Why does the dog lie between your legs? Behaviour can indicate more than love

László Enikő

2023. August 4 - Photos: Getty Images Hungary

Wondering why your dog lies between your legs? Is this how you want to protect yourself, or is it how you feel safe? Whatever the reason, it is common for a dog to sleep between its owner's legs.


It is usually a sign of trust and love, but it can also indicate that something is wrong. Although it may seem like innocent behaviour, it is important to understand the reason. The following are some of the possible reasons behind the behaviour.

1. Warm and comfortable

From a dog’s point of view, the behaviour is perfectly logical, as the area between your legs is warm and comfortable. Your pet likes to be close to you, because they are pack animals, and wolves sleep close to each other, so they protect and keep each other warm. This is why this behaviour is more common in dogs in winter.

2. How he shows his love for you

Dogs are man’s best friend, and sleeping and lying between the owner’s legs is one of the best ways to show how much affection they have for you. It can also be a simple way of saying thank you for giving him love, food or care. If the dog is not causing any problems or discomfort, it doesn’t hurt to let him enjoy the comfort of relaxing between your legs.

3. He wants to protect you

A dog may lie between its owner’s legs to protect it. It should be close to a family member to ensure their safety. If your pet seems overprotective for some reason, it could be because there are other animals or people nearby. You want to make sure that no one is hurting your loved one. However, overprotectiveness is a problem behaviour and you should seek professional help as soon as possible.

4. Afraid of something

Unfamiliar surroundings, thunder or loud and sudden noises can frighten your dog. Your pet may lie between your legs, trusting you to protect him from everything.

Other signs of fear may include:

  • whining
  • hiding
  • barking
  • panting
  • growling
  • shaking
  • escape

It is also worth watching his body language, as signs of fear can include ears folded back, head bowed or tail tucked between the legs.

5. Looking for emotional support

Like humans, dogs need emotional support when they feel insecure, injured, tired, unwell or anxious. They prefer to sleep between your legs for emotional support. According to psychologist Professor Coren, who wrote the book Intelligence of Dogs, dogs can also be depressed or sad. When they are, they may look to their beloved owners for emotional support.

Like humans, dogs need emotional support when they feel insecure, injured, tired, unwell or anxious. They prefer to sleep between your legs for emotional support. According to Professor Coren, a psychologist who
Intelligence in Dogs
dogs can be depressed or sad. And they can expect a little emotional support from their beloved owner.

6. Separation anxiety

These days, a relatively large number of dogs suffer from separation anxiety. These dogs don’t like to be separated from their owners for a minute, and when they are, they panic. They shake, bark, destroy, whine, and there are many symptoms of the problem. These dogs like to sleep as close as possible to their owners, for example between their legs, so they feel the warmth and security of their owners. They also sense immediately when the owner moves, so they can follow immediately.

7. He trusts you

Your loved one may be lying between your legs because they trust you. A study by the Department of Ethology at ELTE University of Applied Sciences reveals that even puppies trust people as if they were their mother.

8. You accidentally taught him that

Well, your pet may have laid down once and you rewarded the behaviour with plenty of petting and praise. Why would he lie elsewhere when he gets such good things in return? And it’s comfortable, too!

9. Jealousy

Sometimes dogs are like children competing for their parents’ attention. If your pet started acting like this when a new pet or baby came into your home, it’s probably trying to compete for your affection. But it’s important to make sure that jealousy doesn’t turn into aggression. If you live with two dogs and one of them clearly doesn’t like the other one resting between your legs, don’t let either of them behave!

attachment dog behaviour dog sleeping fear jealousy love separation anxiety trust why why it lies between your legs

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