Penhurst village, sheep dog with two female sheep famers in boots.

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Does your dog lean on you?

Most dog owners have experienced a dog leaning on their legs at least once in their lives. Your dog simply sits or stands next to you and casually leans a bulk of her weight against your calf. And, more often than not, it is the bigger dogs that tend to lean.

But why do they do it? Well, theories about leaning dogs abound, but here are a few likely reasons your dog may be leaning on you.

Some Dogs Lean For Security

Pet chihuahua's leash wrapped around fashionable owner's leg.

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If your dog is anxiety-prone or tense in certain situations, they may lean on you for both physical and emotional support.

Dogs have been proven to experience a bump in positive chemicals released in the brain when they are in the presence of a treasured human. If your dog associates you with happiness, they most likely associate you with safety, as well

On the one hand, this could mean your dog is experiencing anxiety, and you might have to comfort or reassure them. On the other hand, it also means your dog trusts you to keep them safe and protect them.

If your dog seems anxious and leans on you, especially on walks or out in public, try to move to an area where there’s less activity. People, other dogs, traffic, and other distractions could be causing your dog to feel nervous, and it’s best to avoid their stressors.

Some Dogs Lean For Dominance–Maybe

Happy large dog lying on the laps.

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Some argue that the reason your dog leans on you or sits on your feet is to invade your territory. They are showing you who is boss by being up in your space and establishing dominance.

More and more dog professionals, however, are dispelling this myth. Unless your dog is very dominant in every aspect of their personality, chances are good that they’re not leaning on you to prove their alpha status.

Some Dogs Lean Because They Love You, Of Course

African woman hugging dog

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As you may have guessed, many dog experts believe that your dog leans on you because they love you. Dogs love cuddles and affection, and chances are they just wants a little TLC from you. 

Dogs, by nature, are social pack animals. Naturally, they crave physical closeness to their pack members, and you are one of them!

Smaller dogs can achieve this closeness by being picked up or lazing about on their humans’ laps, but such luxuries cannot always be afforded to larger dogs. In order to have that social closeness, big dogs tend to lean on the legs of their humans.

And if you reward this behavior with lots of pets and snuggles–as we dog lovers tend to do–your pooch will likely learn that leaning gets them affection. There’s nothing wrong with that, though. After all, isn’t having a cuddle buddy one of the many reasons you have a dog in your life?

At the end of the day, you know your dog best. What one dog’s leaning means may be a completely different indicator than why another dog leans against their human.

If you are comfortable with your dog leaning on you, go ahead and let them do it. If you have a larger or heavier dog, however, make sure you are ready at any and all times for the mighty lean!

Is your dog a leaner? If so, is it something that you enjoy? Let us know in the comments below!


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