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Why Does My Dog Like Sitting on Me?

 
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. December 17, 2020
Why Does My Dog Like Sitting on Me?

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When a person sits on our lap, we hope it is someone we love and trust. It is no different with a dog. When our relationship with a dog is good, we love letting them sit on us because it allows us to be physically close while showing how emotionally close we also are. However, do we always know why the dog is sitting on us? It might not always be easy to understand their intentions.

At AnimalWised, we help to understand why does my dog like sitting on me? We reveal some of the reasons why this happens, as well as showing the few reasons there might be an issue.

You may also be interested in: Why Does My Rat Bite Me?

Reasons dogs sit on us

Although they have been domesticated for a long time, we are still learning so much about how dogs think and feel. This is especially when it relates to how they interact with us humans. Although they will communicate with us through vocalizations such as barking or even crying, body language is one of the most important ways they convey information.

Some canine body language is subtle. They use certain calming signals as body language, something which is related to how they act in the wild. For example, if a wild dog wants to deescalate a situation, they will avert their gaze or even yawn to show they do not want aggression.

Their actions are also a part of their body language. When a dog drops a ball in front of us, it is most likely they want to initiate a throwing game. Other actions are a little more subtle and can be difficult to interpret. This includes when a dog comes to sit on us. This is why we need to look at some of the main reasons dogs sit on us:

  1. They love us
  2. It's in their genes
  3. They are jealous
  4. they want something
  5. We don't spend enough time with them

We detail more in the sections below.

1.They love us

Perhaps the main reason why a dog will sit on us is because they love us. Not only do they want to spend time with us, but they want to be as physically close as possible. Sitting on us is about as close as a dog can get.

If we find a scared dog, they will back into a corner to get away from us. As we slowly get to know them and earn their trust, you will see them getting closer. They smell our hand and eventually allow us to pet them. Although not all dogs will enact this behavior, for many sitting on us is the culmination of earning that trust.

Dogs will show their love in various ways. How they will do so depends on the individual, but sitting on us comfortably means they are secure enough to literally let us put them in our hands.

Why Does My Dog Like Sitting on Me? - 1.They love us

2. It's in their genes

How different dog breeds came to be depend son various factors, but most were bred for specific reasons. These reasons were both physical and behavioral. For example, hunting dog breeds were bred to be able to seek prey, retrieve it or perform various tasks related to the hunt. Other dog breeds were bred for certain physical characteristics their owners found appealing.

There are certain breeds which are considered lap dogs. While working dogs were used by gentry and serfs alike, the tradition of lap dogs spread via the upper class. Famously, royalty such as Marie Antoinette were very fond of canines who would keep her company. Having a small dog mean they could be carried around, were less likely to run off and would spend much time in repose on their owner's lap.

Marie Antoinette was particularly fond of Spaniels and lap dogs such as the Papillon. Since the dogs were bred to encourage companionship, many dogs are more likely to sit on their guardian's lap thanks to genetics. Lap dog breeds include the Maltese, Shih Tzu, Bichon Frise and the Pug, but there are many.

However, genetics is only one aspect as to why dogs sit on us. Although small dog breeds are ones which sit on us the most, their preference will depend on the individual. For example, despite their massive size, Great Danes love to be affectionate with their guardians and may even try to sit on them to be close.

3. They are jealous

To understand why a dog is sitting on us, we need to look at the context. Unfortunately, there are certain situations which suggest a dog sitting on us is not healthy. Fortunately, these situations are in the minority.

Dogs are territorial animals and they often see us as part of their pack. For the most part, this is very positive. The fact dogs make such good companion animals is the strength of the bond we can create with them. However, there are times when this can backfire. This happens when the dog is possessive.

If we see our dog comes to sit on us when there are other dogs or people around, it is possible they are jealous. They may feel insecure that the other party will take our attention away from them. By sitting on us, they are asserting to others that we belong to them. They also prevent us from getting up and moving away from them.

Healthy dogs shouldn't be this possessive. While it is great they are close to us, possessiveness is a sign they feel insecure and we need to prevent this. Our article on a dog being possessive with toys can help you know how to do this.

4. They want something

When a dog comes to put their paw on you, it is often a request for something. We often see it when we are eating food the dog thinks looks tasty. A dog sitting on us is often a way for them to petition us for something they want. To know what it is they want, we need to look at the context.

If it is around the time we normally take the dog for a walk, then they may want to go for some exercise. If their bowl is empty, they might be hungry. Other instances are not as clear, but we need to look for other signs to see if there is a problem. For example, if they are sitting on us and are relaxed, they are likely fine. If they show signs of stress, we'll need to investigate why.

Dogs will ask for something in various ways. How they do so depends on their individual personality. Some may growl, others wait patiently. Sitting on us is just one of these many ways.

5. We don't spend enough time with them

Although dogs can be possessive, sometimes their insecurity is well-founded. If we don't spend enough time with them, our dog can develop separation anxiety. When we are gone, they fear we won't come back. It is common with people who leave their dog alone when they go to work. Upon our return, they come to sit on us to help express they don't want to be left alone.

Sometimes this means we need to reduce how much the dog sits on us. If they become overly attached, it can lead to various behavioral problems such as crying loudly or destructiveness. When we are not around, we need to give them environmental enrichment. This includes toys, games and spaces to move about. ideally, if we can't be around, we should have someone spend some time with them or take them for a walk during the day.

Our dog leaning on us can be another sign we are not spending enough time with them.

Why Does My Dog Like Sitting on Me? - 5. We don't spend enough time with them

Do dogs sit on us to assert dominance?

The issue of dominance in dogs is a controversial one. Some claim that dogs treat us like wild dogs do with other canines in their pack. Wild dogs have a very specific hierarchy in a pack as they all need to fulfill certain roles to survive. Some claim our dog sits on us as a way to assert dominance over us.

While there are many traits which domestic dogs share with their wild cousins, the process of domestication has changed many of them. Dominance is an intraspecies-specific trait. Dogs do it to other dogs in the wild, but often not to the degree many claim. Although some dogs are considered ‘alpha’, all dogs in a pack have their role to fulfill. Most dominant behavior tends to be relegated to mating and determining resources.

Our dogs do not sit on us to assert their dominance as they have no need to. We provide for them and they see us as part of the family, so the hierarchy does not exist in the same way. Dogs which do become aggressive have other problems which are more likely to be related to poor socialization or trauma than an assertion of dominance.

Now we know why dogs sit on us, we can look at other ways dogs communicate with us by looking at our video on why dogs sleep next to us:

If you want to read similar articles to Why Does My Dog Like Sitting on Me?, we recommend you visit our Behavioral problems category.

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