Dogs are known for being loyal and loving companions. They love to cuddle up with their owners, and many people have wondered why dogs like to sit on people so much. Is it a sign of dominance? A way to show affection?
Or is there something else going on here?
Scientists have been studying this question for years, and they have some answers. Keep reading to find out what science has to say about why dogs like to cuddle!
WHY DOES MY DOG SIT ON ME?
Dogs who sit on your lap might be trying to communicate with their dog parents.
Dog’s behavior is complex, and you may have noticed that your dog loves sitting on your lap.
Pet parents might be used to their own lap dogs, but someone new sees a large dog sitting on its owners lap and wonders why the heck would a dog like to sit on a lap!
Reasons dog’s might like sitting on your lap:
- Dogs love to spend time with their owners
- Dogs love physical contact
- Many dogs find comfort and feel safe with their humans
- Being able to have cuddle time helps dogs to feel safe
- Your dog might have separation anxiety
- Some aggressive behaviors like ‘guarding’ can make a dog feel like they need physical contact at all times
- Lap sitting can be a way for your dog to get attention
- Your dog might be bored
- Your lap is just simply the most comfortable spot
While we might not ever know definitively why dogs like to sit on people, the most likely explanation is that they simply enjoy the companionship and physical contact. So if your dog likes to cuddle up with you, it’s probably because they love you!
DO DOGS SLEEP WITH THEIR FAVORITE PERSON?
Every dog is unique in how they build confidence and find comfort.
However, most of the time dogs will sleep with who the dog likes best and finds most soothing.
Dogs are pack animals and social animals. Not only that, they are social sleepers too. Dogs like to be around not only their dog peers while they sleep, but with their humans as well.
Since dogs, Great Danes included, are highly led by their noses, dogs may love to be in the room with those who smell ‘comforting’ to them. Scent dogs may sense your presence in the room while they sleep just from your smell.
Some dogs may like to sleep on the couch after a long day and that doesn’t mean they love you any less. If your dog is sleeping in other areas of the house you can try to put a blanket or a hoodie with them to leave them with your comforting scent.
WHY DOES MY DOG SIT ON ME AND NOT OTHER PEOPLE?
If your dog sits on your lap but not on other people’s laps that is perfectly normal.
Most owners have a familiar scent and comfortability to their dogs. Sitting on their lap is going to make most sense to their own pet.
Dogs may gravitate to just sit on your lap but they also might be friendly to sitting on other peoples laps too!
IS MY DOG HAVING ANXIETY?
Sometimes if your dog sits on your lap, he might be having separation anxiety.
There is body language you can look out for to determine if your dog is having anxiety.
- If your dog sits on your lap when you are trying to get ready to leave the house this might be a sign of separation anxiety. Your dog may not want you to leave and sitting on your lap is their way of ‘guarding’ you and trying to keep you there with them.
- Your dog is panting, licking its lips, or has its ears back while sitting on your lap
- Your dog demonstrates behavior of tucking its tail or ‘flinches’ when someone tries to pet him
- Your dog is trying to ‘hide’ in your lap
If your dog is having anxiety it is best to consult with a professional trainer or behaviorist to help work through some exercises to help ease.
IS MY DOG TRYING TO PROTECT ME?
Many owners think that their dogs may be trying to ‘protect’ them with behavior like trying to sit on their laps.
Unless your dog is a trained protection dog, any behavior of ‘protection’ in any breed, even Great Danes, is something you will want to take notice of and pay attention to.
When your dog feels nervous, you might confuse their actions for other behaviors that you infer to be strong / confident / protective.
For example, although there are many reasons why your dog might bark at a stranger, one of them is probably not that your pup is trying to stand up for you.
Better yet, your pooch is most likely trying to save himself, an implication of a fear behavior.
If your dog is trying to sit on your lap in any situation that might be causing them to feel uncomfortable, they are probably seeking affirmation from you through this behavior.
WHY DOES MY DOG FOLLOW ME EVERYWHERE I GO?
Your pup loves to be with you! Animals seek guidance from humans behavior.
When your dog is a puppy, start introducing them to spending some time alone.
If you are watching TV on the couch, ask your dog to sit on the floor for a while by itself. Refrain from touching your pooch for a few minutes. It is hard not to shower your pup with pets, but it is helpful for them in the long run.
Larger dogs especially are ‘velcrow’ dogs, and will need help learning how to be alone.
This will help them in their life with learning independence.
ARE BIG DOGS ‘LAP DOGS’?
Comparatively to other animals, large dogs tend to be big lap dogs. Huge dog breeds like Great Danes usually think they are the size of shih tzus or cats.
Smaller dog breeds, likewise, usually think they are the size of a big dog.
Your big dog will try to sit on your lap and get all the pets he can get. When big dogs sit on your lap, they think ‘if it fits, it sits’.
CAN CHILDREN SIT ON DOG’S LAPS?
Small children should never sit or lay on your pet.
Although big dogs are Gentle Giants, they have sensitive joints and bones and should never be ridden like horses.
When in pain, any pet can demonstrate aggressive behavior.
Not only should you train your dog how to interact with your kids, but you should train your kids what it means to interact with your pet in a healthy way.
SHOULD YOU LET YOUR DOG LAY ON TOP OF YOU?
Your dog has many reasons to love to lay on top of you.
Dogs are social animals and love being close to their pack.
When your dog is laying on top of you, he might be feeling:
- Protective of you
- Submissive to you
- A need for physical affection
- Comforted in the relationship
- Nervous and in need of affirmation
All of these reasons are normal and healthy for your pup and you can be there through each feeling.
If you are able to tolerate the wrestling match of getting them off of you- it is perfectly safe for your dog to lay on top of you!
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