You just came back from a busy day, tired you grab your favorite drink from the fridge, pat your dog on the head (for good behavior of course) take some sip and decide to lie down on the couch to relax a bit. All of a sudden, you feel some weight on your chest. Opening your eyes, you find your dog trying to sit on you.
The scenario might not be exact in your case but you get the picture. Your dog always wants to sit on you whenever you lie down and this seems to be happening often. So much that you start wondering whether this should be a normal behavior from your dog. You ask yourself “Why does my dog sit on me when I’m laying down?”
The summarized answer to the question “Why does my dog sit on me when I’m laying down?” can be broken into two-part
1) Your dog is trying to put his seal of authority on you and let everyone know that he or she is in charge or that you are already taken.
2) He or she might just be feeling playful and is trying to get some quality time with you.
To further understand these answers, look below at the reasons why your dog always tries to sit on you when you lie down.
a.) To spread their scent on you
b.) To assert dominance over you
c.) Breed Behaviour
d.) To show affection
e.) To play with you.
a.) To spread their scent on you: If your dog sits on you and puts his tail end on your body, then it is obvious that he is trying to rub his scent on you. Tails are very important for communication in the doggy world. Most dog parents assume that anytime their dog wags its tail, he or she must be happy. The fact of the matter is that this is not true at all.
Each dog has a unique scent. This is secreted from their anal glands hence the reason why you notice most dogs sniffing each other’s rear. Especially when they meet at first. So when a dog wags its tail, he or she is trying to spread its unique scent around the area. Don’t worry, the scent is not strong enough for the human nose to detect. (It’s a dog thing).
Wagging of their tail can be used to communicate the varying emotions your dog may be feeling, from happiness to sadness, being tense to agitation and more e.g Alpha dogs usually have their tails up most of the times, waving them evenly in both directions as a sign of being the dog in control of the situation around him. Scared dogs usually hide their tails between their legs and tailless dogs are usually very careful about how they relate to other dogs.
So where does a dog resting their tail on you come in? Well, a dog resting its tail on anything is the ultimate stamp of approval, apart from spreading its scent more physically on the person or object of affection, this acts is used by the dog to tell anyone watching especially their fellow dogs that this person (in this case you) belongs only to him or her and is not to be shared.
Even when you find yourself alone without your dog, other dogs perceive and recognize the scent. It tells them to keep off. Some dogs take the spreading of scent further, rolling on your favorite spot or anything that you seem to be attached to. If that describes your dog currently, then you should start giving your dog some extra attention, make him or her understand that they are important and special, a little dose of love and acknowledgment here and there would help your dog relax and feel secure.
b.) To assert dominance over you: At the base of everything in a dog’s life, they always want to be associated with a pack or group. In all groups or packs, there is always the struggle for dominance. For undomesticated animals, this kind of behavior is normal and usually plays itself out as a top dog always emerges but at home, this is a potentially dangerous thing.
Normally at home, you should be the obvious leader of your pack because, you provide food, shelter, security, etc for your dog or dogs. But once in a while, your dog will want to test your dominance over the group.
Some of the ways this manifests itself are: disobeying an already laid down house rule, stealing your food, running out of the house before you, trying to run way ahead of you when taking a walk, insisting on jumping on you, and yes “sitting on you while you lay down”
Dominant behaviors can be corrected easily using “Obedience Reinforcement Techniques”.If you notice that your dog is trying to exhibit aggressive behaviors towards other family members or pets while sitting on you, then a series of reprimanding him or her and some timeouts will help correct the problem. Dogs are social animals and crave attention a lot. Anything that makes you take away your attention from him or her is enough punishment for them and is likely not going to be repeated by them again.
If the behavior continues, you might consider visiting your veterinary doctor. The situation might have other medical root causes which only your vet can address properly.
c.) Breed Behaviour: Certain breed of dogs eg. Boxer dogs and Great Danes simply by their nature pile up on each other, in a sense these dogs are like townfolks, they don’t have any problem in getting into other people’s business. Mind you, this is far different from asserting dominance. They are not trying to prove anything, they just feel comfortable getting into other people’s business. (As far as you are a member of the pack)
You being the pack leader should be used to this (I assume you are the pack leader. if you are not. You better get started)
Sitting on you or a member of your family may just be one of the ways in which your dog bonds with you. Again try and find out more about your dog’s breed from your trainer or vet doctor before coming to any conclusion.
d.) To show affection: As you already know, our dogs love giving and getting affection from us. It is easy for us to forget this by looking at the busy schedules in our life. Our dogs want to be affectionate with us in many ways and one of those ways is to curl up on us and sit on us anytime this is possible.
If we are observant, we would notice that this occurrence picks up mostly when we become too busy for them. In their own way, they are trying to remind us that they are also important in the scheme of things.
Something also overlooked by pet parents is the fact that our bodies are the perfect warming systems ever. Their crate or favorite spot might just be too chilly for him or her and our bodies are the perfect place to snuggle up and enjoy some warmth and affection.
e.) To play with you: Yes your dog might just want to play with you. Especially when you notice that this sitting arrangement is accompanied by rolling over you and maybe some playful sounds.
You may indulge your dog with a little play fighting, that’s depending on the type of relationship you have built up with him or her. Everything about your dog doesn’t need to have some in-depth sophisticated meaning to it. They just want to have some quality time with their pet parents and that is it. Nothing more nothing less.
Something of importance worth noting is that for whatever reason, your dog tries to sit or lay on you. It must be on your own terms and not on their insistence. Obviously, this has to be achieved through some form of Obedience training for our beloved dogs.
One effective way of doing this training is to stand up anytime your dog tries to lie on your chest without your permission. Your dog may try to insist, but you must remain resolute (after all, you are the leader of the pack). After your dog has calmed down, you can now lay and invite your dog to sit on you by saying the word “chest” (or any other command word you want to use). Your dog is likely to oblige and sit on you. After some time, you can use the command “Off” and use your hand to indicate where you want him or her to go.
Anytime your dog follows through on the commands, make sure to reward them with a pat or a treat, whichever is easier to use for you. The main point here is to be consistent with the rewards.
If your dog is doing this to assert dominance, it is more important that you remain resolute in the process and you can even include timeout as a deterrent for your dog. The more your dog understands that your chest is a place of privilege and not a right, the better your relationship.
Hi, I am Charles Nwankwo Editor-in-Chief, Mydoggything.com. Gleaning from Professional Dog Trainers, behaviorist, Registered Veterinarians, and Breeders. We are passionate about making dog care easy for you. My job is to make sure that you get the best-updated dog care information to understand and take care of your dog or dogs.