As with nearly everything puppies do, plopping down to sit atop your foot (when he could have picked any other spot on the entire floor!) is an adorable trait, but what could it possibly mean? Decoding a puppy’s behavior sometimes isn't an easy task. Learn to recognize cues that'll clue you into what’s going on in that cute little head.
It’s possible that your pooch is simply being affectionate. You were gone all day long and Puppy just wants to be close to you -- after all, he’s your biggest fan! Plus, by parking himself on your feet, he’s making it harder for you to go anywhere. This way, he can truly be the center of your attention.
In some cases, sitting on your feet can be a sign of dominance. Puppy may be instinctively trying to challenge you to be the pack leader! If he presses up against your legs, mounts your calves or looks up and barks at you for no particular reason while he’s snuggled up on your feet, be on alert. You’ll need to walk away, put him outside or give him something to play with -- anything to avert his attention elsewhere. If you let the behavior continue, you can run into bigger problems down the line -- like racing out the front door as soon as you open it, spraying in the house or pulling you forcefully on a walk.
If your puppy is feeling nervous or if something scares him, he’ll want to feel safe and protected. Naturally, being right up close to you calms him down, making him feel secure. He’ll stick his tail between his legs or drag it on the ground, flatten his ears back towards his skull and hang his head low as he curls up on your feet. Scratch him under the chin and reassure him everything is fine. Be careful, though -- sometimes a scared dog may accidentally nip you or empty some of his bladder right on you.
When Puppy cozies up to your legs, he could be guarding you and trying to keep you to himself. He might snap at your other dog when he walks by or try to bite your spouse when he approaches you. If he’s nipping at others, growling or showing his teeth while he’s on your toes, you’ll need to let him know that behavior isn’t acceptable. Don’t allow him to curl up on your feet anymore and if he starts the unruly behavior when another animal or human walks in the room, don’t give him any attention until he stops. Even swatting at him or yelling at him is still attention -- even though it’s negative -- so just ignore him. In some cases, you may need to seek the advice of a professional trainer.
By Melodie Anne Coffman
About the Author
Melodie Anne Coffman specializes in overall wellness, with particular interests in women's health and personal defense. She holds a master's degree in food science and human nutrition and is a certified instructor through the NRA. Coffman is pursuing her personal trainer certification in 2015.