When you’re lying down, sometimes a dog may come and stand on top of you. This really can be annoying sometimes. You aren’t sure why they are doing this or if it is their way of showing affection (it’s not) or just something that dogs do to each other in general.
There are many reasons why your dog stands on you. They’re, of course, demanding your attention, but they can also be doing it because they are looking for affection. If their tail is wagging and happy while they do it, then the intent is more likely just to show that they love you and want some attention in return. Other reasons could be that some dogs want to assert dominance, some are trying to be your protector, and others want something from you.
1. Your Dog is Looking for Attention
It’s a natural part of a dog’s behavior to want to be noticed by their owners. For example, if a dog wants attention, they may walk up on their hind legs and put their front paws on the owner’s chest or face, tug at clothing, or paw at the owner’s leg. This is an effort to communicate that they are looking for affection from you. They will try anything to get your attention, and one way of doing this is by standing on you.
2. Your Dog is Trying to Assert Their Dominance
A dominant dog will often assert themselves by standing on those in lower positions. Think of it this way; if you have a group of friends, and there is one friend who likes to be in charge, they might walk around with their arms crossed and put their feet up on the couch. After all, that’s where they want to sit, right? They are trying to assert dominance because they want to be at the top of the pecking order.
Likewise, when your dog stands on you, it is also an effort to communicate that they are higher than you in status, although usually domesticated dogs view their owners as the alpha male and not the other way around.
Despite many theories, dominant behavior is not a typical personality trait in any breed of dog and should be controlled. If left unchecked, these behaviors can lead to major problems such as aggression towards humans and other animals. Therefore, if you’ve got a “top dog” in your household, it may be necessary to modify their behavior and curb any aggression that may be developing.
3. Your Dog is Stressed for Some Reason
Stress can cause a number of different symptoms in dogs as well as people, and some of these symptoms may include excessive barking or panting. Standing on you may be an odd reaction to stress, but it’s not entirely uncommon either.
There are many reasons why your dog may be stressed. It could be that your dog experiences separation anxiety, and they’re nervous when you leave for work or school. It could also be that they are stressed out because of loud noise such as thunder, fireworks, or even construction.
One of the most common signs of stress may be that your dog starts to exhibit attention-seeking behaviors like your dog standing on you. Other signs of stress include excessive barking, whining, howling, or any other similar behavior.
4. Your Dog is Sick or in Pain
A dog standing on you could be a sign of a bigger problem. Your dog might be in pain or sick, and standing on you is their way of telling you there’s something wrong with them.
In order to confirm that your dog is indeed sick, you should pay attention to how they act. If they’re lethargic, if they can’t walk or eat properly, or if their breathing is irregular and shallow, you need to bring them to the vet right away.
5. Your Dog is Being Protective
Dogs are naturally protective of their owners, and some dogs will stand on you as a way to protect you. This is especially true in small dogs like Chihuahuas or Yorkshire Terriers, as they tend to be more aggressive than the bigger dogs (1).
They may feel the need to go out of their way and protect themselves and you from strangers or other people who get too close. This behavior can often be described as aggressive towards others, but it’s not necessarily negative; rather, your dog is trying their best to protect you from harm.
6. Your Dog is Resource Guarding You
The answer is NOT that your dog wants to stand on you, but much more likely, they are standing on top of you because they feel the need to guard his most valuable resource: YOU.
An overly protective dog will not only stand on you – they might try to position themselves between you and the door or growl when other family members or other dogs move near. When left unchecked, this resource guarding behavior can escalate to a dangerous problem. That’s why it’s essential to keep this behavior in check and address it immediately if you see the signs of aggression.
A combination of positive reinforcement training and desensitization training can be used successfully to curb this unwanted behavior.
7. You Have Inadvertently Encouraged This Behavior
Dogs, just like people, will repeat what makes them rewarded. We often reward our dogs for standing on us by squealing in a high-pitched voice or laughing while we reach down and stroke their head. The message that the dog often perceives is that this behavior makes you feel good, so it must be the right thing to do.
While the dog may not be intentionally trying to make you feel good, they’re using this behavior as a means of getting your attention. Your high-pitched squeal and laugh can be further reinforcement for the dog that this does indeed make you feel happy, which reinforces the behavior even more.
What To Do About Your Dog Standing Over You?
1. Don’t allow your dog to do it.
Dogs are smarter than you think, and they will catch on quickly to what’s allowed behavior and what is not. If your dog puts their paw on you, gently push them off with a firm ‘NO.’ Give them any other command they know, like sit or come or down. When they comply with the command, praise them profusely.
Remember that consistency is the key. Allowing your pet to get away with things once in a while may be easy, but in the end, this only reinforces bad habits, which grow over time into bigger problems for everyone involved – including yourself! For this reason, it’s important that you set clear guidelines between what is acceptable behavior and unacceptable behavior from your dog.
2. Create an environment where your dog will not feel compelled to stand on you.
You can do this by setting up an environment that accommodates your dog’s needs and prevents him from feeling the need to stand over you. For example, if your dog tends to stand over you while you are lying on your bed, then do not allow him access to the bed. You could put a baby gate up in front of the door that leads into your bedroom so that your dog cannot get in.
3. Reinforce your dog’s good behavior as much as possible.
Make sure you give your dog lots of love and attention when they are off of you. This way, your dog will see that it’s not their standing over you that gets them what they need from you; it’s the opposite. So reinforce this behavior as much as possible.
For example, if your dog is lying on their bed when you get home from work instead of standing over you, give them extra attention for this good behavior. Conversely, if your dog is standing over you when you are lying down watching TV, get up and tell them, “No!” Say nothing else to your dog. Ignore any other bad behaviors they exhibit at this point (i.e., barking).
Just get off of the couch/bed and immediately walk out of the room or go to another room in the house. Make sure you do not say anything to your dog until after they have been quiet for about 15 minutes. This reinforces the good behavior (not barking/standing over you) while ignoring any unwanted behaviors (barking, standing on you, etc.)
4. Consult with your vet for any possible issues
Sometimes there is a medical cause for your dog’s bad behavior. If you’ve tried all of the above tactics and you still have problems with your dog standing on you, then it could be time to consult with your vet. Your doctor can give you advice about whether or not this behavior might stem from some kind of medical problem your dog might be experiencing.
At the end of the day, it’s all about how you make your dog feel. If they feel content and happy – whether inside at home with a human family member or outside when they have access to fresh air and stimulation from other dogs – then the chances are higher that they will be more relaxed overall. This means less anxious behaviors like standing on people!