7 Reasons Why Your Dog Goes Between Your Legs (+Solutions)

So you’re out for a walk with your dog, and suddenly, your dog’s head is between your legs. After several highly annoying attempts to get your dog’s head off of your feet and back onto the ground, you may wonder if there is something wrong with your dog. Is it a sign of stress? Or, perhaps, do they just want to be near you?

Here’s The Short Answer To Why Your Dog Goes Between Your Legs:

The reasons why your dog goes between your legs are they feel anxious, they want attention, it’s a submissive behavior, it’s an alternate behavior, or it could be an itch.

why does my dog go between my legs

Common Reasons Why Your Dog Goes Between Your Legs

Here are those reasons in a bit more detail.

1. Anxiety

After reading many different sources on why dogs go-between peoples’ legs, it has been commonly agreed upon that this is a common behavior seen in dogs who suffer from anxiety. When this behavior is accompanied by additional symptoms of anxiety, such as excessive barking or howling, then it’s a good bet that you have an anxious dog on your hands.

Dog’s anxiety itself can take on a number of different forms, but a common form is separation anxiety. This means that your dog is stressed about being left alone for a prolonged period of time.

When your dog is left alone at home, they may feel as though they are away from you, and this can cause a great deal of stress, and when you finally come home, they may express their relief by going to the place where they feel most secure: between your legs.

Other than separation anxiety, your dog can also suffer from other types of anxiety. For example, they can be anxious about other people or animals in the house, changes to your routine or environment that they are not used to, or any other factor that may cause them stress.

All of these factors can lead to your dog seeking comfort and protection by going between your legs.

2. Being Playful

Sometimes there’s nothing wrong with your dog, and they are simply trying to engage you in play or want something from you. As long as there’s no aggression involved, then it’s safe to say they’re just engaging in playful behavior.

Your biggest job in this situation is to figure out what it is that they want. It could be that they would like a toy, or maybe they want to go outside. As the interaction between you and your dog advances, you will be able to better guess what it is that they are trying to convey.

3. Guarding

Dogs who have been made to feel that it is their duty to guard you or your possessions may well go between your legs when they see a stranger approaching.

Your dog will likely try and “block” your legs so you can’t leave in case the strange person means harm, but this behavior is not necessarily aggressive, so long as it is being done out of love for you.

This behavior is common in dogs with a high level of protective instinct, such as Rottweilers, Dobermans, German Shepherds, and other breeds often used as guard dogs.

But even if your dog is not a guard dog, it’s natural for dogs to guard their owners against anything that they see as a threat. There are two motives that drive this behavior.

First is the resource guarding motive. This is when dogs intend to guard against another dog or animal who may prey on their food, favorite toy, resting spot, etc. Although dogs will often guard things, on occasion, they will also guard people, especially if they view their owners as the only ones who can give them resources such as food and play.

The second motive is the pack guarding motive. This occurs when dogs guard against other animals and people to keep them out of the ‘pack,’ i.e., you and your family.

4. Encouraged Behavior

If you tend to pet your dog and pat him on the head when they go between your legs, then you may actually be encouraging this behavior to continue.

Dogs learn by association. If they find that this action results in a positive outcome for them, such as getting attention or treats, they are likely to do it again. If it has a negative outcome, such as you ignoring them, then they are likely to refrain from doing it in the future.

This positive and negative reinforcement is the essence of all dog training methods out there, and it can be used to your advantage when you want to discourage a certain behavior from continuing.

5. Submissiveness

Some people may not agree with this, but I believe that it could be one of the reasons why dogs go between their owner’s legs.

In the wild, we can see those dominant animals often sit or stand on higher ground while they watch over their territory. They may stand on top of small hills, have higher resting spots, have the most comfortable spot in the den, etc. While less dominant animals will have their resting spots lower to the ground so as not to be seen as a threat.

Some animals even mount other animals in the pack in a non -sexual way to show their dominance. Dogs, as pack animals, can behave in a similar manner.

Dogs who go between your legs may do so to communicate their submission to you. All in all, it’s not necessarily bad when they do it, but you should be wary if your dog shows other worrying behaviors such as submissive urination.

This could be a sign of some serious underlying behavioral issues like stress, anxiety, or fear that need to be addressed right away.

6. Alternate Behavior

If you have reprimanded your dog for certain behaviors before, they will likely alternate their behavior to avoid getting into trouble.  

For example, if your dog used to jump on you whenever you came home, and you decided to start teaching them that it’s bad to jump on people, then they will learn that jumping is not appropriate behavior and replace it with going between your legs.

This is a good thing because it means that the undesirable behavior has been replaced by something more appropriate and less dangerous for you and your dog.

7. Itchy Skin

Last but not least, the reason why dogs go between your legs could be that they have an itch that needs to be scratched, especially if their action is followed by them rubbing their bodies against your legs.

There are a few things that can cause this itch. Here are some of the most common ones:

Allergies

Allergies can cause your dog to itch. There are different types of dog allergies, but the most common ones are food allergies, environmental allergies, and contact allergies (1).

Fleas and Mites

Fleas and mites are little parasitic insects that can cause your dog to itch like crazy. To find out whether your dog has fleas, you can try pressing a wet paper towel on their fur. If the paper towel goes red, that could mean that your dog has fleas.

Skin Disease

There are also skin diseases other than allergies that could make your dog scratch, including yeast infection, folliculitis, mange, and ringworm.

When Should You Be Worried?

As I said before, there are some other causes for this behavior, so you should be wary if your dog shows any worrying behaviors besides going between your legs. If they start to exhibit other concerning behaviors such as submissive urination or aggression, then these should be addressed right away by a qualified veterinarian or animal behaviorist.

If you just don’t like your dog going between your legs, then just ignore them when they do it, or you can replace the behavior with a different action. For example, you can ask your dog to sit or lie down in place of going between your legs whenever they do it.

But if you don’t want to spend weeks or months training your dog to not go between your legs, you can use a distraction method instead. For example, whenever your dog goes between your legs, you can give them a treat or a toy to redirect their attention away from your legs.

But if you suspect that the cause of this behavior is a medical issue, then you should take them to a veterinarian as soon as possible. You can use home remedies to provide fast temporary relief, but if their condition doesn’t improve, you should seek professional help to diagnose them and treat them accordingly.

Related Questions

1. Why Do Dogs Lick Your Legs After a Shower?

The most likely reason why dogs lick your legs after a shower is that they like the taste and scent of your soap or body wash.