Cats may be the more famous snugglers (that is, when they feel like it) but quite a few dogs can be found sliding into their owners’ laps regularly as well. And we’re not talking just little dogs either; plenty of large and giant breed pups will plop right down if given the opportunity, much to their owner’s dismay!
If your dog loves to treat you like a favorite recliner, have you ever wondered why that is? Of all the resting spots in all the rooms in your house, your dog still chooses to sit on you. Here are seven possible reasons why your dog may be performing this behavior, as well as how to break them of this habit should you choose to do so.
The 7 Common Reasons Your Dog Likes To Sit On You
1. To Show Dominance
Your dog may sit on your lap to show other pets or family members that they are in control or in charge. In this case, your dog may view the perch of your lap as a position of power. If you particularly notice your dog sitting on your lap around new or unfamiliar dogs, it may be dominance-related.
In extreme cases, your dog may take things a step further and behave aggressively towards anyone who comes near while they’re sitting in your lap. This behavior should be discouraged, with professional help if necessary.
2. To Spread Scent
Dogs use scent-marking to communicate various messages to other dogs. One of the most common uses of scent is to claim or mark the dog’s territory. When your dog sits in your lap or rubs themselves on you, they may be spreading their scent onto what they consider their territory: you. Again, you may notice that this behavior occurs more frequently in the presence of other dogs if your dog is sitting on you to spread their scent.
3. To Show Affection
If your dog is a particularly loving and affectionate breed, they may choose to sit in your lap as a way to bond with you. Some dogs just really enjoy being close to their people and do whatever they can to keep in contact with them, including sitting on them.
4. To Start Playtime
Sometimes your dog may sit in your lap to try to initiate some playtime! Especially if you’re sitting on the floor or the grass outside, your dog may sit or wriggle into your lap as a way to entice you into a game of chase or a wrestling match. If this is the reason for your dog sitting on you, you’ll probably find them performing other behaviors like nuzzling or licking you and whining.
5. To Comfort You
Dogs are excellent at reading human moods and emotions. Your dog may crawl into your lap if they sense you’re in need of some snuggles and comfort. Some dogs are trained therapy dogs, but all dogs seem to come with the desire to make sure their humans are okay.
6. To Feel Safe
You may especially notice that your small dog or puppy seeks shelter in your lap when they are feeling worried or fearful. In this case, your dog is trusting that you will protect them from whatever it is they’re scared of when they sit on you. As long as your dog uses the home base of your lap to build confidence rather than descend into fear aggression, this behavior shouldn’t be a concern.
7. To Keep You From Getting Up
Your dog might be smart enough to realize that sitting in your lap and looking adorable may make you more likely to keep sitting and paying attention to them rather than going on about your day. In this case, you’re basically teaching your dog to sit in your lap by positively reinforcing the behavior. Again, watch out that your dog doesn’t develop undesirable behaviors like trying to nip or growl at you when you do finally get up.
How to Keep Your Dog From Sitting on You
Most of the time, you probably don’t mind your dog sitting on you or you may just find it mildly annoying. Sometimes, especially if you have a large dog, lap-sitting can be downright uncomfortable. And in some cases, your dog may take sitting on you to a darker place, developing aggressive behaviors. Whatever the reason, how do you keep your dog from sitting on you if you don’t want them to?
The simplest way to stop your dog from sitting on you is to stand up as soon as they try to do it. If you actively push or lift your dog off of you, they may interpret it as play behavior and keep coming back for more. Keep standing up until your dog gets the idea that you don’t want them sitting on you.
If you want to teach your dog to sit in your lap only with permission, you can then start introducing a word such as “Up!” or “Lap!” to help your dog to learn to sit on you on command. Reward your dog when they wait for permission before sitting on you.
If your dog has already developed bad behavior related to sitting on you, it may be best and safest to seek professional help, especially if your dog is showing aggression towards you or other family members. Your vet may have suggestions or may be able to recommend a trainer or veterinary behaviorist who can assist you.
The bond between humans and dogs is undeniably special. Because your dog can’t talk, they use many other behaviors to let you know how they feel about you. Sitting on you is just one of those behaviors and only one of the reasons your dog may perform this feat. Most of the time, your dog sitting on your lap is okay as long you are okay with it. If you start noticing any of the concerning behaviors we discussed, it might be time to retire yourself as a doggy sofa!
- You may also want to read: Why Do Dogs Pin their Ears Back? Here’s Why!
Featured Image Credit: Zhanna Fashayan, Shutterstock