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Does your dog lean on you? Most dog parents have experienced a pooch leaning on their legs at least once in their lives.

Your dog simply sits or stands next to you and casually leans the bulk of their weight against your calf. Or maybe they flop over on you when you’re sitting on the couch. And, more often than not, it’s the bigger dogs who 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 get a boost in positive chemicals released in the brain when they’re 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 leaning 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’re showing you who’s 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 want 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. One dog’s reason for leaning may be completely different than why another dog leans against their human.

If you’re 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? Do you like when they lean against you? Let us know in the comments below!

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