Why does my dog kick me when lying down

Why does my dog kick me when lying down?

Last Updated: August 20, 2023
correct answerThe Short Answer is:

The cause of a dog kicking when lying down can be attributed to several factors. Part of a possession marking behaviour, Scratching her back, Attention seeking, Expression of excitement, Being submissive/ anxious, and Scratching their paws on the floor to mark territory.

In this article you will know the answer to the query “Why does my dog kick me when lying down?“.

Is your dog happiest when hes right by your side or inches away from your feet every morning and every night?

Why does my dog kick me when lying down

My answer is yes.

It can be very touching because it demonstrates how much she loves me but if she follows me everywhere it can get a little tiresome.

Is that part of my dogs “shadow” behavior when he lies down next to me and kicks me?

What motivates her to do this?

The kicking behavior of dogs is quite common so in this article I wanted to dig a little deeper and explore the causes of this behavior.

Why do dogs kick their back legs whilst they are asleep?

I have two Golden Retrievers one of whom has a very active dream life.

Her sluggishness is most noticeable after a long or vigorous walk.

Active means that her body is moving a lot while she is lying down.

She kicks her back legs heavily as part of this action. 

As you can see from the video of Sylvie asleep on the right her back legs are kicking right away.

As I sit next to her on the couch they would normally be kicking me – but I needed to move away from her a bit in order to get a clearer view!

Additionally her dreams do not only cause her to move her back legs- but her front legs are also twitching as are her eyes eyebrows and ears.

Occasionally we are treated to the sound of Sylvies blood-curdling howl which can really freak you out if you are caught unawares.

She is such a quiet dog when she is awake which is so strange!

In a moment I’ll explain a little more about why dogs sleep like this. 

Now I’d like to discuss other reasons why my dog kicks me when shes lying down.

Maybe you’ll experience some of these as well. 

Why do dogs kick their back legs when they are awake?

Besides kicking me with her back legs Sylvie does at least four other things.

In these examples although she is still lying down she is wide awake

1. Part of a possession marking behaviour of me

I mentioned earlier that Sylvie followed me wherever I went.

The first time she kicks me is when she lies next to me while I sit in the living room in the evening.

Having swiveled onto her back she stretches out her hind legs as she lies at my feet.

This behavior is much more likely to occur when friends or family are present.

Now that there are different people in the house she is more eager to claim me as her own.

2. Scratching her back 

Sylvie sometimes kicks out at me when she is lying on her back but this is to help her scratch her back.

When there is no one around this usually happens.

As Sylvie turns onto her back she kicks out against my legs and wriggles herself against the rug so that she can get a good scratch!

3. Attention seeking

Its strange because my dog spends so much of her day trying to get my attention!

However I want to focus more on one specific behavior.

Playing short games of fetch with a ball at home is something Sylvie does from time to time.

Often she will kick or nudge me with her back leg to get me to throw the ball for her “once more”. 

4. Expression of excitement

Sylvie kicks me as well when she rolls over onto her back just before we go for a walk.

In her enthusiasm to go out for a walk she will rush up to me and barrel roll on her back and kick out at me while I am putting my shoes on or putting my boots on.

The funny thing about this display of excitement is that she kicks my hand away so I have to do up my laces all over again!

5. Being submissive/ anxious

Sylvie has also been kicked out with her back legs when she is being submissive to me.xx

Its especially important when I’m about to do something she does not like.

As an example you could clean your ears.

Despite her aversion to having her ears cleaned Sylvie has to get them cleaned sometimes since like a dog who loves swimming she needs them cleaned.

The cleaning is usually done by my wife.

Sylvie heads in the opposite direction as soon as she sees my wife going to the cupboard where all the equipment is kept.

As soon as my wife catches up with her Sylvie flips onto her back and either sticks her back paws in the air to display her submissiveness or kicks her legs so that my wife has to work hard to get to her ears! 

6. Scratching their paws on the floor to mark territory

As an example of a recent time when Sylvie was kicked out with her back legs we were on a walk.

Normally this happens when we are sitting at the local park.

Normally Sylvie is lying down close by (of course!) and she will roll and kick out with her back legs to mark her territory.

Dogs mark their territories with the scent on the pads of their feet.

Dogs also scratch at the ground after defecating because of this reason which is why they go round and round before they lie down.

When dogs use their front paws this action looks more natural but Sylvie uses both.

When she kicks her back legs into the ground she makes a strange and exaggerated movement. 

In this article I have focused primarily on why dogs (or more specifically my dog!) kick me when they are lying down but now I want to think more broadly and discuss the many different positions that dogs can assume. 

What are the common lying positions of dogs?

Todays star Sylvie tends to kick me when shes on her side or when shes lying on her back belly up.

Although I have discussed the different things that a dog might communicate through kicking we can also learn a lot from the position of their bodies. 

Dogs can lie in ten different positions while sleeping according to this website.

A dogs position tells us something about how he is feeling and what he is thinking.

Sleeping on your side and sleeping on your belly are two examples. 

When dogs are comfortable and relaxed they tend to adopt the side and belly up positions.

There is no surprise for Sylvie since all of the examples I gave you were of Sylvie at home (with the exception of just one). 

The way that Sylvie sleeps a lot is in a “donut” shape- when a dog curls into the tiniest possible shape. 

It is supposed to signal that a dog is quite anxious and highly tense in this position.

Many dogs adapt this behavior when they adapt to a new environment.

Sylvie does not seem to fit into this category but I wonder if it is related to her love of sleeping in small spaces.

You can place it on top of a footstool or on a small wicker chair.

They’re both great spots when you’re a six-month-old puppy but not when you’re a five-year-old 60-pound dog!

One of the best positions I have seen any dog lie in has a few names. It is called the Frog position by some and the Superman position by others.

It occurs when a dog lies with her front legs stretched out (in front of them) and her back legs stretched out behind her.

Sylvie does not adopt this position anymore.

The French Bulldog of my stepdaughter does and it is amazing to see. 

Whenever I see him it looks as if he has completely given up and cannot (or would not) move another inch?

Why does my dog kick me when lying down? 

Several factors can cause a dog to kick when he or she is lying down.

I have described seven possible reasons why one of my dogs kicks out or kicks me in this article.

The cutest thing I have ever seen is a dog kicking its back legs while dreaming.

With Sylvie my favorite kick is when she gently prods me with her back foot to remind me that there is a ball close by that she wants to play with!

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Amanda Dogs Trainer

Amanda (Author)

With over a decade of experience, Amanda is a distinguished dog trainer. Her expertise in canine behavior has transformed countless lives, fostering harmonious human-canine connections. Through compassionate and personalized approaches, she empowers owners to understand and connect with their furry companions, creating a legacy of joyful tails and transformed lives.

Osvaldo Maciel Dogs Trainer

Osvaldo Maciel (Content Reviewer)

Osvaldo Maciel, a stalwart in the field with 14 years of experience, is a revered dog trainer. His journey is defined by a profound understanding of canine behavior, shaping unbreakable human-canine bonds. Osvaldo guides owners to connect with their beloved pets, leaving an indelible mark of happiness and transformation. His legacy shines through the countless lives he has touched.

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