Dogs often turn to their owners for support—a normal response to high-stress situations. If your pet is constantly seeking security by hiding behind your legs, however, he may be experiencing elevated levels of anxiety. Here, PetBucket, the online retailer for tick and flea treatment for dogs and cats, reveals why your dog hides behind your legs – and how you can help.
Why do dogs hide behind their owner’s legs?
We all know a dog that is constantly weaving through, walking between, or leaning on his owner’s legs. Some pets do this when company is over, while others prefer hiding when they’re out and about. What all of these dogs have in common, however, is that they’re seeking safety and comfort from the people they love.
Dogs are pack animals, so it’s no wonder they seek reassurance from their pack leaders when encountering a new person or place. This is quite different from other animals like cats and horses, who simply run away when a threat looms large. If Fido is hiding behind your legs, then it is a sign that he trusts you and is turning to you for support. This behavior is totally normal when caused by a thunderstorm or trip to vet’s office, but it can be a sign of serious anxiety when your pet is constantly scurrying behind your legs.
Do you need to take measures to address your dog’s anxiety?
If your dog hides behind you each time a friend visits or you travel to a new place, you may need to take measures to address his anxiety.
Talk to your veterinarian about pet care and how to help your pet deal with his fear. He may suggest measures, such as a ThunderShirt, that can help Fido feel more secure. In addition to these, you’ll need to stop doting on your companion every time he hides behind you, since this reinforces the notion that something is different and Fido’s fear is justified. Instead, provide your dog with encouragement and remain patient as he works through the situation that is making him uneasy.
If he’s in a new place, encourage your pet to play or explore. If he’s anxious about meeting new people, take introductions slowly and in a calm environment. If your dog becomes too scared or if he begins to show aggressive behavior, remove him from the perceived threat immediately and try reintroducing it at a later time.
It’s important to note that not all dogs are scared when they weave in and out their owners’ legs. What may have started as a reaction to fear can develop into attention-seeking behavior, once your pet realizes it elicits your response. It’s easy to feed this bad habit by giving your pet the attention he craves when he circles your legs. To break the habit, simply stop giving your dog attention when he hides behind or walks between your legs. Eventually, he’ll realize the best way to earn a reward is to behave calmly and obey commands.