Why Does My Dog Lay on Me and What to Do About It

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You sit down on the couch to watch your favorite show, and just as you get comfortable, your dog jumps up and plops down squarely on your lap. 

At first, this behavior seems cute, so we give our dog a few scratches and go back to watching the show. But, after a while, our legs fall asleep, we’re uncomfortable, and the cuteness factor wears off. We just want our dog to go lay somewhere else. 

Dogs lay on their owners for different reasons. For example, your dog might be a little co-dependent and doesn’t want to leave your side. Your dog doesn’t believe that you can protect yourself, and so they will step in and take on that role by laying on you.

Check this out: 10 Reasons why your dog wakes up during the night

Reasons Why Your Dog Lays on You

Each dog and each situation is different. Take a look at the list below to see some of the reasons your dog lays on you, and what to do about it.

  1. Seeking attention
  2. Protective dog
  3. Jealous dog
  4. Warm lap
  5. Insecure dog
  6. Affectionate dog

Your dog wants attention

Dog owners everywhere know that dogs love attention! Whether you realize it or not, whenever your dog lays on you, you’re probably giving it attention. You may pet them for a few minutes, pat their head, or just say something to them.

What may have started innocently enough, is now a sure-fire way for your dog to get attention from you. You’re probably not even giving this action a second thought, but your dog is.

Every dog owner will tell you that dogs are masters at getting us to do what they want us to do: feed me when I want to be fed, pet me when I want to be pet, let me go outside when I want to go outside.

If your dog knows they will receive attention from their favorite person (AKA you) when they jump in your lap, they will repeat this behavior over and over again because you’re giving them exactly what they want.

Your dog is protective

In your dog’s world, the pack leader’s number one role is to protect the pack. Dogs are intuitive and can easily determine who the pack leader in the home is.

If your dog decides that you’re not quite fulfilling your role as pack leader in the house, they may take over that role and engage in protective “alpha” behaviors to protect you (the weaker member of the pack). 

The way your dog sees it, they’re not bothering you when they lay on you, and the rest of the house, safe. 

Your dog is jealous of others having your attention

Have you noticed that your dog lays on you only when others are around? Perhaps you notice your dog just has to lay on you when you have a group of friends over, or when you and your partner are watching television.

If your dog most often lays on you when others are present, this is less a sign of affection, and more like your dog is putting a stake in the ground that is your lap and telling everyone else to stay away. Essentially, your dog is claiming ownership of you. 

Dogs that exhibit this type of behavior may also begin growling or snapping at others when they approach you. Depending on how severe this behavior is, and to avoid your dog injuring or intimidating others, it’s best to seek the help of a reputable trainer to reverse this behavior.

You may also be interested inWhy Does My Dog Hump Me?

Your lap is warm

More often than not, we associate cats as the guilty party when it comes to laying on laps for warmth. But, little dogs, or dogs with thin fur, or no fur at all, like the Chinese Crested Dog, or Chihuahua, will also migrate to your lap for extra warmth. Senior dogs may also seek your lap out as a place for extra warmth.

If your dog looks to you as a way to stay warm, consider adding a few more cozy blankets to their dog bed, or purchasing a dog sweater for added comfort.

Some owners may even find it useful to place a heating pad in their dog’s bed. If you go with a heating pad, be sure to purchase one with a timer and automatic turn-off time for extra safety.

Your dog is insecure

Separation anxiety affects a lot of dogs. Dogs are pack animals by nature, so being around other members of their family is important to their well-being.

A lot of factors can cause separation anxiety. More recently, this innate desire to be near their owners may have kicked into overdrive for some dogs as more and more people have transitioned to working from home.

As we spend more time during the day with our pets, you may have inadvertently turned your dog into a velcro dog. In other words, they want to be at your side more than usual – this includes laying on top of you.

Because your dog has grown used to being around you, when you leave your dog now, they lose that sense of security. Laying on top of you could be your dog’s way of making sure you don’t go anywhere – unless, of course, you take them with you!

Your dog is showing affection

There’s no question that dogs love their people. We view each other as members of the family. Occasionally, your furry friend might lay on you to show you just how much they love you! This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but they should still respect your personal space when you want them to.

Tips for Getting Your Dog to Stop Laying on You

There’s no question when your dog lays on you, sometimes it’s pretty cute. Other times, however, the last thing you want is your best friend taking over your space. So, what should you do if your dog won’t stop laying on you? 

Check out this list of handy tips.

Avoid encouraging behavior

We don’t always realize when we encourage our dogs to engage in behaviors we don’t like. When trying to discourage your dog from laying on you, avoid encouraging behavior like petting your dog while they’re on you.

Petting your dog while they engage in this behavior creates a positive association in their mind. They may even think you want them to lay on you because you are rewarding the behavior.

If you want your dog to stop laying on you, remove the dog from your lap, stand up and move to another room for a few moments. When you sit down again, if your dog lays on you, repeat the behavior.

Making your lap an uncomfortable place to lay will discourage your dog from seeking it out. As with all dog training techniques, this takes repetition and consistency.

Positive reinforcement

Your dog may be laying on your lap because it doesn’t have another place of its own to rest. You can remedy this by creating a designated sleeping area that’s welcoming for your pet. This area could be a dog crate, a plush doggie bed, or a folded blanket. 

Be sure to place the dog bed or crate in a place where your sleeping pup won’t be disturbed by heavy foot traffic. The corner of the family room or living room is a great location. This way, your dog will still be able to see all of its pack members, but it will feel safe and secure in its own space.

When encouraging your dog to lay in their crate, it may help to put a crate cushion and blanket on the bottom for added comfort. Placing a few of their favorite toys in their sleeping area will reinforce the idea that their doggie bed, and not your lap, is the perfect spot in the house for them to relax!

As your dog is getting used to its new doggie bed, periodically offer them a few treats. If your dog associates their bed with something delicious like their favorite treats, they are more likely to stay there.

Managing separation anxiety

Following the advice of creating a cozy bed for your dog will also help manage your dog’s separation anxiety. Providing a safe space for your dog reduces their fear and anxiety.

Some trainers also encourage giving your dog a puzzle game to “solve” while they are in their bed or crate. Because these types of toys require more time, your dog will, by default, spend more time in their new bed.   

The Bottom Line

Your dog should only lay on you when it’s on your terms. Remember, all dogs have different reasons for laying on their owners, and each situation will require a unique solution tailored to your dog’s needs.

Once you pinpoint the reason, you can get started remedying the behavior.

Photo of author
Lisemaine is a dog lover. She currently owns a Frenchie and enjoys working with and training her. She'll share her best tips with you to keep your dog happy, healthy, and active.


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