Why Your Dog Sleeps Between Your Legs (& How to Get Some Space)

You're warm, comfortable, and safe. Why wouldn't your dog want to sleep between your legs?

Published July 12, 2023
Contented little dog sleeping on its owners lap

Whether you're on the couch or lying in bed, your dog always squeezes into the most inconvenient place: right between your thighs. Why do dogs like sleeping between your legs? There are a few reasons they love this sleeping position, including the fact that it's warm, cozy, and safe. And spoiler alert: you're probably unintentionally encouraging it. Don't worry, though, because we've got some tips to help you curb this behavior and finally give you the legroom you deserve.

Why Does My Dog Sleep Between My Legs?

Dogs have some pretty strange sleeping habits. They sleep on their backs, curled in a little ball, and even between your legs. There are five main reasons your dog might choose this sleeping position.

1. It's Warm

Have you ever put your hands between your thighs on a cold day to warm them up? It's toasty warm down there! Dogs, especially smaller breeds, love heat and seek out warm places to sleep. You're like an enormous hot water bottle, so it makes sense that your dog will want to sleep on or around you, particularly during the cooler months and nighttime.

2. It's Super Comfy

That wedge-shaped nook is the perfect space for your dog to snuggle into. Dogs have a natural instinct to find a den that they burrow into to hunker down for the night. The space between your legs is a similar confined space. It's warm and comfy; what's not to like?

Dog sleeping between person's legs on couch.

3. It Feels Safe

If your dog is feeling anxious or stressed, they might run to lay between your legs as a means of security. Why? Well, you're their person, and you make them feel safe. Maybe there's a thunderstorm brewing that you can't hear yet, or perhaps a housemate is bullying your pup. They'll seek solace by your side or between your legs.

4. They're Guarding You

On the other hand, your dog might feel like you need protection. Sleeping between your legs gives them a vantage point where they can see any approaching danger and jump up to defend you at any moment. Plus, they know your groin and torso contain all your vital organs. It could be that they're just looking out for you.

5. You Encourage It

Even if you're not aware of it (and you're probably not), there's a good chance you're unintentionally encouraging this sleeping position. Do you pet your dog anytime they crawl into that spot? Speaking soothingly to them? Yeah, we thought so. Any type of attention reinforces the behavior, so your dog will keep doing it.

Tips to Stop Your Dog from Sleeping Between Your Legs

There's nothing wrong with letting your dog sleep between your legs unless it bothers you. But if you've had enough, it's understandable to want to stop this behavior. Use these tricks to keep your legs dog-free.

  • Give your dog their own bed. The best way to keep your dog from sleeping between your legs at night is to give them their own bed. This can be a crate, cozy pet bed, or any other place that's just theirs and just for sleeping.
  • Keep them warm. If they're seeking warmth, you can do other things to keep them toasty. Put plenty of blankets in their bed so they can burrow there. They even make heated dog beds.
  • Calm their nerves. Address any sources of stress that could be causing your dog to seek safety between your legs.
  • Address separation anxiety. Is your dog attached to you like Velcro? Address separation anxiety to help your dog feel confident alone so they're not constantly trying to crawl into your skin.
Quick Tip

Setting boundaries starts in puppyhood, so plan to build expectations for your dog's sleeping habits into their early routine. If you want to have your personal space while you sleep, don't let them start young.

No, It's Not Dangerous for Your Dog to Sleep Between Your Legs

It's very unlikely that a dog would overheat or suffocate while sleeping between your legs under the covers. The worst that could happen is that you'll get frustrated by not being able to move your legs, or you might get too hot from their body heat. Your dog will intuitively move when they need to, but that might not be for a while. If it bothers you, take action to encourage your dog to sleep in another location or just enjoy having your little buddy close to you.

Why Your Dog Sleeps Between Your Legs (& How to Get Some Space)