For quite some time, I had been wondering about my dog’s peculiar habit: he likes to lay on top of me. So if your dog happens to have the same habit, and you’re curious about why that is, here’s the short answer.
The primary reason why your dog likes to lay on top of you is to show their affection and form a close bond with you. Most dogs will naturally do those things to someone they view as their family or pack.
Although the most common, those two reasons are not the only ones; here are a few other causes.
Reasons Why Your Dog Likes Laying on You
1. Your dog is showing you affection and love
Dogs always lay on top of their owners (even while they sleep) is a loving sign of affection common in a dog-owner relationship. It is actually a good sign if your dog likes to lay by your side or on top of you because it shows that they feel connected to you. By allowing your dog to be close to you, you will strengthen your bond even further.
2. It is comfortable and feel safer for your dog
Your dog may find you more comfortable and warm than their own bed. If you have a slightly small dog with less hair, this might be their main motivation to lay or sleep on top of you. He needs your body heat to warm them up, especially during the winter months.
Regardless of their body sizes, all dogs tend to feel safer near their owners. This behavior can be traced back to the history of dogs when their ancestors lived in the wild. In the wild, dogs used to live in packs for their protection.
The same thing goes when they live with a human family. Dogs usually see their human owners as their alpha dogs and masters and therefore feel safe in their presence.
3. Your dog wants your attention
When dogs feel lonely, they can act out in a number of different ways to get your attention, such as poking, pawing, licking, nipping, etc., and of course including sleeping and laying on top of their owners.
This is especially true for dogs who are left in the house alone during the day and experience what is called separation anxiety. One sure sign of separation anxiety is when they become anxious just before you leave the house.
To alleviate their loneliness, the dogs will show extreme excitement when their owners return home and demand extra attention from them.
4. Your dog is being protective or trying to assert their dominance
When two or more dogs living together, often one will likely become more protective or try to assert their dominance over other dogs by laying on top of their owners. This is a dog’s way of saying you are theirs, and no other dogs should ever dare to come close to you.
If being protective or asserting dominance is your dog’s root motivation, in addition to laying on top of you, he may also growl or bark at other dogs that try to come near you.
5. You encourage this behavior
Another cause could be that you encourage this behavior since he was a small puppy. As dog owners, we often find it cute and adorable when our puppies lay on use and give them back or belly rubs to play with them.
This act encourages our dogs to repeat this behavior more and more as they feel rewarded by doing so.
6. Your dog wants something from you
Since dogs can’t speak, at least they can’t communicate in human language; they use other ways to relay their needs and wants to their humans.
Your dog could lay on top of you because they want something from you. This could be anything from wanting to play with you, waiting for a treat, going to bed, etc. Or, in some cases, want to hide what they did from you.
How to Figure Out The Main Reason Why Your Dog Has Been Doing It?
Careful observation is your best tool to determine the main reason why your dog has been doing it. Ask yourself this question: what was going before your dog began doing it?
For example, if your dog does this every time you leave your dog home alone, the case could be due to him experiencing separation anxiety.
Here are other questions to ask:
- Does your dog do this before you feed him?
- Does your dog do this before you take him outside?
- What are you doing at the same time?
Should You Be Concerned with Your Dog’s Behavior?
Since dogs are social animals, it’s quite normal for your dog to crave attention and interaction with you (especially if he is still a puppy). If you enjoy your dog’s companion and don’t mind him laying on top of you, there is no reason to be concerned and discourage this behavior.
However, on the other hand, if you find it annoying, below are few things that you can do to discourage this behavior from your dog.
What Can You Do To Stop Your Dog From Laying On Top of You?
1. Discourage the behavior
If you feel annoyed by your dog’s lying-down habit, the first thing to do is to avoid encouraging this behavior. But, of course, if your furry buddy has been encouraged to do this habit since he was a puppy, you need to be more delicate in your approach than you would when dealing with a dog that develops the behavior late when older.
You can start small by moving your dog away or gently sliding him off whenever he lays on top of you. To make sure he doesn’t feel rejected, allow him to stay by your side for at least a few minutes.
After a few minutes, cue your dog to go to his bed.
2. Use positive reinforcement training
Remember, there should be no yelling, shouting, or abrupt pushing during the whole process. Just like humans, dogs respond better and much more quickly to positive reinforcement than to negative. So make sure the whole experience remains positive and enjoyable.
3. Make your dog bed or crate as comfy as possible
The last step is to ensure that your dog bed or crate is comfortable. Put your dog’s favorite toys around his bed and buy a mattress that has the appropriate length and width and is made from good material. Put your dog’s bed somewhere where he can still see you or your family. This way, he knows you are not rejecting him, but you are simply changing his sleeping area.
Reward him with a treat and praise him whenever he does stay off of you and lay on his own bed. Continue this process for a couple more weeks until your dog automatically and consistently sleeps in his bed.