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Do you wonder, “why does my dog lay on me when there is a comfortable place next to me?” Could there be any real motivation behind your dog sitting or lying on you?
For some dog lovers, it’s a comforting pose, while others feel crushed by the weight of their furry friend. Either way, the behavior is widespread and widely recognized as a form of affection.
Read on to learn more about canine behavior and what it means when your dog lays on you.
Table Of Contents
- Why Does My Dog Lay on Me?
- What to Do About Your Dog Laying on Top of You?
- Final thoughts
Why Does My Dog Lay on Me?
Your dog will always lay on top of you because they are either protective of you or want your attention. Their protective instinct kicks in when they sense threats against you. It is also possible that you have unconsciously reinforced the behavior. When rewarded, your dog will repeat a specific behavior.
However, be wary if your dog is on top of you because of separation anxiety.
Below are some common causes and what would make them more likely.
Spreading Their Scent
Some dogs will sit on the couch “your spot” or even roll over your sofa to spread their scent and show that you belong to them. If they think that’s not enough, they’ll sit on you. Most dog parents don’t mind this behavior at first, but it’s important to note if this behavior happens in a pattern.
If your dog does it after another dog visits your home or after he’s been outside, dog parents may want to pay a little more attention to their pup. A little extra attention will help your dog make sure he’s all yours and can prevent unwanted markings in the house.
It is more comfortable
The cause may be that he finds sleeping on you more comfortable. This is more likely if he chooses to sleep there rather than in his bed, if he rests his head on you, and if he doesn’t seem to be acting abnormally.
Another reason your dog may lie on you could be feeling stress or dealing with an anxiety disorder.
Many dogs that come from rescue houses, shelters, puppy mills, or have ever been stray dogs usually show signs of trauma, also known as a post-traumatic stress disorder, which affects both humans and animals after a difficult, stressful, and traumatic event or a difficult childhood or puppyhood.
Fearful dogs are often prone to violent outbursts, anger toward traits such as tall people, hats or loud noises, or other dogs. They also seek shelter, calm and quiet spaces, and physical attention from their primary caregiver to calm their anxiety.
If your dog is lying to you regularly and you are concerned that he may have an anxiety problem, consider taking him to the vet as soon as possible. Many dogs with anxiety benefit from antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications prescribed by their vet.
The behavior of the Breed
Certain breeds of dogs are very affectionate and feel the need to be in your space all the time. Great Danes, for example, are considered gentle giants and are known to prefer children. So it may be perfectly normal for a large dog to try to sit on a small lap as a way to bond with and protect its playmate.
It is being protective.
The reason it does it may be because it’s protective. This is more likely if it also becomes protective when around other people or animals. It would also be more likely if it tends to do it when other people are around and if it faces the front door when it does.
Your dog wants attention.
Sometimes a dog’s attention-seeking behavior can become too much.
This is normal for puppies. Their survival depends on their mother’s care.
But as they mature, their tactics to get attention can be annoying.
Here are some everyday things dogs do to get attention:
- Being restless.
- Climbing on top of you.
- They put their faces next to yours.
Dogs Detecting Illness
A rather unlikely but possible reason that your dog suddenly starts laying on you could be due to its ability to detect disease in humans. While not all dogs have this ability, researchers have found that when a domestic dog has a strong bond with its humans, its sense of smell is tuned accordingly.
Therefore, the dog may be able to detect the following conditions:
- Parkinson’s disease
Some dogs can also detect seizures before they happen and are trained to alert their owners so they can find a safe place before they happen.
While this is a true marvel in animal-human research, don’t worry too much if your dog starts to lie on you. While it’s always a good idea to see a doctor, the chances of your pup thinking there’s something wrong with your health are very slim.
It is waiting for something.
It could also be because it is waiting to get something from you. This would be more likely if it tends to do it more around the same time you would typically give it something like food or a walk.
When you meet a new dog, you may want to ask yourself if the dog is sitting on me to assert its dominance. If you’ve recently added a new dog to your pack, one of them may sit on you and claim he’s the best dog. Sitting on people often makes dogs feel higher and more in control. If you notice your dog barking or growling at other pets while sitting on your lap, it could be a sign that your dog is feeling the need to assert his dominance. If the behavior becomes more frequent or aggressive, PetMD suggests it may be time to talk to your vet about ways to deal with the problem. However, it happens once in a while for most dogs, so there’s nothing to worry about.
What to Do About Your Dog Laying on Top of You?
Now that we’ve covered some of the possible answers to – why does my dog lay on top of me – let’s discuss what to do if your dog is so on top of you when you want him to rather not.
Positive reinforcement training
One option would be to train your dog to lie down elsewhere using positive reinforcement training. This is where you encourage it to behave a certain way by rewarding it when it shows signs of behavior.
If you want to use it to lay or sleep in a particular place, you can do the following:
- Make the location where you want to sleep comfortably.
- Let your dog stand and reward him.
- Encourage your dog to lay down by giving him a treat.
- Continue to repeat the process a few times a day until it realizes that if it lays there, it will get rewards.
Avoid encouraging the behavior.
Dogs are intelligent creatures. They will continue to do something if they are rewarded for it.
Next time they try to lie on you, scare them off. This is how your dog learns its limits.
If you are deterring your dog, do so gently. No yelling. No abrupt pushing. Otherwise, they’ll feel like you’re rejecting them. And this can be not very clear for them.
Let them stay close to you. But only where you want them, for example, at your feet. Or next to you if they are allowed on the couch or in bed.
Reduce its separation anxiety
As mentioned above, it could be because it has some separation anxiety. It would help reduce how anxious he gets by giving him exercise, peeing, and feeding before he leaves so he doesn’t have to wait so long.
Instead of just focusing on why my dog lies on me, shift gears and let your dog believe that sleeping in his place is the way to get your love and attention.
If you ask why my dog lies on top of me suddenly feels guilty and lonely for dog hugs, let your pup sleep where he wants. Another option is to park your dog at your feet or on the ground next to you. This can be an excellent compromise.