting himself. This is strictly for wearing at night time.

4. Train your dog to sleep in a designated area

Want to keep your legs off-limits? If so, show your dog where it should lie down. 

For example, you can have the dog lie on the bedroom floor or in its own bed. When it willingly lies in the place designated for its rest, reward it with verbal praise. 

A word of warning though, if your dog sleeps on the floor next to you, you may be woken by a stinky smell if your dog has passed wind. I often smell Victor’s sticky farts when he is lying next to me in a deep sleep.

5. Reduce their separation anxiety

You can help ease your dog’s worries by leaving a radio or television on when you leave. By leaving something on, it means there will always be the sound of life in your house even if you’re not there.

6. Ban them from the bedroom

This option is not for the faint-hearted. If your dog has been sleeping at your feet or in your bedroom for a while then it is going to take a lot of work to retrain them. I would suggest getting some help from a professional dog behavior specialist if you cannot take your dog sleeping between your legs and waking you up. 

Try the things mentioned above first, if you have a dog with separation anxiety it will be very difficult for both of you.