Chihuahuas are small dogs that love to snuggle between your legs and even on your lap? So what is it about your legs that makes them choose to snooze there?
Let’s look at some of the most common reasons for this unusual sleeping posture.
He Trusts You To Keep Him Safe
The reason your Chihuahua chooses to sleep between your legs has more to do with the fact that he needs a safe place to go to and sleep than why he likes sleeping there. This is often the case if you have not provided him with a safe place such as a crate to sleep in.
Your Chihuahua needs to have a place that he feels secure to let off his guard and rest. Curling up between your legs is probably the “best” comfort zone for him to sleep well as he sees you as his Alpha and depends on you to keep him safe during his sleep.
He knows that he will be safe and sound when he is close to you.
And in order to protect himself, he will likely tuck his head between your legs when he is close to you.
Since he is at a more vulnerable state during sleep, keeping his head close to your legs will make him feel more secure.
He Is Feeling Cold
Let us talk about the health reasons behind this behavior.
Chihuahuas are small dogs that have a short and smooth coat that covers their body. As they do not possess long and thick fur to protect them from the cold weather, it is quite easy for them to feel cold during the winter.
If you don’t turn on the heater in your home or if your Chihuahua isn’t wearing a winter coat, he may shiver with cold as the temperature drops.
In order to maintain the temperature of his body, he will come close to you to warm himself up. That is when you will find him curl up between your legs to create a warm barrier to stay cozy and warm. He is trying to get warmth from your body.
Your Chihuahua will need a warm and cozy place to rest whenever he feels cold, so make sure to give him one.
You can fill a crate with a warm blanket and place a heat lamp outside the crate or get him a heating pad to rest on.
Keep in mind that if your dog starts to sleep with his tongue out, it could be a sign that he is feeling too hot and you will need to turn off the heat lamp.
Positive Experience Leads to a Habit
If your Chihuahua has developed a habit of sleeping close to you, you will find him curling up between your legs whenever he feels tired. This is often the case when you have made this behavior a positive experience for him.
If you have been rewarding your dog (petting and praising him) for this behavior, he is more likely to repeat them again.
Having reinforced his undesirable behavior, you have created a pattern of behavior that’s hard to break.
To make your dog do away with this habit, you will need to apply a behavior modification technique known as positive reinforcement.
Reinforcement works by rewarding your dog whenever he performs the desirable behavior.
Reward your Chihuahua only when he gets up and walks away from your leg. This will help to teach him the new behavior instead. Reinforce it by giving him a reward every time he does that act.
You can shape your dog’s behavior by rewarding him for specific behaviors, but only if you do it right away.
Don’t wait till a minute or so before giving him the reward as your dog will not be able to associate the reward with what he had done previously.
The idea is to create a positive association with a desirable behavior, so that your dog is more likely to repeat it in the future.
Cuddling and Bonding with You
While many theories exist, it turns out the truth is much simpler. The reason your Chihuahua is sleeping between your legs is that he wants to be near you, and gets you to cuddle him.
Chihuahuas are very affectionate dogs, and can become attached to one person. Therefore, it is not surprising to find your Chihuahua sleeping between your legs because he loves you, and he wants to be near you.
He looks forward to cuddling with you and spending time with you. As an added bonus, the warmth of your body sends signals of comfort, safety, and calm to your dog, which boosts his confidence.
Getting close to you will also help to increase his bonding in the pack. This is a highly affectionate gesture. In short, he considers you as part of the pack and would like to connect with you.
It’s just like when you spend time with a friend or family member, you feel connected.
He Feels the Need to Protect You
Chihuahuas are extremely loyal and known to be very protective of their owner. That is probably one of the reasons why your Chihuahua likes to stay close to you, which is to keep you from harm.
You’ll probably experience this behavior from your Chihuahua when you have a new member in your family, such as a new spouse or a new pet.
He feels the need to protect you from harm until he believes that they are not a threat.
He Is Offering You His Comfort
When you feel upset or emotionally down, does your dog often come to you and rest on your legs? If so, then your Chihuahua is trying to offer you his comfort.
He is telling you that he is a loyal companion and will always be there for you no matter what has happened.
This is also the reason why dogs are usually considered to be good friends for humans. They will always look out for their owners and help them in any way possible.
The best thing about having a dog as a companion is that they can give you company when you are alone, and keep you calm when you are under stress.
He Is Feeling Fearful or Anxious
You may find your Chihuahua sleeping between your legs because he is uncomfortable being alone, or simply because he is afraid of loud noises such as fireworks and thunderstorms.
In these situations, your chihuahua will often ‘hide’ between your legs to feel protected, and he will also sleep with his ears up.
Signs to look out for when your Chihuahua is feeling nervous include whining or crying, restlessness and licking their lips and paws.
If this happens, you should find out what is causing his unease and work on addressing them. You might need to give him a gentle pet to comfort him.
In the event that your dog is anxious about loud noises, you need to provide him with a safe place where he can hide, such as his crate.
He Is Experiencing Separation Anxiety
One of the reasons why your Chihuahua is sleeping between your legs is because he is afraid that you will be away from him when he is sleeping. This is often the case when he is experiencing separation anxiety.
Separation anxiety causes dogs to become restless and nervous. As a result, they like to sleep between the legs of their owners in order to feel at ease. They feel safer and more comfortable when they are close to their owners.
Behaviors such as barking, whining, pacing, tucking their tail between the legs, excessive licking of their paws can be signs of this disorder.
Since Chihuahuas are very sensitive and affectionate little dogs who want their owner’s attention all the time, this disorder is more prevalent in them.
They need to be with their owner and to be petted, scratched, and held on constantly. They also love to snuggle in bed with their owners at night.
Your Chihuahua might even chew on his favorite toys or make a mess of the house when he can’t find you. This can be frustrating for you when the behavior is seemingly out of control.
This means that your dog will only feel comfortable when you are nearby, and that he will become anxious and distressed when you leave him alone.
If your dog is feeling this way, he may need a little extra training from you to help him overcome his separation anxiety.
Oftentimes, separation anxiety is caused by a traumatic event in the dog’s life or a stressful event. Sudden change of environment or people can be a trigger for your dog’s anxiety.
Separation anxiety may also be the result of your dog’s experiences, such as being left alone with a person he was not familiar with.
Chihuahuas are generally very sensitive and nervous when it comes to new situations or places. Make sure that you introduce your dog to new places slowly. Don’t let your dog be overstimulated at any time.
Following are some tips on how to treat a Chihuahua who is suffering from separation anxiety.
- Make sure your Chihuahua receives plenty of exercise. Regular exercise sessions help to keep him happy, healthy and ease his anxiety. Ideally, your dog should get at least 30 minutes of exercise per day.
- Make sure that he has plenty of toys and games to play with while you are away. This will help to distract him and give him something else to do instead of thinking about where you are.
- If your Chihuahua loses his temper because of separation anxiety, don’t punish him. It is common for Chihuahuas to exhibit this behavior when they are upset or anxious. Make him a special treat or cuddle him to make him feel better.
To Be Submissive to You
While most people assume that this practice is purely for warmth and comfort, there are some social reasons behind why dogs do it.
This could be a social behavior in which your dog displays submissiveness and a desire to please the pack leader. This shows his acceptance of you as the alpha.
This is especially true of dogs who spend their time in a pack. When they sleep in this position, they can be near the alpha dog, thus protecting themselves from being hit or bitten by the larger dogs in the pack.