If you have a dog that likes to sit behind you, it can be helpful to understand why they might be doing so. There are a number of reasons your dog might prefer this spot, and each one warrants a different response from you.
In this article, we will cover 11 common reasons your dog might sit behind you and what you can do about it.
1. They’re Shy or Scared
If your dog is shy or scared, they may sit behind you as a way of trying to feel safer. This is especially common in new environments or around people they don’t know. This is especially common in dogs who have timid personalities.
If your dog is exhibiting this behavior, it’s important to make them feel comfortable and safe. Avoid shouting at them or punishing them, as this will only make them more scared.
Instead, try to reassure them and give them plenty of positive reinforcement. If possible, try to get them used to new environments slowly, so they don’t feel overwhelmed.
2. They Are Trying To Protect You
If your dog feels like they need to protect you, they may sit behind you as a way of doing so. This is especially common in dogs that are guard or protection dogs such as German Shepherds or Rottweilers.
Dogs like German shepherds were used for generations to guard herds and flocks of sheep from predators. Even you might not use your shepherd for this purpose, the instinct to do so is still there.
Of course, you don’t always have to own dogs from specific breeds to have one that is protective. Many dogs are capable of this behavior even if they don’t come from a line of herding dogs.
To make sure your dog’s sole motivation is to protect you, you can observe their behavior when they do this.
Are they just staying close to you or are they actively trying to ward off potential threats? How is their body language? Are they seem tense and alert? Do their eyes seem to be locked on potential threats?
3. They Want To Be As Close to You As Possible
Another possibility is that your dog just wants to be close to you. This is especially common in puppies and young dogs, who may see you as their source of security and comfort.
Dogs that want to be close to you may sit behind you or lean against you. They may also try to crawl into your lap.
If you have a dog that does this, there’s no need to worry. It just means they love you and want to be close to you. Try to give them plenty of attention and love, and they’ll be sure to return the favor.
4. They’re Anxious or Stressed
Although there is no scientific evidence to support this, some people believe that dogs may sit behind their owners as a way of releasing anxiety or stress.
This might happen when a dog is anxious about a situation, such as when they’re in a loud or crowded environment.
If your dog is exhibiting this behavior, it’s important to try and figure out what might be causing their anxiety. Once you know what the trigger is, you can work on alleviating it.
You might also want to consider enrolling them in a socializing class, which can help them get used to new environments and people.
5. It Feels Warm and Comfortable
Another possibility is that your dog is just sitting behind you because it’s warm and comfortable. Dogs often like to be close to their owners, and this is a way of doing so.
Aside from that warm feeling your dog gets from being close to you, they may also enjoy the scent of your body. Remember that dogs are driven by their sense of smell much more than we are, so your scent is probably very appealing to them as well.
6. They Are Trying To Claim You As Their Own
It could be that your dog is trying to rub their scent on you as a way of claiming you as their own. This is known as scent-marking, and it’s a common behavior in dogs.
Dogs will often do this when they see their owners as providers of food, security, and shelter.
Instinctually, they don’t want other dogs to come near what they see as the sources of their security and well-being and so they’ll mark you with their scents to warn them off.
But it’s not only limited to people. Dogs will also scent-mark items in their environment that they see as important, such as a bed, a toy, or a spot in the yard. This is when you might see them peeing on a certain spot in the yard or rubbing their rear against different objects in the house.
7. You’re Encouraging the Behavior
Think carefully about what did you do the last time your dog sat behind you. Did you pet them, scratch their back, or speak to them in a soothing voice? If so, then you might be inadvertently encouraging this behavior.
The thing to remember is that dogs are very good at repeating behaviors that get them positive attention from their owners. If you keep petting and talking to your dog when they sit behind you, they’re going to continue doing it because they know it gets you to respond.
8. They’re Not Feeling Well
If your furry friend has never shown this behavior before, and all of a sudden they start squeezing in behind you, it might be a sign that they’re not feeling well and looking for comfort.
But sitting behind their owners alone is not a definitive diagnostic sign of illness in dogs, you should also look for other symptoms such as apathy, lack of appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea.
When you notice two or more of these symptoms present in your dog, it’s time to take them to the vet.
9. They Don’t Want To Be Bothered
In some cases, your dog may be sitting behind you to avoid being bothered. Maybe they’re tired and just want some peace and quiet.
Remember that your canine has a feeling too just like you. They can feel happy, sad, grumpy just like humans. If your dog is trying to tell you that they need some space, respect their wishes and give them some time alone.
Here are some signs to look for that might indicate your dog needs some time to him or herself:
- They are hiding under furniture or in a closet
- They want to go outside alone
- They are less excited than usual when you come home
- They are more agitated than usual
- They seem to be sleeping more than usual
- They look lethargic and uninterested in things they usually enjoy
10. They Use You as a ‘Human Shield’ From Other Animals or People
Some dogs will sit behind their owners as a way of protection from other animals or people. This is often seen in dogs that have a low threshold of fear or are generally anxious.
This is especially more likely if you tend to overprotect your pooch since they were puppies. When you do this, they can become overly reliant on you as a source of security.
Take a look carefully at what else is going on in your dog’s environment when they run behind you. Is there something that’s making them scared or anxious? Maybe they see the big bully neighbor’s dog walking down the street or they hear a loud noise.
If you can identify what’s causing your dog to feel scared, you can work on helping them overcome their fears
11. They’re Showing Submission to You
Lastly, some dogs will sit behind their owners as a way of showing submission to them. This might be the least common reason, but it still happens occasionally.
Usually, dogs show submission by showing their bellies or rolling over. When dogs are in that position, it shows that they are not a threat and are willing to comply with the other dog or person.
Should You Be Worried?
Depending on the context and severity, some of the reasons mentioned above for why your dog might be sitting behind you can be cause for concern.
If your dog is constantly sitting behind you accompanied by other worrisome behaviors such as restlessness, whining, or constant barking, then yes, you should be concerned and try to help them deal with whatever is bothering them.
Otherwise, if your dog is just occasionally sitting behind you or this is something they usually do since they were puppies without any accompanying problems, then there’s no need to worry.
5 Tips for Helping a Dog Who Sits Behind Their Owner Due To Anxiety Or Other Worrying Reasons
If you’ve determined that your dog is sitting behind you out of anxiety or another worrying reason, there are a few things you can do to help them.
1. Figure Out What’s Causing Your Dog To Sit Behind You
The first step is to try and determine what’s causing your dog to sit behind you. Take a look at the list of reasons that we provided and see if any of them seem to apply. Only after you identify what is the real cause of the problem can you start to address it.
2. Create a Safe and Relaxing Environment for Your Dog
If your dog is feeling anxious or scared, one way to help them is to create a safe and relaxing environment for them. This place can be anywhere in your house as long as it’s comfortable and quiet for them.
Provide them with some soft bedding, a few favorite toys, and all things they might need such as food and water. If you can, try to dedicate an entire room to your dog where they can go to relax when they need it.
This place can also serve as a refuge for them when they’re feeling overwhelmed and need to get away from things for a little while.
3. Help Your Dog Overcome Their Separation Anxiety
There are many types of anxiety in dogs, but one of the most common types of anxiety that seem to cause dogs to sit behind their owners is separation anxiety.
Dogs who suffer from this condition become extremely agitated and stressed when their owners leave them alone. This can lead to a variety of destructive behaviors such as chewing on furniture, urinating or defecating in the house, and excessive barking.
If your dog has separation anxiety, you’ll need to work on helping them overcome it. This might require the help of a professional trainer or behaviorist.
Some popular methods include:
- Slowly increasing the amount of time that they are left alone
- Training them with positive reinforcement
- Providing them with something that can distract them from their anxiety when left alone, such as leaving a TV on for them or giving them an interactive toy to play with
- Hiring a dog sitter to stay with them when you’re not home
4. Ignore Them and Don’t Reinforce the Behavior
If your dog is sitting behind you as a way of trying to get attention, one thing you can do is to ignore them and don’t reinforce the behavior. This means not petting them, talking to them, or even making eye contact.
The idea is that if they stop getting the attention they’re seeking, they’ll eventually stop doing the behavior.
5. Take Your Dog to the Vet If You Suspect a Medical Reason
If you suspect that there might be a medical reason why your dog is sitting behind you, it might be a good idea to take them to the vet for a check-up.
There could be an underlying health issue causing them to act this way. Your vet can also help rule out mental health conditions that could be causing your dog to act out provide you with advice on how to help your dog.
It is important to notice when your dog starts sitting behind you, especially if it’s accompanied by other worrisome behaviors such as restlessness or whining. If this sounds like what’s happening in your home, then yes- be concerned!
Dogs can’t communicate with us as well as we’d like, so it’s up to us to be astute observers of their body language and behavior.
With a closer understanding of why your dog might be sitting behind you, you can start to address the issue and help your furry friend live a more comfortable life.
Some dogs seem to enjoy the closeness and attention of cuddling on someone’s chest. Your dog may be seeking your warmth and love, simply wanting to play with you, or awaiting your reaction.