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Four reasons your dog leans on your legs

 by bora on 12 Sep 2019 |
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From seeking affection to feeling anxious, dogs lean against their owners’ legs for many reasons. To figure out what your pet is trying to say with this behavior, context is key.

Dogs are social creatures and a great deal of their communicating is done with body language—but not all canine communication is easy for humans to understand. Leaning against your leg can carry several meanings, depending on the context in which Fido decides to rest against you. Here are a few reasons your dog might be leaning on your leg:

1. He feels anxious or scared: Pets prone to anxiety in certain situations often lean against their owners for support, both physical and emotional. If your dog is feeling uncomfortable, leaning against your leg is a sign he feels safe around his human and is seeking you for security.

2. He wants something: Dogs learn fast that invading our physical space is a great way to get attention. Don’t be surprised if your pet leans against your leg when he’s craving your affection, a trip to the dog park, or a tasty treat—especially if you’ve rewarded the behavior with attention in the past.

3. He wants to assert dominance: While not all canine behaviorists agree on this point, some theorize that dominant dogs lean on their owners to assert authority. Watch for other assertive behaviors from your pet, as well as his interaction with other dogs, to determine if this may be the case with your companion. While leaning against his human’s leg can be a sign of affection, testing his weight against other dogs may mean your pet is sizing himself up against potential rivals. If his leg leaning is not accompanied by any of these behaviors, however, chances are your pet isn’t trying to take your position as pack leader.

4. He wants to be close to you: In all the above examples, your pet is leaning on you because he wants to be close to you for a reason. However, in some cases, Fido really is leaning against your leg just to be closer to you. Dogs enjoy physical contact with their beloved humans and, especially in larger breeds, leaning is one way to get closer to the people they love. Sometimes, we all need a little reassuring affection.

As a general rule, leaning is a normal behavior in dogs. However, if Fido’s need for human contact is overwhelming, try ignoring him every time he leans against your leg. By rewarding him with attention only after he moves his body from your leg, you can reinforce mutually beneficial behavior. If, however, you think your dog is craving contact due to separation anxiety, talk to your veterinarian about seeing an animal behaviorist for help.


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