Ever ask yourself, "Why is this dog sitting on me when there is a comfy spot right next to me?" Is it just funny or could there be some real motivation behind your dog sitting or lying on you? Here are five reasons why your dog may sit on you rather than next to you, and tips for when to encourage, and when to discourage, a dog from sitting on your lap.
Touch me, touch me not
Since hugging is not something that dogs engage in with each other, dogs generally do not enjoy being hugged by humans. However, dogs who have a good relationship with each other will often lie together touching each other or rest their heads on each other. So your pooch is just reminding you that they enjoy your presence. The sitting might be accompanied with some rolling around in your lap and even playful noises which is often an invitation to some light wrestling and playing, perhaps followed by your dog kissing you to death. Let the good times roll!
Pet parent pats
You may have referred to yourself as a pet parent for many years - the good news is that the research has finally caught up and shown us that dogs have the same relationship with their primary care-giver that children do. So your dog really does enjoy being close to you (they are not just looking for snacks), and they will also seek comfort from you when they are feeling a little unsure about something.
It’s just comfier
For large breed dogs, chairs and sofas just happen to be at a height that is more convenient than the floor, so they will often ‘perch’ their bottoms while keeping their front feet on the floor. For small dogs, the couch is generally more comfortable than the floor and has the added bonus of giving them a better view than their position on the floor allows.
But why do they have to sit on the human? Well, that is something that your clever canine has learnt will generally elicit a pat, stroke or massage from the human hands attached to the lap.
Dog personalities are as numerous and varied as human ones, and not all dogs are lionhearts. When your dog feels uncertain or apprehensive about something, they will turn to you for comfort and being on top of you is the best way to ensure that they are safe.
If you are finding that your dog can’t cope with unfamiliar situations unless they are sitting on you, then you should consider contacting a qualified animal behaviourist for help.
Your dog may have a favourite toy, bed, or treat that they will protect from other dogs by holding onto it and growling (or worse) if another dog looks like they may be making moves to steal it. Humans are not as easy to move to a more defensible location, so your pooch will make their claim by sitting on you.
This is usually not a problem if all the dogs are respectful of each other’s communication signals, however, if this behaviour inevitably leads to fights, you should discourage it by asking your dog to lie somewhere else, or getting up and moving away if they are getting growly.
Dogs may sit on you for a variety of reasons, but one thing is for sure: having a dog near you makes every day better!
Chrissie Klinger is an educator, writer and mother of two children, three dogs and three cats. Her dog Jake loves sitting on her lap every chance he gets! She enjoys living an active and eco-friendly lifestyle in rural Pennsylvania.
Reviewed by Dr. Aileen Pypers, BSc, BVSc, PGDip