Even though kitties are usually the ones who get spontaneous urges to snuggle forever with their favorite human, dogs can also be regularly found enjoying the comfort of their owner’s lap. Regardless of breed and age, plenty of dogs seek out human touch and company, even to the point of treating us as comfy recliners whenever the opportunity arises.
So as your dog sneakily searches for the best moment to plop down their entire weight on you, naturally, you’re wondering – why does it have to be me, out of all the available resting areas in the house?
Well, the good news is, there are a few reasons for this seemingly random behavior, as well as effective ways to break the habit. The article below will provide you with everything you need to know!
6 Reasons Why Dogs Loves Sitting On You
To Show Love
Certain dog breeds, such as the Golden Retriever and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, are incredibly affectionate and will actively seek human attention throughout the day.
These pups simply love to be loved, so they might choose to snuggle on your lap as a way to deepen the bond with you and show how much they appreciate you.
On the other hand, some dogs just really, really enjoy being in close contact with their family members and get anxious if left alone for too long, so they will do everything in their power to stay close and keep their owners’ attention – such as occupying their lap while looking excessively adorable!
However, if your dog reacts aggressively to your attempts to get up and go about your day, this behavior should be properly addressed. Separation anxiety, or the “Velcro dog syndrome” can be successfully treated with training and vet supervision.
To Leave A Scent Mark
Dogs can begin spreading their scent when they are only three months old, although territorial marking usually begins when puppies reach maturity, which happens between 6 and 12 months of age.
This behavior is completely normal and common, especially in male dogs, and it serves as a crucial mode of communication within the species, best suited for advertising a dog’s presence and claiming territory and resources.
So when your dog hops in your lap and rubs themselves on you, it just might be that they are marking you as their territory and proudly letting anyone else with a muzzle know about it.
To Feel Safe (And Warm)
If you have a small puppy which often seeks shelter in your lap when their circumstances get stressful, they are probably scared and uncomfortable and looking for reassurance and protection, which is not to say that older dogs don’t experience fear and anxiety.
For example, up to 30% of dogs are terrified by the rumblings of thunderstorms and howling winds, mostly because they don’t understand where the noise comes from, and the same can be said about fireworks. Scary and confusing environments can drive your dog to hide in your lap, simply because they trust you more than anyone in the world.
As long as it doesn’t become excessive, this behavior should not be a concern. In addition, some dogs get cold very easily, and your cozy lap is probably the best heating pad they could hope for.
To Assert Dominance
From the perspective of a dog, successfully occupying your lap signals to everyone else that they are in control. In this scenario, your lap provides a position of power, which is really important when new pets are introduced to the family and whenever unfamiliar dogs are around.
Dogs are territorial by nature, so they won’t miss an opportunity to remind everyone who’s in charge. However, this behavior should be discouraged if it becomes extreme, i.e. if the dog is showing open aggression towards anyone who comes by while they’re sitting in your lap. If nothing seems to work, maybe it’s time for professional help.
To Start Playtime
Dogs are fun-loving creatures who sometimes get bored while waiting for us to finish our daily human responsibilities and give them our undivided attention, so they sit on our laps hoping to initiate some quality playtime.
If you’re sitting on the grass outside on a lovely day and your dog wriggles into your lap, they might be looking for a way to lure you into a game of chase. If that’s the case, their behavior will probably also include nuzzling, licking, whining and making playful noises. A dog eager to play is hard to miss – they might even sit and roll on you in a rather enthusiastic way.
Playtime with their owner is really important for dogs, as it combines bonding, exercising and having some good old fun, all of which are legitimate canine needs.
The trick here, though, is to avoid teaching your dog that you are going to get up and follow their lead whenever they approach your lap with playtime on their mind. You can provide a few minutes of playtime, but make sure they don’t get used to the instant gratification because they will start doing it all the time and expect the same result.
To Offer You Comfort
Have you noticed that dogs are amazing at reading human moods? And not just trained therapy dogs – all dogs seem to care a lot about their humans’ well-being and act proactively to lessen their suffering.
They constantly observe their loved ones and can intuitively sense when they’re in need of comforting. If you’re sad or sick, your dog will immediately get the memo and might start looking for ways to be close to you, such as sitting on your lap. Knowing that being close to you makes them feel better, they expect that it makes you feel better too.
This is their way of showing you that they feel your pain and they are here for you in their own unique and unconditional way. And it works. Research has shown that the presence of a beloved pet can help a person control symptoms of anxiety and depression and improve the regulation of emotional triggers.
Another recent study found that dogs are highly responsive to the sound of humans crying and will overcome many barriers to comfort their owners when they’re upset.
How To Prevent Your Dog From Sitting On You?
Even if you don’t really mind your dog sitting on you most of the time, sometimes this behavior can be annoying and downright uncomfortable, and even encourage aggressive tendencies. So is there a way to break the habit?
The simplest way to do that would be to always stand up as soon as your dog tries to sit on you. This is important because typical reactions such as pushing or lifting the dog off of you may end up being interpreted as play behavior, so the dog will keep coming back for more while your frustration grows. So the best thing to do would be to consistently keep standing up until they learn that you won’t allow them sitting on you.
The second route is teaching your dog to approach your lap only with permission. To do this, you can start introducing a verbal command such as the word “Up!” to teach your dog to sit on you when the moment is right. Afterwards, you can reward them with a treat, cuddle session or a toy for their patience.
However, if your pooch is displaying chronic undesirable behaviors such as aggressive reactions, separation anxiety issues or else, it would be wise to consult your vet and perhaps invest some time and funds in behavior training.
In any case, we hope that we helped you get a better grasp of what might be going on inside your dog’s mind, and given you some new reasons to love them to bits!