Our dogs are curious creatures, and sometimes, they do the most bizarre things. Like when we're relaxing on a weekend afternoon, and they grab their favorite toy, only to prop it on top of our feet and start chewing away. What is up with this strange dog behavior? It isn't as cozy and sweet as a snuggle, nor does it seem as fun for our dog as playing with their toy. So why do our dogs do it?
We dug into some of the reasoning behind this behavior to explain what's going on in our pups' heads.
Why dogs love a good chew toy
Before we dig into the combined behavior, we have to look at why our dogs love their chew toys so much. Chewing, when it's directed toward toys and not household objects, can be very enjoyable for your dog and a great way to keep your pup occupied. It engages their brain and taps into their hunting instincts. Tearing apart a bone or ripping the stuffing out of a toy mimics the feeling of hunting prey. Even though dogs are domesticated and usually don't need to hunt their food, they have an instinct for hunting and chewing.
Why dogs sit on your feet
We know dogs love chewing their toys, but what is it that makes them plop down on your feet? There's nothing cuter than when you're sitting in your favorite chair or hanging out on the floor when your pup wanders up to sit down on you. Your dog sits on your feet for a few different reasons, but don't worry, it's usually as sweet and positive of a gesture as it seems.
They're showing affection: The first possible explanation is that they're showing affection. Since we can't speak to each other, dogs show us their affection physically. Similar to the way they show their fellow dogs affection. Have you ever seen a puppy pile or watched doggie siblings snuggle together? Being close to you and sometimes being literally on top of you is somewhat the same, at least in your dog's mind. They may be showing you how much they care.
Your feet smell like you: Affection doesn't necessarily explain why dogs so often pick your feet. But your dog loves your scent. In fact, according to a 2014 study, the smell of their humans actually releases triggers your dog's reward response. So just the smell of you makes them happy. And let's be real, your feet definitely smell a LOT like you. Your dog may be attracted to the very pungent you-ness that they smell on your feet.
They may be feeling anxious: When your dog feels anxious, they often turn to their humans for comfort. Being near you and touching you might make them feel safer and calmer.
They're trying to protect you or claim you: We know that dogs are fiercely loyal creatures. They are very invested in their humans, and they also have a strong instinct to protect us. Sitting on our feet may be your dog's way of keeping tabs on you and what's going on around you, so they can jump into action if anything amiss should come up in the living room.
So what makes your dog want to sit on your feet and chew their toy?
When you think about all the reasons that dogs chew their favorite toys and why they sit on your feet, the reason they love doing both becomes pretty clear. They're combining two of their favorite activities together. Double the delight! Chewing a favorite chew brings them joy, and doing so on top of their humans makes it all the better. And, they may even earn themselves some pets as the cherry on top.
Is there ever a reason to worry about this behavior?
Though it's probably just your dog trying to combine their two favorite positive activities, sometimes you may notice them also being a bit aggressive. If they growl or lunge when someone approaches you or approaches the toy, it's worth noting. It could be a sign of resource guarding. This behavior, though common in dogs, can be difficult to manage on your own, so you may need the help of a dog trainer to make sure that chewing and snuggles remain positive activities.
So why does your dog chew their favorite toys right on top of your feet? Though all our dogs are different and their behaviors mean different things, it's most likely that your dog wants to show you some affection while also enjoying themselves. They may even be asking you to join in on the fun.