Why Does My Dog Sit on Me? 10 Surprising Reasons
Your dog communicates to you through his behaviours. Sitting on you might simply mean that: he wants attention; he trusts you; he’s spreading his scent; showing love or seeking warmth. It is also a surprising sign that your wise Fur Soul may be trying to heal you or himself.
You and your dog share an incredible bond that connects you across mind, body and spirit. Through his body language, your dog communicates his needs and feelings to you. Likewise, he perceives your needs and many of his behaviours may actually be for your benefit.
Yes, his behaviours can be simple and straightforward. When your dog sits on you, it could simply mean he wants attention or is cold. However, your dog may also be trying to tell you some pretty surprising things, or even help you through your own life’s journey. Let’s listen deeply to his innate wisdom.
Here are ten surprising reasons your dog sits on you, and what to do about it.
#1. He Trusts You
If your dog sits on you, he could be telling you that he trusts you and believes that you will protect him. Dogs are pack animals and, when in their pack, dogs prefer to face outward to watch for threats. They will keep their own backs toward one another when they trust one another. So, if your dog sits on you especially when facing away, he could be saying, “I trust you – you’ve got my back”.
What can you do if your dog shows that he trusts you?
Give him some extra love. Tell him you trust him too. When he’s laying on the floor, take a moment to place your back against him and simply breathe together, while thanking him for trusting you. He will understand your intentional communication.
#2. He Wants Attention
Your dog may have learned that if he’s within petting distance, he’ll probably get some extra attention. So by sitting on your lap, he figures he’ll maximize those loving touches. If sitting on you also involves some kissing, nuzzling or playful pawing, your dog might be telling you he wants more than some pats and rubs, or that there are different reasons for this behaviour.
If the pawing or kissing becomes a bit over the top, he may be asking you to meet unmet needs such as food, companionship, stimulation or exercise. In some cases, it can be a sign that he is not feeling well and is trying to tell you about an upset stomach, pain or other uncomfortable feeling. One of our joyful Golden Retrievers used to run up to me, place his head on my lap and belch! Although it seemed funny at first, he was alerting us to dietary changes that he needed.
What you can do if your dog wants attention?
If you’re ok with giving extra love on demand, go ahead and indulge! But first, check that his basic needs are met (food, water, stimulation, walks) and ensure he’s not in discomfort or has any digestive problems. If that all checks out and he still climbs on you a little too much, use a gentle “no” and planned ignoring until he settles. Then reward the calm behaviour.
#3. Spreading his Scent
Dogs have areas on their bodies where their scent is concentrated – like saliva, paws, and secretions near their butt and tail. By sitting on you, your number one fur child might be letting others know that you belong to him. We often see this in families where one person takes on a leadership role in the home – including with the family dog. Your dog may see himself as a “first or second in charge” which means he is telling everyone else in the family that they are in his pack.
Have you ever petted another dog while you’ve been out, and then come home to the “Rover Sniff-Over”? In addition to getting his nose out of joint due to your infidelity, he may choose to cover you with his scent just a little more by climbing into your lap and perhaps adding some energetic licks, paw holding or rubs.
What can you do if your dog is spreading his scent on you?
Determine whether you are ok with his declaration that you belong to him! Remember, we also spread our scent onto him every time we pet or rub his belly, and give him a kiss. So, unless his possessiveness turns into growling or threatening others around you, you might be quite comfortable with this mutual love fest! If your dog becomes possessive, urinates on you or growls at others that come near you, consult a canine behaviourist or your vet.
What if your dog drags his butt over you?
We don’t typically see butt scooting with the average dog that climbs on your lap, but it’s worth mentioning, as it could be a sign of a health condition like impacted anal glands. If your dog starts scooting his butt on top of you to release that smelly anal gland discharge, his health needs to be addressed. Ensure he has a high quality, whole foods diet with enough fibre and fresh water. Dogs with sufficient fibre and a fresh diet of meat, vegetables and vitamins and minerals have the best chance of keeping those anal glands healthy (and off you and your floors). In some cases, anal glands require treatment by a holistic pet care specialist or holistic vet.
When your dog scoots, understand that it’s a natural instinct. If possible, direct him outdoors or onto an area that can be easily cleaned.
How to keep your dog smelling great
#4. Asserting Dominance
In some cases, when your dog sits on you, he may enjoy feeling in control by being up higher than you. Most of the time though, this isn’t the way most dogs show their superiority or dominance. So, unless your poodle or chihuahua is wrestling you to the ground and standing over you, it’s likely this isn’t the reason he is sitting on you. If you think your top dog has signs of dominance like growling, intense staring, herding, mounting or aggression, engage a professional canine behaviourist.
What can you do if your dog is asserting dominance?
Unless his dominance is causing issues with obedience or is in anyway threatening to you or others, there isn’t a need to do anything other than continuing with basic obedience training. Some dogs in their teenage years may need more consistent training in basic obedience to ensure they know their place in the pack. If you need help with an overly dominant dog, consult a canine behaviourist, professional dog trainer or your vet.
#5. Looking for a Warm Spot
Older dogs, tea cup breeds, ones with very little fur or health conditions like arthritis or hypothyroidism may be using you as a heating blanket. Your lap is one of the warmest places on your body and your Fur Soul knows it. If your dog has low amounts of fat or muscle (due to aging or illness), shakes, seeks warm locations or sleeps in a tightly curled up position, he may be sitting on you for a little extra warmth and comfort.
What can you do if your dog sits on you because he’s cold?
Rule out any health conditions that might cause your dog to seek warmth such as arthritis, thyroid disease, cancer or hip dysplasia. Check for thinning or reddened skin around bony prominences (elbows, hips, shoulders). This could be a sign that he doesn’t have enough cushion in these areas, and your soft lap may be the most comfortable spot he knows. In addition to being prone to feeling chilled, bony areas can lead to pressure sores and skin infections. Review his diet and ensure he has enough healthy fats and fresh meat protein to keep his skin and weight in optimal condition.
Once your dog’s health and diet concerns are addressed, consider getting him a warm cosy orthopaedic dog bed, and put it in a sunny spot. Before laundering your cosy sweatshirt, lay it in his favourite spot for extra warmth and the comfort of your scent.
#6. Showing You How Much He Loves You
When puppies are little, they curl up with their mother and siblings in a “puppy pile” to bond and experience love, security and comfort. As they become more mobile, they seek physical contact by climbing on each other and often falling asleep on top of one another. Since your dog views you as a pack member, he could be showing you the ultimate sign of affection and love by creating a puppy pile with his Fur Parent.
What can I do if my dog is showing love by sitting on me?
If the puppy piles are getting to be too much, gently guide him to move off you and continue to show him love and attention while he gets comfortable by your side or on his favourite blanket. Make time during the day to exchange love by playing and cuddling.
If you meditate, try this
If you practice meditation, sit together with your dog, one hand over your heart, and the other over his heart. Take a few deep breaths and visualize a soft pink light moving between your heart centres. Tell your dog that he can feel this loving connection at any time, without sitting on you. The next time your dog attempts to sit on you, return to deep breaths and visualize extending that loving pink light toward him, while keeping your distance.
Healing crystals like rose quartz emit loving energy that can soothe some dogs who come across as a bit “needy” for loving. Although we should never withdraw our love, a Healing Crystal Pet Charm can be a a beautiful source of loving energy when you’re not readily available.
#7. Breed Behaviour
There are reasons some tiny dogs are called “lap dogs”. Dog breeds like Chihuahuas, Shih Tzus, Bichon Frises, Havenese and Maltese seem to inherently know that sitting on you provides safety, comfort, warmth and perhaps a reminder that even though they are small, they are the boss.
At the other end of the size scale, some giant breeds also think they are lap dogs! Giant breeds like English Mastiffs or Great Danes are known to joyfully make their presence known by sitting or laying on top of their favourite people. Large dogs are still social animals, although their giant size can preclude them from most other opportunities to join the puppy pile.
What can I do if my giant dog is sitting on me?
Many fur parents simply laugh and enjoy the bonding. If it gets too much though, make extra efforts to sit on the floor with your large dog – at his level. Some larger dogs like to be part of a modified puppy pile – where you place your feet or head on top of them. If you’re good with the super sized loving, make sure your chair can handle the weight, and enjoy the bonding.
#8. Anxiety and Insecurity
You can’t go anywhere if your dog is sitting on you, right? He knows that and, if he’s a bit insecure or has separation anxiety when you leave the house, you may find your dog posting guard on top of you. Do you notice that he sits on you around meal times? You’d better not forget to feed him, because he’s watching your every move! Is he laying on your chest so he can feel your breath? It could be his way of soothing his anxiety by slowing his own breath and heart rate.
What can I do if my dog sits on me because he’s anxious?
Consult a holistic pet specialist or holistic vet to identify the reasons for your dog’s anxiety. You can often relieve anxiety through diet, herbs, Reiki, behavioural interventions and healing crystal pet charms. As you figure out the underlying reasons and treat your anxious dog, make a special effort to give him positive reinforcement for the times that he is calm and secure.
One of our most popular remedies for anxiety is this home-made Lavender and Chamomile Dog Treat recipe, developed by our canine herbalist at Healing Fur Souls. They’re grain-free , backed by science and make excellent treats for bedtime or before stressful situations, like thunderstorms, fireworks or trips to the vet. Another option is to use safe and effective cannabidiol (CBD) on its own or in a delicious CBD dog cookie recipe you can make at home.
Canadian residents can click here to order CBD oil for dogs.
#9. He is Trying to Heal Himself
Healing Fur Souls goes deeper into natural dog care than most; we care for your dog’s whole body, mind and spirit. We embrace the innate wisdom and energies of your dog – and the deep bond you have together. Living beings are drawn together (or apart) partially through their energetic connections. Dogs will naturally seek out people that heal them or allow them to heal those they love.
The reason your dog is sitting on you may not be obvious, but be assured, there IS a reason.
We notice that dogs frequently position their energy points (or chakras) to align with ours for a variety of reasons. What does it mean if your dog lays on you, aligning his heart to yours? Does he centre his tail end into the middle of your lap? Line up his throat with yours as he places his head on your shoulder? These positions are not always purely for physical comfort, they could be your dog’s way of communicating with his energies. It’s a good thing. There may not be an obvious reason for this type of behaviour, but there IS a reason. Learn more about your dog’s chakras here.
What can I do if I want to learn about my dog’s energetic/chakra health?
#10. He is Trying to Help You Heal
The spiritual connection between dogs and people is profound and we believe they are here to teach us important lessons about life, love and health. Dogs detect the smallest changes in our emotions, thoughts, safety and physical condition – most of us just need to listen a bit more carefully.
Your dog may be sitting on you to absorb, transmute or help heal unhelpful emotions, pain or distress. At Healing Fur Souls, we’ve seen countless examples where dogs absorb the illnesses of their fur parents or other animals around them. Their selfless generosity and healing nature is what makes these Fur Souls sponges for the energies around them.
What can I do if I think my dog is responding to my emotional, physical or spiritual needs?
If your dog climbs up to sit on you, do a quick body scan of yourself. Are you anxious? In pain? Thinking about something unsettling? Although your dog may be sitting on you for any of the reasons above, it may also be that he is attempting to alert you to changes in your own body, mind or spirit – and soothe you with his love. Dogs can smell stress hormones, and sense the most subtle energy changes.
Take a slow, deep cleansing breath and blow it out. Notice any positive changes in your body, mind and spirit. Thank your Fur Soul for alerting you. Consider a mutual Reiki session for you and your dog, a yoga session or a simple meditation.
Make sure your dog has the best chance for health by giving him a clean, whole foods diet, and that his space is safe and free from stress, electrical appliances, artificial fragrances or chemicals.
Take good care of yourself. Eat well, rest, share your thoughts with a holistic counsellor and release that which no longer serves your highest good.
To celebrate the furever bond you have with your Fur Soul, consider treating yourself and your dog to a virtual Reiki session together. You may be able to find out the deeper spiritual reasons your dog has chosen you as his Fur Parent.
Be kind to every living being. Respect the earth we share.
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- consult a canine behaviourist or your vet.
- Ensure he has a high quality, whole foods diet with enough fibre and fresh water.
- In some cases, anal glands require treatment by a holistic pet care specialist or holistic vet.
- bathe him with a dog-safe shampoo that is gentle and has the right pH balance for his fur and skin.
- If you need help with an overly dominant dog, consult a canine behaviourist or your vet.
- Rule out any health conditions that might cause your dog to seek warmth such as arthritis, thyroid disease, cancer or hip dysplasia.
- a Healing Crystal Pet Charm can be a a beautiful source of loving energy when you’re not readily available.
- You can often relieve anxiety through diet, herbs, Reiki, behavioural interventions and healing crystal pet charms.
- One of our most popular remedies for anxiety is this home-made Lavender and Chamomile Dog Treat recipe,
- If you’d like to find out more about your dog’s energetic health and heal imbalanced chakras, book a virtual Reiki session with Healing Fur Souls. Learn more about Reiki for dogs here.
- Consider a mutual Reiki session for you and your dog, a yoga session or a simple meditation.