Why Does My Dog… Walk Between My Legs?

Some dogs try to squeeze between someone's legs when they're excited or anxious.
iStockphoto
Some dogs try to squeeze between someone's legs when they're excited or anxious.

You may have met a dog with this endearing tendency: He tries to walk between your legs — even if you’re not ready or he can’t quite fit. 

So, what is it he's trying to do?

We asked Dr. Wailini Sung, a veterinary behaviorist, for the answer to the question.

Seeking Attention, Avoiding Contact and More

“Some dogs do it when they are excited or anxious: The physical contact may be comforting to them,” Dr. Sung says. “It can also be a form of attention-seeking behavior. Who would not pay attention to a dog walking between their legs?”

But there are other reasons a dog might try to weave while you walk.

Dr. Sung explains that some dogs might be slightly fearful of hands reaching down to pet them, or they may have been reprimanded for jumping up on people they meet. “Walking between someone's legs may be their way of avoiding the pet [or] an alternate behavior to jumping on someone,” she says. 

If you are concerned that your dog might be showing anxiety when he exhibits this behavior, you should seek the advice of your veterinarian. 

While some dogs do this because they’re fearful and trying to avoid contact, Dr. Sung says others may be itchy and are looking to relieve the itch. It could also be because they’re trying to rub something off their coat, she adds. 

Although Dr. Sung hasn’t seen the habit of walking between someone’s legs in particular breeds, she says she’s noticed it most in medium and large-sized dogs

The behavior can be sweet and funny as long it’s not a sign of anxiety — and as long as your dog isn’t about to knock over a child or elderly person in the process. And if you are dealing with a situation where that's a potential issue, consider teaching your dog an alternate behavior, like sitting, going to a mat or playing  red light/green light.

More on Vetstreet:


Google+

Join the Conversation

Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!