Why Does My Dog Sleep Between My Legs?


dog lying between the owner's legs

Sleeping between the owner’s legs is one of the most popular habits among pups and older dogs. If you share a bed with a canine then this may be one of its favorite spots.

While many owners do not mind where the dog sleeps as long as they share the bed with their beloved pooch, others who may not be so cool with the idea can begin to question the underlying reasons why their pets choose that spot even on large beds with enormous amounts of space.

Why does my dog sleep between my legs? Dogs sleep between the legs as a way to show affection to the owner or to gain security against fear, anxiety, and cold weather. Puppies trained to sleep in that position also grow up lying down between the owner’s legs by default.

Reasons Why Dogs Sleep Between The Owner’s Legs

There may be several underlying reasons why a dog sleeps between your legs. Shall we take a closer look at a couple of them?

1. Competing For Your Attention

Is there a new pet addition to the home? If yes, that could be the reason why an old dog is sleeping between your legs. If the habit has sprung up all of a sudden after a new pet addition, it could be the old dog’s way of protecting its territory.

Like humans, dogs can be particularly jealous when they notice that they’re not the center of attention. After bringing in a new pet, the focus on making her comfortable can make the old dog feel neglected in many ways.

Thus, the old pup may decide to lie down between your legs at bedtime to prove who’s the boss and to ensure she can gain some attention from you as well.

2. Fear 

A dog may move to lie down between the owner’s feet when it is in fear. This may be due to internal or external factors. For instance, if you’ve always slept with the lights on, deciding to observe lights out suddenly can put fear into the dog.

He may respond to this by moving between your legs as a means of protection from the uncertainties in the dark. Sometimes, a dog may fall asleep at a different spot in your bed but move into the space between your legs after waking up from a nightmare.

The trembling sounds of thunder and lightning, for instance, can put so much fear into dogs to the point where they may move into the owner’s laps for security and reassurance.

3. Cold 

dog freezing in snow

Cold weather can be brutal to dogs just as much as humans. We all love to cuddle up to somebody or something warm to enhance our body temperatures for comfort during extremely low temperatures and dogs love to do the same.

When temperatures tumble in winter or other chilly periods of the year, the space between your legs can be one of the warmest spots on a bed for dogs.

This position enables contact with not only the owner’s body but other warm bedding he or she may be sleeping with. This can be lifesaving for dogs by preventing hypothermia, which is one of the most serious medical conditions that can affect their lives.

4. Part of Their Training

Whether you intend to adopt a homeless puppy or sourcing one from anywhere else, keep in mind that the pup may have been trained to exhibit certain habits. If the new pup you’ve just brought home was trained to sleep between the legs of its owner then it is only a matter of time before it consolidates that spot in your bed.

If you love the idea of a puppy sleeping between the legs then there should not be any problems. However, if you absolutely detest sharing a bed with a pooch or prefer another spot in the bed apart from the space between your legs then you have a decision to make.

You may have to ask about the puppy’s sleeping habits to verify that they meet your preferences before going ahead with the adoption process.

5. Trust

Dogs are truly man’s best friend and every dog owner can testify to the special bond that can develop between humans and pooches. Sleeping between your legs can be a sign of the strong bond the canine has built with you.

Remember, dogs avoid making contact with people they regard as shady. The only way your pup can be comfortable sleeping between your legs is when it has absolute trust for you.

Remember, trust is a 2-way street when it comes to dogs: they can only build genuine trust for an owner who shows reciprocal trust for them.

6. Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety is a common condition that affects pooches who have been trained to always be in the company of an owner. For dogs suffering from that condition, staying as close as possible to the owner at all times can come naturally.

Thus, such dogs may decide that sleeping between your legs offers maximum proximity while ensuring as much physical contact as possible.

If you share a bed with a partner, the dog may choose to lie between the legs of whoever it feels more comfortable with.

However, in the absence of the preferred partner, the dog may still move between the legs of the other partner.

7. Natural Burrowing

Burrowing is one of the earliest traits of dogs because the first generation canines were not domesticated. They survived by burrowing in the woods to find food and other essentials in the wild.

This instinctive trait has been passed down from generation to generation so it is no surprise that some dogs love to burrow into bedsheets, blankets, and other types of bedding. Burrowing can provide a sense of comfort and safety to such dogs and what better place to do that than lying down between the owner’s legs?

Burrowing under the blankets also enables dogs to snuggle up to their favorite owners whether it is trembling outside or room temperature is chilly.

Has Your Dog Been Sleeping Between Your Legs From Day One?

One of the keys to figuring out why your dog sleeps between your legs is the timing of when the habit started. Has your pup been lying down between your legs right from day one or the habit sprung up after a major change such as moving homes?

As stated above, a common reason could also be the introduction of a new pet in the home or perhaps you inadvertently provided a reward after the pooch slept between your legs one time.

If the little guy started sleeping between your legs right from day one then that may be a sign that it finds that spot more comfortable even if there is ample space in other areas of the bed. In that case, if you’re comfortable then it may not be a bad idea to allow the dog to remain there at night.

However, if a pooch moved into the space between your legs suddenly after switching apartments or homes, that could be a sign that the little guy is not exactly comfortable in the new surroundings. You may have to find ways of getting him acquainted with the new place.

Also, if a dog swiftly moved to the spot between your legs in bed after a new dog or cat addition to the family, that could be a sign that it is being deprived of attention. Going out of your way to show some attention to him can erode any signs of jealousy.

Negatives Of Your Dog Sleeping Between The Legs

Many pet owners enjoy seeing their beloved dogs sleeping soundly in between their legs. However, others may not be so comfortable with the development because it can be unbearable in certain scenarios.

Here are a few negatives of having a dog lying down between the legs at bedtime

1. Excessive Heat During Summer 

The body heat of dogs can rise during the summer or in other high-temperature periods of the year. The last thing you need in a heatwave is a dog stuck between the legs as that can restrict the circulation of the minimal amounts of air in your bedroom.

The pooch’s body temperature can also heat your bed and make sleep hard to come by.

While the cool breeze from a blasting air conditioner or fan can come in handy, getting access to these gadgets may not always be guaranteed. Thus, having a dog sleeping between your legs during a heatwave can be terrible in many ways.

2. Accidental Kicks In The Middle Of The Night

Have you been diagnosed with restless legs syndrome or another condition that makes lying down still throughout the night impossible? If yes, the last thing you may want is a dog lying between your legs.

Having a pooch in such proximity can lead to accidental kicks in the middle of the night. These kicks can startle and wake up even the soundest sleeping dogs leading to howling and other sounds of pain.

Canines may struggle to sleep after waking up at night which can also keep you from hitting the hay too.

2. Restricted Movements 

If you’re a combination sleeper that switches between different positions throughout the night, a dog sleeping between the legs can be detrimental to a good night of rest in many ways. Firstly, it can restrict the ability to move from the back to the sides or stomach effortlessly without making physical contact with your pooch.

Going to bed with the knowledge that the dog is stuck between the legs can also mean the subconscious part of the brain tries to keep you in a fixed position all night long. This can lead to an inferior quality of sleep and low energy levels in the morning.

How to Get Your Dog To Stop Sleeping Between Your Legs

If you hate the idea of a dog snoozing between your legs, you’ll have to take some drastic actions. Here are a few ways to get a dog to stop sleeping between your legs.

1. Kick It Out Of Your Bedroom

dog behind a wooden fence

This may seem dramatic but kicking your adorable dog out of your bedroom can solve a lot of problems. With your pooch banished to another area of the home, it can no longer crawl into your bed and lie between your legs.

While this solution may sound good, it may not be easy to do if you love the idea of sharing a bedroom with your furry friend.

Thus, you may have to resort to any of the alternative solutions stated below:

2. Train It To Get Comfortable Sleeping Alone 

As stated above, separation anxiety may be the reason why your dog curls up in the space between your legs at night. Getting the necessary treatment for the pooch can remedy the situation and get him sleeping alone comfortably.

Remember, separation anxiety may have been caused by the loss of an important person in the dog’s life in the past. The fear of losing you as well can trigger a wave of emotions that may inhibit its ability to relax when you’re not around.

The little guy may have to undergo a counter-conditioning program to treat mild to severe forms of separation anxiety. Training it to become comfortable sleeping alone can, therefore, come in handy.

3. Train It To Sleep In Another Part of the Bed

There can be several spots on your bed for accommodating your dog at night. If the idea of the canine sleeping anywhere else apart from your bed sounds ludicrous, you can train it to lie down on a dog bed placed at the foot of the bed or on the side.

4. Move to The Sofa

While some furry friends may follow you to the sofa to continue lying down on your lap, others may remain on the bed. Sometimes, moving to the sofa can send a signal to the pup to back off particularly if it happens every time it curls up between your legs in bed.

Dogs can be smart animals that may observe your reactions to determine how to act in certain situations. The canine may hesitate to move into the sofa to lie down on your laps if you move away every time it comes on to you in bed.

5. Lock Him In A Crate

Do you hate the feeling of a dog lying down between your legs in bed? Why not just lock it in a crate and place it in the bedroom? Dogs that have grown used to sharing your bed may resist this move but if you’re determined to get the right results then it is not impossible.

A good tip may be to retrain the dog to sleep in its crate or on a dog bed instead of your bed or laps.

Conclusion 

You’re now aware that a dog may sleep between your legs as a means of snuggling up to provide comfort or gain a sense of security when in fear. After the introduction of a new pet at home, an old dog may also stake its claim to the owner by quickly moving to occupy the spot between the legs at bedtime.

If you love the idea of your dog lying on your lap at night then there should be no cause for alarm. However, if the opposite is true, you can always retrain the dog to get comfortable in another sleeping spot.

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