Become A Smarter Dog Owner

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Become A Smarter
Dog Owner

Join other dog owners and get a free copy of our "Happy Dog Handbook - The Essential Guide For Dog Owners" and a daily email with carefully compiled tips, facts, and memes.

Why Does My Dog Lay On Me?

Cuddling with your beloved dog can be one of the highlights of your day – both for dog lovers and pet owners.

However, being a dog owner, you may have noticed your dog lying across or on top of you while you sit on the couch or sleep.

That can be annoying sometimes.

In this article, we answer the question, “Why does my dog lay on me?” and share how you can overcome this behavior if you wish.

Read on!

What Does It Mean For A Dog To Lay On You?

why does my dog lay on me

Dogs are brilliant and social animals.

They tend to sleep on you because of many reasons.

A dog lying on you could demonstrate one of the following:

The Dogs Instinct

One of the primary reasons your dog may lay on you are instinctual causes.

These factors are personality traits that dogs inherited from wolves and wild canines thousands of years ago.

Your dog’s instincts may also be affected by the development of dog breeds.

Tiny puppies, such as dachshunds, have territorial instincts and will lay on their owners to keep their territory, or human, all to themselves.

Animal Instinct

Dogs always lay on top because of the protective instinct of animals.

Laying on top of each is a way of communicating affection, companionship, and security.

Safety And Comfort

Dogs enjoy lying on us for comfort and security.

They will crawl all over you in bed, on the couch, or even in the car.

Not only having a dog laying on you in the car can be very dangerous, you will also have dog hairs in your car.

That can be annoying too.

Comfort and safety induce relaxation, which causes the brain to release hormones.

When the dog detects your sadness, he will come to you for comfort, often laying across you to show that he is there for you.

Being Anxious

Pet dogs usually feel anxious or fearful after a traumatic event or fear of other dogs.

In this case, an anxious dog may seek comfort from you.

Dogs will do this by laying on top of you and releasing calming hormones that make them feel safe.

Examples of when they might feel anxious or scared include:

  1.  Fireworks

  2.  Thunderstorms

  3.  Rain

  4.  Loud Music

  5.  Blender or grinder

  6.  Shouting

Those reasons why your dog lay on you because he is scared can be different from dog to dog.

If you suggest he does it because of fear, try to find his trigger point and then, so eliminate it.

Search Of Warmth

happy dog face

Body temperature regulation is more difficult for dogs than humans do.

They have thick coats and small noses, so they don’t do well in body heat.

That is especially true when it’s hot or cold outside in summer and winter.

They can regulate their body temperature by lying on top of you.

Loneliness & Isolation

If a dog is left alone for an extended period and the pet parent returns home, the dog may lay on them to greet them and be social.

Try to not leave your dog for too long alone at home.

Lack Of Exercise

A dog who does not have time for enough exercise and playtime may also lay on its owner.

A lack of exercise and play can make a dog antsy, and they may not know how to channel this energy.

That is usually the case when a dog jumps around a lot.

Sign Of Respect

Many dogs want to pay you respect by laying on top of their owner.

Some dogs will display this sign by laying their head down while facing their owner, tail up high.

It Lowers Their Blood Pressure

Touch stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which controls rest and digestion.

It lowers blood pressure, heart rate, and stress hormone levels.

A Symbol Of Respect And Initiation

Your dog may want to pay you respect by lying on top of you.

Some dogs will display this sign by laying their head down while facing their owner, tail up high.

Canines That Spot Illness

If your dog smells that you are sick he may attempt to comfort you by lying on top of you.

Cancer, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, and vital organs exposed due to unavoided reasons are examples of illnesses.

Your Dog Is Being Affectionate

dog cuddling with man

Dogs are pack animals that require attention to grow and flourish.

To feel safe, they seek attention and affection.

It’s The Same As Face-To-Face And Eye Contact

Interactions such as eye contact and face-to-face produce pleasurable feelings in both owners and their dogs.

The same is true when your dog sleeps on you.

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, several studies have shown that positive interactions between dogs and humans increase oxytocin, a hormone associated with positive emotions.

Furthermore, scientific findings link oxytocin to our ability to form and strengthen social bonds.

You Are Rewarding The Behavior

When you pay attention to your dog by scratching its ears, making eye contact, petting it, or talking to it, you encourage it to continue doing whatever it is.

If you like it when your pup lays on top of you, reward it with interaction.

It’s a way of validating the contact and approving them.

Attention Seeking Behaviors

What if you already lavish attention on your dog and still notice it engaging in attention-seeking behaviors?

Many dogs, not all dogs, can become overly needy, which can be difficult because dog parents also require some alone time.

You may be juggling multiple responsibilities simultaneously, making it challenging to devote as much time to your pet, or your dog may interfere with your daily activities around the house.

On some occasions, all you want to do is lay down without a dog on top of you.

How To Determine The TRUE Reason It Is

dog and woman cuddling

You can ask yourself a few questions to determine what can cause a dog always lay on you.

Check Your Mood

  • What’s your mood with canine companions?

  • Are you feeling anxious or have an anxiety disorder?

  • Are you sick or have issues with vital organs?

Does Something Happen Before?

  • Did you get the dog home?

  • Have you been gone a long time?

  • Was there a strange sound?

  • Were you petting another animal? What happened right before?

What Time Of The Day Is It?

  • Is it cold?

  • Do you usually lay with them at this time?

  • Is it feeding time?

  • Is the water bowl empty?

  • Is it potty time?

What Are You Doing That Encourages It?

  • Are you petting him?

  • Are you feeding him?

  • Are you playing with him?

  • Are you talking to him?

Why Is It Good When Your Dog Lays On You?

white dog waiting on human legs

Dogs get a lot of their behavior and protective instinct from wolves.

Even if you go on vacation with your dog, it will continue to guard and protect the house that isn’t your home because, in its opinion, you need to be protected.

Laying on top of you is your dog’s way of assuring you that it has your back and will go to any length to protect you, even if there is no immediate threat or danger.

Many dog owners use protective instincts to protect themselves, their families, and their property.

Your dog can provide the necessary warning, giving you valuable time to defend yourself.

As an inherently loyal dog, your animal will risk its safety to protect you and the rest of the family.

Why Is It Bad When Dogs Lay On Their Dog Parents?

woman cuddling with two dogs

Can these instincts for protection become harmful or undesirable?

Yes, as with everything in excess.

Aggressive dogs can be challenging to manage for their owners.

They may become overly aggressive even when the situation does not call for it.

If your dog starts snarling all the time, is threatening, and bites strangers, it won’t be easy to entertain visitors and go for walks around the neighborhood.

When dogs’ protective instincts endanger people and animals unnecessarily, it becomes a problem to address.

The most effective way to deal with an aggressive dog is to engage in behavior modification training with the assistance of a qualified dog trainer.

Discourage threatening behavior and use praise, toys, and treats for positive reinforcement.

If your dog is older, it is more difficult to retrain them, so behavior modification should begin as soon as possible

How To Keep Your Dog From Laying On You

dog laying on back

There are different ways to encourage your dog to lays somewhere else if you have a dog that always lays on top of you and you don’t like it.

The following can be tactics and rewards if your dog is trained:

  • Saying “no” or “no thank you” softly.

  • Point to the ground until they hop away.

  • Smaller dogs can be relocated by placing them elsewhere.

  • Giving them a gift

  • Requesting that your dogs sleep somewhere else with food

  • If you want your pooch to sit next to you instead of on top of you, tell him kindly to “get off” or “go nearby.”

Pet crate training to go to a specific location, such as a mat, bed, or crate (an excellent behavior to teach regardless of whether they are laying on you or not).

Once your dog consistently obeys your command, you can direct them to this location when they are laying on top of you against your wishes.

Keep in mind that dogs are similar to children.

They are emotional and sensitive creatures who crave the love and attention of those around them.

Treating them with kindness and empathy will always yield the best behavioral results.

Getting Your Dog To Lay Somewhere Else

dog and man cuddling

If you dislike physical touch, cuddling, or having your dog lay on you, it is acceptable to tell them to lay somewhere else as long as you do so respectfully.

Because there is usually nothing wrong with having your dog lay on you, there is no need to punish or command your dog aggressively if they choose to lay on their human caregivers.

However, some situations would be inappropriate, have poor behavior, or even harmful for your dog to lay on you.

These are some examples:

  • If your dog is anxious and only feels comfortable when laying on you

  • If your dog is aggressive and shows extreme dominance while attempting to lay on you

  • If your dogs shows signs of other illness

  • If you are constantly wondering why your dog is doing it

If you see any of the symptoms mentioned above when your dog tries to lay on you, consult your veterinarian or a behavior specialist as soon as possible because their professional assistance can help you and your dog deal with this problem.

Why Do Dogs Lay On Other Dogs?

Dogs typically tend to lay on other dogs for the same reasons they would lay on humans.

The following can be the reasons:

  • Their instincts drive them to seek out physical affection and attention.

  • They seek warmth in the cold weather and are comforting another dog.

  • They are anxious and are looking for a safe place or a dog friend to keep them safe. 

  • They are showing signs of respect and comfort.

  • It may indicate that they are attempting to play. 

Dogs enjoy throwing their weight around with each other and playing tackle, much like some human children.

Assert dominance can be one reason if dogs lay on each other.

Suppose a large herding dog, such as a sheepdog, retriever, or even a guard dog, even the German shepherd, decides to assert dominance over another dog.

In that case, they may attempt to mount them by climbing or physically restraining and lowering them by laying them on top.

Why Does My Dog Lay On Top Of Me In Bed?

dog under blanket

If you notice your dog has started laying on top of you and are wondering why the most common reason is that your dog is seeking attention.

Check to ensure your dog isn’t suffering from a medical condition or showing signs of anxiety, and then enjoy the cuddle!

One of the best parts about having a dog snuggles up with them and spending a relaxing evening on the couch together.

If you have more than one dog at home, you may have already had an experience where one of your dogs wanted to protect you from the other dogs or pets in the house.

If your dog notices another dog approaching you, he may begin barking and growling at that dog out of jealousy.

He may even throw a tantrum to get your attention because he is jealous that you are caring for your other dogs.

Three Arguments That Aren’t Reasons Why Your Dogs Behavior

The following three arguments are not the reasons why your dog is sleeping on top of you.

To Establish Dominance

That may not be why you think your dog is doing it to establish dominance.

To Divert Your Attention From Something, They Mishandled

Diverting your attention from someone else can not be the reason for the dog laying on top of you; it may be because of your dog’s behavior.

To Enrage Rivals

Enrage rivals is one of the behavior, not the reason for dog lays on top of you.

woman playing with two dogs

Dogs enjoy laying on their owners in a variety of ways and for a variety of reasons.

However, there is no harm in allowing a dog to lay by his pack leader as long as both parties are comfortable and happy in the cuddles.

It can make you both feel safe, protected, and loved.

The trick is to focus less on “why your dog sleeps or lays on you” and more on convincing your dog that sleeping in their spot is the best way to get your love and attention.

Furthermore, remember that your dog is not attempting to be rude or aggressive when they lay on you.

They are most likely to seek your attention or affection as a family member.

If you change your perspective on the behavior, you may find it easier to change your dog’s behavior for the better.

Before You Go…

Now you know the answer to the question, “Why does my dog lay on me?”.

If you want to learn more, read the following articles too!

Or watch this video:

Mena Emad, DVM
Mena has a Bachelor’s degree in veterinary medicine. His expertise, passion for animal welfare, extensive knowledge, and experience in the field of veterinary medicine make him an excellent resource for our readers.

Become A Smarter Dog Owner​

Join other dog owners and get a free copy of our “Happy Dog Handbook – The Essential Guide For Dog Owners” and a daily email with carefully compiled tips, facts, and memes.

Become A Smarter Dog Owner

Join other dog owners and get a free copy of our “Happy Dog Handbook – The Essential Guide For Dog Owners” and a daily email with carefully compiled tips, facts, and memes.