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Karen B. London
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Under the Table
Why do dogs claim this spot?

Dogs often rest under the table, and in many cases, we really don’t know why. Sure, we can think of many advantages to being under the table, but that doesn’t mean that we know which reason matters to any particular dog. Here are some possibilities, though:

They can see what’s going on, but are not likely to be stepped on by people, especially kids, running about the house.

It’s a cozy, protected space that many dogs find comforting.

It’s a great place to wait for food to fall from the sky.

It’s cooler and darker under the table than elsewhere in the house, and that’s better for napping.

The table is a place where the rest of the family spends a lot of time, so it smells familiar to dogs.

Some dogs choose this space only when they are afraid, such as during Fourth of July fireworks, or bad weather, including thunderstorms, but a lot of dogs rest there even when fear does not seem to have anything to do with it.

Do your dogs rest under the table? If so, why do you think they are doing it?

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Karen B. London, PhD, is a Bark columnist and a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist specializing in the evaluation and treatment of serious behavior problems in the domestic dog.

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Submitted by Lisa Wogan | September 19 2011 |

Karen, I have to add a variation to your list. Our old dog Satchel used to always find a way to lie down so that her body was exposed but her head was under something--table, bed, chair. I don't know how she calibrated it but she'd plop down, and without making any adjustments, land so that only her head was hidden. That seems like the most vulnerable position imaginable. We probably should have bought her a set of eyeshades! Lisa

Submitted by Diane | September 20 2011 |

My older dog loves to lay in cages and under blankets....A cage is always available for him with the door open (He's a bed baby and has the run of the house.

Firehouse Bad Company loves to lay on shelves and his version of under the table is to lay on a chair.

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Submitted by kerry | September 19 2011 |

My dog enjoys being under the table if our feet are also under there. Sometimes it's a way to beg for food, though she's not a very persistent beggar. Usually I think she just likes rubbing up to our legs. If she's a little scared of something she'll also run under my legs, which often means running under the table.
The dog I had as a kid loved one corner under the dining room table. It's the first place he went when we brought him home from the pound and it was his favorite spot his entire life. I think he liked that he could see out a window and still be "sheltered" by the table.

Submitted by Allison Nastoff | September 19 2011 |

At home, Gilbert lies under the table only when there is a large gathering for a meal like Christmas dinner, so the reasoning is clearly making sure he is ready if food falls from the sky. But when we take him to my grandma's house, he can often be found sleeping under the table even when it is not mealtime. This could be to avoid being stepped on since little cousins often come to visit as well, but I also wonder if he is sensitive to the fact that if Grandma tripped over him, the consequences could be a lot more serious, and he knows that under the table, he is out of the way and doesn't pose a tripping hazard.

Submitted by Alifa Al Farkadain | September 20 2011 |

When a place it is used to be a safe place, it would became an anchor.
It's like the Linus little blanket.
An emotional link to an object that can ensure safety.

Submitted by Lisa HJ | September 20 2011 |

Our Hugo heads under the table when he's not feeling well.

Submitted by ricks | May 27 2014 |

for 2 days my dog has been under our table he sleeps with me in my bed so hes not really all day but the whole day i give him food water walk him.
I dont know if hes dyeing or not.

Submitted by Debby | September 20 2011 |

One of my dogs prefers to sleep under the futon, in her crate, under the coffee table... to me it seems that it is comforting and safe to her. She can keep an eye on things and feel protected. My other dog prefers to lay out in the open... pretty much anywhere he plops down. They are littermates, so the dichotomy is interesting.

Submitted by danielle | September 20 2011 |

One of my Great Danes loves to be under our friend's dining room table when we're over there for dinner. He fits, nose to tail, so that everyone can have feet-on-dog while dining. :-)

Submitted by Sophie | September 20 2011 |

When possible, my dog rests under a table. Always. I guess he was trained to do that. He is a retired guide dog for the blind.

Submitted by Christine | September 20 2011 |

Our Golden Retriever loves to lay ON feet. Whether it's in a sit position getting loved on, or across legs/feet while underneath the table. She'll rest her head on your shoe.

It seems to be the most bizarre, uncomfortable position possible.

Her Dad has to give ample warning on poker game nights so his buddies don't accidentally kick her.

I think she likes to be right in the middle of the action.
It is dark under there too, so maybe it's a close likeness to her crate.

Submitted by Paddymummy | September 20 2011 |

That's where Paddy gets a nice scratch or tummy rub with warm feet. Also perhaps he wants to double up as a foot rest/feet warmer.

Submitted by Lisa Potter | September 20 2011 |

When my two dogs were young, I taught them to lie quietly under the table at mealtime rather than sitting and begging. Then after we eat, they get a treat. They still do it 11 years later. One of my dogs also likes to lie under the footrest of the recliner when it's up. When I have a blanket over my legs, it hangs down and makes a nice little cave for her.

Submitted by Les | September 20 2011 |

In addition to all the other theories, I'm thinking my dog goes underneath the dining room table is because it is like a den (or cave), such as when dogs were in the wild. It's like a sanctuary/refuge for him.

Submitted by sandy | September 20 2011 |

I am pretty sure my dog goes under the table so she can see what is going on and be in the same room as us, but doesn't want her space invaded. It's unlikely one of us will crawl under the table!!

Submitted by CommonSense | October 4 2013 |

Dogs sleep under tables and over covering objects for the same reasons that we sleep under roofs.

Submitted by Dzerjinsky | December 17 2013 |

Our Minibulls are kenneled at night....and during the day, have run of the house. One of them has figured out how to open the latches to the kennels (also a variety of dog gates) and will open hers to go in and sleep. Most of the time they like going into their kennels, which are in the bedroom, as they provide security and a quiet spot.

Submitted by Marissa | May 25 2014 |

Our husky loves to lay under the coffee table ALL THE TIME. We really can't figure out why he prefers it so much, especially considering he's so big that half the time he gets stuck and can't figure out how to easily maneuver his way out when he needs to.

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