We're an affiliate
We hope you love the products we recommend! Just so you know, we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page at no additional cost to you. Thank you if you use our links, we really appreciate it!
You’re seated on the couch relaxing after a long day and suddenly, your furry friend hops in and sits on your lap.
One thing you can be sure of is that your dog loves you, and that’s why they can freely sleep on you or by your side.
But are there specific reasons that should worry you? Keep reading this post to discover the reasons behind this clingy behavior in dogs.
12 Reasons Why Your Dog May Lay on You
1. They’re seeking warmth and comfort
One of the major reasons why your dog may lay on you is that they’re drawn to your body’s warmth in search of a cozy place to nap.
Your furry friend needs this extra warmth and cuddles during the late evenings or early mornings when the temperatures are much cooler.
The normal body temperature is slightly higher in dogs than in humans. This is why they need that extra warmth from your body, especially during colder seasons.
Make sure to furnish your pup’s sleeping space with a cozy blanket and comfortable bedding to provide enough heat to keep them warm.
2. To seek your attention
Dogs are social animals and they thrive when given lots of attention from their human caregivers.
If your furry friend is left alone in the house for long hours during the day, they will get bored and feel lonely.
Once you arrive home, your pup will most likely come closer to you and take a nap by your side. This is a sure sign that they missed you and seeking your attention.
Do not ignore your dog in this situation. Set aside a few minutes to pet and cuddle them to show your attention and love.
3. It’s a chance bonding
Dogs feel safe when lying on or close to their owners. It provides a perfect chance for bonding and strengthening the relationship.
In general, your lovely pup will lay on you to express their unbounded love and deepen their emotional connections with you.
4. It’s a natural behavior in dogs
Right from their puppyhood stage, your dog snuggled and slept with their littermates in a pile beside their nursing mother.
As they grow older, the adult dog gets separated from its siblings and their mother, making you the new pack leader.
It, therefore, becomes easy for the dog to lay on you while sleeping because it’s a behavior learned since puppyhood.
By being close to you and curling on your body, your furry friend is showing signs of protection, love, and care learned during nursing.
5. Separation anxiety
Dogs with separation anxiety would not want to part company from their owners even for a second.
They’ll want to be by your side and the best way to achieve this is by laying on you.
You can know if your dog is suffering separation anxiety if they follow you everywhere and bark excessively when leaving the house.
Other destructive behaviors include chewing on items, excessive self-grooming, and showing signs of aggression.
Some dogs would lay on their human caregivers to claim ownership over them. This is especially witnessed in households with multiple pets, fighting for their owner’s attention.
This behavior is known as resource-guarding where the offended dog struggles to protect ‘their possessions’ from other pets or household members.
The other common signs of dogs with resource-guarding tendencies are seen in how they react negatively to people/pets approaching their valuable resources like food or toys.
Resource guarding can sometimes be confused as a harmless behavior in dogs, but it may cause more danger than good.
This behavior predisposes dogs to be in a constant state of anxiety, and this affects their overall physical and mental health.
Furthermore, overly possessive dogs are known to attack or bite people who come close to their properties.
7. It’s a form of communication
When your furry friend comes by your side to cuddle and lie at specific times during the day, it may be a sign of communication.
Your furry friend is probably alerting you that it’s mealtime or it’s time to lace up and go out for a walk.
A dog with an urgent message to you will most likely get restless and jumpy by your side, instead of cuddling or sleeping.
8. To seek relief when unwell
Your dog may hop on you when stressed, anxious, or experiencing pain from health problems.
Dogs can alleviate emotional pain and negative feelings by laying on you because you are their source of comfort.
They’re seeking reassurance of your love and looking for physical contact to alleviate discomfort and pain.
Some dogs are protective of their owners by nature more than others. When they perceive a threat in your home, they will quickly jump to defend you.
Potential threats could be anything ranging from fireworks, car engine noise, or unfamiliar movements in your neighborhood.
Similarly, your four-legged companion may hop on you in search of protection from a perceived threat.
This could be anything that makes them stressed like barking dogs across the neighborhood, thunderstorms, or loud noises in the neighborhood.
Such threats may frighten your pup and they will quickly lay on you with tucked tails, body trembles, and sometimes whining due to anxiety.
10. You taught the behavior
In some cases, pet parents have inadvertently reinforced certain behaviors in their pups even without realizing it.
When your dog started laying on you, you probably gave them a soft belly rub and gentle strokes on the back.
In many cases, this form of petting comes naturally to pet parents in such situations.
Your furry friend took this as a reward and they continued staying by your side to cuddle and snuggle before sleeping, and now it’s a learned behavior.
11. You’re more comfortable than their bed
Your dog is avoiding their bed because it is probably not comfortable for them. Dogs, especially as they advance in age, need a fully furnished sleeping area for their comfort and security.
Without this, your furry friend will prefer lying on you to get the comfort and warmth missing in their bed.
12. It’s an invitation to groom them
Matted fur and debris on the dog’s coat are uncomfortable and painful sometimes.
Your canine friend might hop on you and rub their body against you as an inviting sign to brush their coat or wipe down the dirt.
Individual Factors Affecting Dog Behavior
We have highlighted the general reasons for your dog’s behavior to lay on you. But every dog is an individual.
Some dogs may develop this behavior based on individual factors that shape their daily habits. The following are some of the factors to keep in mind:
1. Early socialization and bonding
Dogs who have been exposed to bonding and socialization from an early age are more inclined to lay on their owners than others.
Training your puppy on interaction, physical, and emotional connections with members of your household will shape them in forming social habits.
2. Past trauma
Dogs who have had a negative history of neglect, trauma, and abuse may seek reassurance and love from their adopted caregivers.
By hopping on their owners to snuggle and sleep, they’re getting a sense of security which helps to reduce the pain from the traumatic activities.
3. Owners’ behavior
Your response when Fido lays on you plays an important role in encouraging or discouraging the behavior.
If you respond positively by rewarding your pup then the behavior is more likely to be reinforced and embedded in the dog’s character.
On the other hand, if you discourage the behavior by redirecting your dog, they will certainly respond and seek alternative places to snuggle up.
This should be a reminder that the little things you do go a long way to shaping your dog in forming long-lasting habits.
4. Breed characteristics
Small dog breeds such as Chihuahua, are more likely to snuggle and sleep by your side for protection.
Large dog breeds are more independent. In many cases, they prefer sleeping alone or they can hop on you to protect you from perceived danger.
Signs Of Unhealthy Attachment or Behavioral Issues in Dogs
There’s nothing wrong when dogs curl and snuggle on you for the positive reasons highlighted above. We’ve seen that it’s a natural behavior instilled into dogs right from their puppyhood phase.
But when does this attachment become unhealthy? The following are some of the signs that indicate negative behavior when your dog lays on you:
1. Separation anxiety
Dogs who develop a strong physical and emotional attachment to their owners may escalate it into excessive dependence.
This may lead to separation anxiety where the dog becomes extremely distressed when separated from their owner.
Such dogs may develop clingy behavior and may constantly seek your audience to alleviate the fear of loneliness.
Dogs with separation anxiety may also develop destructive behaviors when left alone such as excessive barking, chewing on furniture, digging, and scratching.
Dogs who stay very close to their owners may develop resource-guarding characters to protect their valuables, including you.
Dogs with these tendencies may develop aggressive behavior such as barking, growling, biting, and attacking when another pet intrudes on their territory.
Such pets are mostly reluctant to share anything with other pets or household members.
They may completely block them from accessing their accessories, or cling to their human caregivers to claim possession.
3. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) occurs when the dog performs normal behavior, such as the desire for closeness, repeatedly until it becomes a concern.
You can know if your dog is excessively following you if they forego some of their activities just to stay by your side.
How Do I Encourage My Dog to Lay Elsewhere?
If you feel like your furry friend is clinging to you for too long, here are some tips to correct the behavior:
1. Teach your dog the ‘get off’ command
This will help you redirect your dog when they jump on you to snuggle and get cozy. You can politely request your pup to ‘get off’ your couch and redirect them to their comfy bed.
2. Provide an alternative comfortable spot
Invest in a high-quality dog bed with comfy bedding and support. Go for the beds specifically meant for your dog’s breed and furnish it with the necessary bedding.
Make the bed as inviting as possible for your dog. Ideally, it should offer more comfort and security to the dog than your bed.
Secure the bed in a sizeable crate or playpen to cut out a secured spot if your dog prefers privacy. This will also help in crate training when teaching your dog housebreaking rules.
3. Reward good behavior
Once your dog climbs down and goes to their bed, you can verbally praise and reward them with a tasty treat for the positive behavior.
Reinforcing positive behavior with rewards will help the dog associate their actions with positive influence. This will help to shape their seeping behavior.
Don’t punish or scold your dog for lying on you. This will strain the relationship and make everything worse.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. Why does my dog lay on top of me when I lay down?
Generally speaking, dogs laying on you is a refreshing gesture of showing love and affection. Your furry friend is also seeking reassurance of your love and care for them.
2. Why do dogs press against you when they sleep?
This is often a desire for belly rubs and petting. These gentle strokes soothe the dogs and make them feel loved and secure.
3. Why does my dog sit on me when I’m lying down?
Dogs sitting on their owners while lying down may be a way of asserting ownership or resource-guarding.
Some dogs do this to spread their scents via the anal glands for scent marking, to alert other dogs of their ownership of you.
4. Why is my dog lying on me all of a sudden?
Your dog may suddenly jump and lay over you for safety against perceived danger. Dogs have a much more sensitive hearing ability than humans.
Your dog may have heard unusual sounds that made them uncomfortable and jumped on you for safety or to protect you.
Why does my dog lay on me? Many reasons may prompt your furry friend to hop on you and snuggle. In most cases, your dog is seeking a comfy and warm place to rest.
Physical and emotional attachments between dogs and their owners are crucial in developing strong bonds.
While it is normal for dogs to lay on their owners, you need to be careful not to encourage unwanted behavior such as dominance and assertiveness.
Providing your dog with a fully furnished place to sleep is the first step in redirecting them to appropriate sleeping positions.
Laura is the founder of Furs'n'Paws. She is a also a pet writer and expert with more than 20 years of experience of working with dogs and cats. She developed a very strong love for animals at a young age. Her passion led her to establish a thriving pet sitting and dog walking business in Dubai. As an expert in pet training, behavior, and nutrition, Laura is committed to helping pet owners and pet lovers by offering high-quality information on a wide range of topics.