If you’re like me and you let your Shih Tzu sleep with you, then you know that they love to sleep on your feet or legs, but why does my Shih Tzu sleep on my feet? Well, one reason is that they were bred to be companions for Chinese Emperors and also to sit on their feet to keep them warm or in the sleeves of their gowns, but there are other reasons for this behavior as well.
Top Reasons Why Your Shih Tzu is Sleeping on Your Feet
There are a number of reasons why your Shih Tzu might be sleeping on your feet. From being anxious to showing love to being possessive and their breeding, Shih Tzus want to be close to you and that’s especially true when they are sleeping.
They Are Anxious
Some Shih Tzus feel a little insecure or anxious about their surroundings or life in general. My little Sammy is that way. (You can learn more about Sammy here.)
She was a rescue dog and was badly mistreated before she came to me. She has always been a little insecure, but as she has gotten older, it seems to get worse.
I let her sleep with me on the bed and she used to sleep next to me, but now she only wants to sleep on my feet or legs.
No matter how many times I move her, she is right back to her favorite spot.
From her overall behavior, I can tell she simply feels safer if she is close to me and being more vulnerable when she is asleep she wants to make sure she is as close as possible.
This could be true for your Shih Tzu as well.
If your Shih is anxious or acting nervous or insecure, see if there is something in their environment that is causing these feelings and then do what you can to remove it.
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Your Shih Tzu Wants to Bond With You
Sometimes it is as simple as your Shih Tzu wanting to get closer to you to bond. Their one and only job in life is to be with you, so it makes sense that they want to have as deep of a bond with you as possible.
By sleeping on your feet, they are showing their loyalty and love.
Take it for the compliment it is. You are their world and they are showing you that through their actions.
What if your Shih Tzu doesn’t want to sit or sleep on your feet? Does that mean they don’t like you or haven’t bonded with you?
According to PetMD, “…your dog may show you affection in other ways, such as coming to greet you when you come home or bringing you his favorite toy, or following you from room to room. Think of it as your dog having certain love languages”
It’s In Their Breeding
Shih Tzus were bred to be companions to Chinese emperors. They were actually bred to sleep on the emperor’s feet to keep their owner warm.
They also were bred to sit in the sleeves of the emperor’s gowns to keep the emperors warm. (Picture a long sleeve that gets much wider at the wrist, kind of like a cone with the large opening at the bottom.)
Because they were bred to sleep on their owner’s feet, it kind of comes naturally to them.
Sometimes They Want to Protect You
While a Shih Tzu might be looking for protection from you, sometimes they want to protect you instead.
Your Shih Tzu sees you as the head of the pack, the alpha in the house. When you are asleep, they understand that you are not at your best in terms of being alert and protecting the pack.
So, your Shih Tzu might feel that they need to keep watch over you while you are sleeping so nothing happens to you.
Sleeping on your feet allows them to be close and maintain watch over you and your surroundings.
They Feel Possessive
Your Shih Tzu might be sleeping on your feet because they feel possessive towards you. They want to show you and anyone else who might be around that you belong to them.
This isn’t the greatest reason for your Shih Tzu to sleep on your feet.
If this is the case, they don’t see you as the head of the pack. They see you more like a possession that they own.
It’s like when you see one of those really cute pictures of some giant dog laying on top of its owner. It is cute, but it’s not actually a good thing. The dog is trying to keep its owner in place and is really showing dominance.
If you feel that your Shih Tzu doesn’t see you as the alpha in your house, you will need to take steps to change that.
They Might Just Be Cold
If you live up north and it is wintertime, you Shih Tzu might just be looking for a warm place to sleep. Be sure that their bed has a blanket that they can snuggle in or you can cover them with.
I live in a cold part of the country and during the winter I always add a blanket to Truman and Sammy’s bed. It gives them a little more protection from any cold coming into the house from the floor.
I also take the corner of the blanket and put it over them, so they can be super warm.
At night, when they are on the bed, I make sure they have something covering them then as well.
Keep in mind, just because they have more hair than we do, they can still get cold pretty easily. It seems my Shih Tzus start getting cold once the temperature goes below 70 degrees.
Are Shih Tzus Cuddly Dogs?
Yes, most Shih Tzus are very cuddly dogs. The thing that makes them happiest in the world is to be cuddling with their owner.
If they can sit next to you or lay on your lap, they are in heaven. Don’t be surprised if they follow you through the house as well.
Your Shih Tzu wants to be close to you pretty much all of the time.
Are All Shih Tzus so Sleepy?
Shih Tzus don’t really sleep any more than any other dog. You can expect a puppy to sleep about 14 hours per day.
Adult Shih Tzus will sleep a little less at 12 hours, and senior Shih Tzus will sleep longer.
It is natural and normal.
Does Your Shih Tzu Sleep In?
Yes, both of my Shih Tzus sleep in. In fact, they don’t get up until I drag them out of bed so I can take them outside.
Neither of them wants to get up early or wake me up. It is a rare occasion I get woken up by my Shih Tzus. If I do, it usually means one of them needs to go outside or is having some other issue.
99 percent of the time, they sleep in until I get them up.
Do All Shih Tzus Lay on Their Back to Sleep?
No, they don’t. Some Shih Tzus are back sleepers and some are side sleepers. For example, my Truman does both. Sometimes he sleeps on his back, but most of the time he sleeps on his side.
Most likely you will see that your Shih Tzu sleeps in a number of positions.
To Sum it All Up:
There are a number of reasons your Shih Tzu might be sleeping on your feet. It could be for warmth, they are feeling positive, or it could be due to their breeding. Chances are you won’t be able to change the behavior, so if it bothers you, you might have to make them sleep in their own bed at night.