As with most things we do, this is an evolutionary trait we inherited from our ancestors.
We used to live in packs and there is a lot to be said for sticking together. We like to stay close to one another as this is the best way to ensure everyone’s safety.
Sitting by your feet is our way of showing our submission to you. You are literally and metaphorically above us in a position of leadership. This can also be a sign that we are protecting you, ready to spring into action at the first sign of danger.
Alternatively, if we seem anxious, this is our way of looking for reassurance from you.
Another reason that we do this is to mark our territory. You are our human, and no other dogs can have you. We like to make this very clear because we don’t want to lose you.
What does it mean when a dog sits with his back to you?
I don’t really understand why humans think it’s rude to turn your back on someone. To us dogs, it’s the ultimate sign of respect and trust.
In the wild, turning our backs on someone so that we can’t see them leaves us in a position of vulnerability.
Not only can we not see you, but our teeth are as far away from you as they can get. This means that we cannot attack quickly if we are placed in harm’s way.
As you can imagine, we don’t take decisions like this lightly. It’s a big thing for us to leave ourselves exposed in this way, and it is our way of telling you that we feel safe in your presence.
You’ve probably also noticed that dogs tend to sniff each other’s butts when we meet for the first time. Honestly, we think it’s kind of weird that you don’t.
You can learn so much about someone from their butt and all the information that is contained within the pheromones there.
Turning our backs to you is an open invitation to sniff our butts and get the necessary information. So far, no humans have taken me up on this, but I remain hopeful.
Sometimes, we will sit with our backs to you because we want to be scratched. I know, I know, it’s selfish, but sometimes we just can’t reach properly. Help us out, please.
What does it mean when your dog lays on you?
As I mentioned earlier, a lot of the reason we like being so close to our humans is because of our pack mentality.
Being close to each other is a sign of love, affection, and protection. We lie on you to show you that we are connected to you and feel a strong bond.
It makes us feel safe, comforted, and loved. Just like humans, we appreciate a good snuggle, particularly when it’s cold outside.
I know it’s not always comfortable, but please don’t just push us off or berate us. This makes us really sad and can even make us think that we are not loved!
Instead, please let us snuggle up to you for a couple of minutes before you move. This helps us understand that you’re not rejecting us, but that you just don’t want to be in that position.
Sometimes, if we feel like we are in charge of the house, lying on top of humans can be seen as us exerting dominance over you.
By physically overpowering you like this, we are showing our elevated power and presence. Dogs have quite large egos, and thinking like this is not always in our best interests.
Don’t tell the others I told you, but if your dog seems to be calling the shots then you will need to stop them from lying on you. If their behavior is really bad, you might even need to take them to a professional trainer for some lessons.
This kind of thing can seem harmless at first, but it can cause very dangerous situations if allowed to continue.
Do dogs know when humans are sleeping?
Yes, we do. We have an amazing sense of smell and can pick up on chemical scents that are imperceptible to humans.
When you are sleeping there are chemical changes that occur in your body, and we can smell these happening.
As well as this, your breathing pattern changes while you are asleep. It becomes slow and regular during non-REM sleep, and shallower during the REM period. This means that we will learn over time what each breathing pattern means.
The same principle applies to your heart rate. We learn pretty quickly how to read these cues.
After enough time watching you, we will come to understand that every little movement precedes an activity. When we see you roll over in bed, or open your eyes, all systems are go and we can’t wait to come and shower you with love.
Why do dogs sleep against you?
When we sleep next to you, we are trying to show you that we love and care for you. We consider you a close member of our pack (family in human terms) and want to protect you at your most vulnerable.
Our sleeping position varies according to how we feel. If we are curled up then we may be cold, scared, or anxious. If we are lying on our side and showing you our belly, this is the ultimate show of trust.
Our belly is the most vulnerable part of us, and showing it to you while we are sleeping is a sign we believe you will not pose any threat to us.
If we are lying on our backs, we are showing you a signal of submission. It implies that we feel completely safe in your company and are calm.
If we are spread out with our belly and all 4 limbs flat on the floor, this is unlikely to be a deep sleep. We can quickly spring into action from this position.