Last week we took Claude the Frenchie for a walk and he tripped me up by constantly walking between my legs. It wasn’t the first time he had done this; the last time was at the top of some steps!
If your dog also has this annoying habit and you keep getting caught up in the lead you might ask yourself why dogs like to walk between your legs and get under your feet. There are even some dogs who like to do it and pee or hide at the same time!
If you have the same problem with your canine companion, keep reading. I’ve done some research and also spoke to our vet about why dogs like to walk between and under their owner’s legs.
Why does my dog walk between my legs? Dogs walk between their owner’s legs for a variety of reasons including anxiety, attention-seeking, excitement and sometimes just to scratch an itch. If your dog is making a habit of this there are things that you can do to help train your dog to stop walking between your legs and getting under your feet.
Walking between your legs can become a problem. I’ve seen this particularly with less mobile dog owners who may be elderly or not as quick on their feet as other owners.
Below I’ve expanded on why a dog likes to walk between your legs and then at the end, a few tips on how you can train them to stop this problematic behavior.
1. Your dog could be anxious
What could be better than being close to the one you love when you feel scared. Anxiety is one main reason why dogs walk between their owner’s legs and get under their feet. They could be coming to you because they feel safe around you.
When your dog feels anxious for reasons as varied as thunder, other dogs, or cars, they can seek comfort my getting between their owner’s legs for protection. If your dog does this while out on an afternoon stroll, perhaps he is scared of something in the neighborhood.
If you think that your dog could be anxious, it would be a good idea to chat to your vet about what could be done in order to help your dog stay calmer.
My vet told me it’s actually larger dogs who are more prone to this behavior than smaller breeds. He didn’t offer any reason why, it’s just his observation.
2. Your dog could be trying to get your attention
What better way to get your attention than getting under your feet and possibly tripping you up? Admittedly, it’s not the best way to get your attention but it is another reason why dogs walk between your legs.
If your dog is walking between your legs while you’re busy cooking it could be there a way of telling you that they want to play. Maybe you have had a busy week, and you haven’t been able to spend much time with your dog?
By walking between your legs is a sure-fire way to get a reaction out of you.
Make sure to give your dog attention every day; whether you throw a ball for a few minutes, or going for a walk, giving your four-legged friend more attention. By doing so you could stop your dog from weaving between your legs.
Dogs need attention to stay happy. They become part of your family and need constant love and companionship.
3. Your dog could be trying to relieve an itch
If you suspect that your dog is walking between your legs because they could be itchy, check for ticks and fleas. They could be rubbing up against you to relieve an itchy coat. The part your dog is scratching against you is probably going to be one of those hard to reach places.
You could give him a hand and scratch the spot for him. But definitely keep an eye on it; if your dog seems to be constantly scratching, he could have a skin condition.
4. Your dog could be hiding to avoid physical contact
If you notice that your dog walks between your legs while people come to visit, almost like he’s hiding it could be a sign he is trying to avoid them petting him. It could be related to the anxiety and fear I’ve already spoke about if your dog is not comfortable with people touching him.
My vet said that he has often seen rescue dogs hiding under their owner’s legs. You never know what the dog’s history was before the new ownership. There could be a history of abuse and mistreatment. It could be that your dog likes to walk between your legs for protection.
If you notice that your dog is showing signs of fear when people try to pet him, warn your visitors. Tell them that he doesn’t like to be petted. It is better to warn your visitors because the last thing that you want is for your dog to bite someone out of fear or aggression.
You could also take your dog elsewhere to avoid a situation that could turn bad. If your dog is looking to you for protection, it is your job to help your dog feel safe.
5. Your dog could be stopping himself from jumping up
If you have a very excitable and friendly dog, he might find it hard to not jump up on people. If you have trained your pooch that it is bad manners to jump on people, well done! But this could be why he’s hiding between your legs.
However, it could be that because your dog knows that it is wrong to jump up on people, he might now hide between your legs to stop himself from jumping up.
Handy Hint: I’ve developed a training guide which explains how you can train your dog to stop jumping up on people.
It is normal for friendly dogs to jump up on people, but it does become a problem as they get older and bigger. Imagine a massive Great Dane jumping on you…
To stop your dog hiding under your legs when people visit, try instead to trains yours to sit when visitors come until he is calm. This is way better than the dog weaving in and out between your legs.
How to train a dog to stop walking under your legs
So, now that you know what causes your puppy or dog to walk between your legs, you might be wondering how to get your dog to stop.
You can first begin training your dog that walking between your legs is not acceptable.
When it happens, ignore your dog. Then tell them to go lie down on their bed. When they do so, reward them for their good behavior.
You could also train your dog to heel. They could sit next to you instead of walking between your legs. This will also train your dog to keep their focus on you and to not get distracted with other activities (such as walking between your legs.)
Every time your dog does what you want, reward and praise them. This will help them to repeat good behavior.
If you are still struggling with your dog walking between your legs, you could always get a behavioral specialist or a trainer to help you – it will cost money though so try to do it yourself first.
Remember sometimes dogs walk between your legs if they are happy. This is also normal, but if their behavior is getting out of hand, then time to let the training begin.
When I researching the “why does my dog want to walk between my legs” I found some very closely related questions that you should find interesting.
I’ve answered those below.
Why does my dog walk between my legs and pee?
If you have an anxious dog walking between your legs, then it’s their way of seeking protection. When you throw wee into the equation, it can be related to fear.
Another reason why dogs walk between your legs and pee can be there way of appeasing you. They do this to show you that you’re the boss, not them.
Why does my dog sit between my legs?
Dogs sit between your legs and under your feet for the same reasons why they walk under them.
It’s related the points I raised above included fear, excitement, anxiety, itch scratching, safety, and security.
Why do dogs rub against your legs?
Dogs rub themselves against your legs to put their scent on you. It’s kind of their way of tagging you to create a smell that they can associate with the owner.
Some dogs will even pee on their owner’s legs as I explained a couple of questions up.
Having your dog walk between your legs could either be endearing, or really annoying. It’s up to you to decide which behavior is acceptable in your family.
Remember that positive reinforcement and consistent training works best when it comes to your dog, and it’s best trained when they are puppies.