Why Does My Dog Lay On Top Of Me?
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By kropek2021. • Updated June 28, 2021

Dogs are key members of a family; without them, most families wouldn’t be complete. Owners love playing with their pups, taking them for walks, and spending quality time. One of the most rewarding moments of owning a dog is cuddling up with them after a long day.

Some dogs may spend more time laying on their owners than others, though this often causes the question ‘Is my dog laying on me too much?’ or ‘Why are they doing this?’ If this sounds familiar to you, don’t worry – we’ve researched why dogs lay on you and what you can do to stop this if it has become a problem behavior. 

Why Does My Dog Sleep On Me?

Some dog owners let their dogs sleep in bed with them, and some wake up to find the dog in their bed without an invitation. If you’re waking up to a furry friend who isn’t wanted in the bedroom, you may want to put a stop to this behavior. 

Often dogs sleep on top of you because you’re comfortable or to show their affection. Dogs are drawn to your body heat as this is comforting to them, and they want to be warmed up. This is cute, but you need to be aware that this could also be due to separation anxiety. 


Why Is My Dog Always Laying On Me?

If you find that your dog is constantly taking a rest on top of you, it could be due to a couple of different reasons. They could feel protective of you; their innate instinct kicks in when they think there is a threat. Laying on you is to protect you from any harm. If there is no threat around, your dog may be lying on you because you have reinforced the behavior. When they’re rewarded with cuddles and love, a dog will repeat the behavior. 

What Does It Mean?

Here are some of the most common reasons that your dog will lay on top of you while you’re sitting down or sleeping. If you are trying to stop your dog from lying on you, try to identify which of these behaviors your dog is showing.

Comfort

Comfort is important to everyone – not just dogs. Being warm and relaxed is one of the best feelings in the world; this could be a key reason that your pup likes to cuddle up a little too often. 

Dogs are more likely to lay on you for comfort if you have a strong bond and spend a lot of time together. They like to be physically close with their owner to show their love. This is often seen in smaller dog breeds with less hair since your body heat makes a nice pillow for them to cozy upon. Cuddling for comfort often increases in wintertime when temperatures drop.

Protection

If you’ve had your dog for a while, there will be a strong bond between the two of you. They usually see their family as part of their pack, and they’ll want to protect you from any threats or harm. Some dog breeds can be more protective than others.

Protective cuddling could also stem from jealousy. This is more common if you have other pets or children in your home. They may also growl at any other dogs that approach you or get upset when you give attention to other pets. 

You’re Reinforcing The Behavior

Certain actions reinforce behaviors for dogs. For example, when your dog lays on top of you after a long day, and you give them a stroke or a cuddle, you may not think anything of this, but for your dog, this is a signal that laying on top of you will earn them a reward. 

If you find yourself doing this often, it could be the cause of your dog constantly climbing on top of you – especially if you don’t ask them to get off of you instantly. 

Attention

Dogs will always want attention, but some dog’s need for attention can become too much. In puppies, the need for attention is normal; they depend on their mother. However, when dogs grow older, their need for attention can be a little annoying. 

Climbing on top of you can be a signal for attention, but so can:

  • Poking you
  • Licking you
  • Pawing
  • Nipping 
  • Stealing
  • Excessive barking
  • Restless behavior

Often owners find these behaviors frustrating if they happen frequently. It can be hard to ignore loud barking or climbing on top of you, but if you keep answering these actions, it can reinforce them. 

Dogs are social animals who need daily interaction; it can be easy to accidentally reinforce these attention-grabbing behaviors. Attention-seeking behavior can also stem from boredom. When docks lack exercise, confidence, or mental stimulation, they may act out in these ways. 

Affection

Similarly to laying on top of you for comfort, your dog may be showing their affection. This is particularly common if you’re gone throughout the day, and they don’t see you as often. Laying on you is them asking for some quality time with you. 

Wanting to be close to you shows their love; letting them sit on top of you strengthens your relationship. This also has health benefits for dogs. Studies have shown that oxytocin, the hormone that enables us to feel happy, is released through touch, warmth, and stroking. This gives further anti-stress effects for both humans and dogs!

Separation Anxiety

Do you miss your dog while you’re apart? Leaving your pup at home isn’t nice; it’s also difficult for your dog. Separation anxiety is when dogs feel distressed when their owner is absent. Dogs sometimes find it hard to cope when their owner is not around. 

If your dog has separation anxiety, it will be at its worst when you aren’t around. When you return, they may appear over-excited and affectionate when you return. Laying on top of you a little too much can be a symptom of this excitement. 

Communication

Dogs communicate their wants and needs in various ways; since we can’t speak to them, we need to be on top of decoding these signals. Laying on top of you may be their way of telling you something, not just a need to be close to you. Some dogs may use this action to ask for treats, go for a walk, or play with you. 

What To Do About Your Dog Laying On You

If you’ve identified that your dog is spending too much time on your lap, you may want to do something about it. Here are some tips and ways to train your pup to give you some space when you need it.

Determine When They Frequently Lay On You

Observe when your dog gets too comfortable with you. Is it before you take them outside? Or do they do it before mealtimes? What are you doing when they climb on you? Your pup could be interpreting your behaviors as attention needing too. 

It’s also helpful to pay attention to others’ behaviors too. Does your dog jump on top of you when strangers are near? This could be a form of them trying to protect you.

Tips To Stop Your Dog From Laying On Top Of You

Avoid Encouraging The Behavior

If a dog gets rewarded for a behavior, chances are they’ll start repeating it for more treats. When your dog next lays on top of you, try to deter them. This will teach them boundaries and space. 

Make sure to deter them gently. Don’t shout or push them abruptly; this can cause feelings of rejection, and it will confuse them. Allow them to stay close to you – but where you want them. This could be by your feet or if they’re allowed next to you on the couch. 

Be consistent in these actions; repetition will help them understand what is and isn’t okay. 

Encourage The Behavior For Good Reasons

While laying on top of you can be annoying, sometimes a nice cuddle is appreciated. It doesn’t hurt to allow your dog to lay on you sometimes, but make sure it’s on your terms and for the right reasons. 

When you’re comfortable and relaxed, allow them on top of you; these moments are bonding and will help de-stress the both of you. If you are strict about when they can and can’t climb on you, they will learn that ‘off’ and ‘no’ are commands to leave.

Crate Train With Positive Reinforcement

One of the best ways to stop your dog from laying on you is to start crate training them. It’s important to use positive reinforcement when crate training, though. Instead of letting them sleep on you, train them to do it in their crate or bed. 

Make sure their bed is comfortable and appropriate for them. It’s key that they like this space. Leave their crate or bed in a quiet corner, away from any busy areas of the house. This will allow them to have quiet moments alone, but they will also be able to observe the family. A corner of the living room is a perfect space for this. 

When your dog stands by their crate, reward them with a treat to associate their bed with rewards. Try to encourage your dog to lay down on their bed; when they do this, treat them again. This process should be repeated until they learn that their crate gets them rewards. 

Another benefit to crate training is that it helps the dog see their crate as a safe space. This is a good way to solve separation anxiety.

The Takeaway

When your dog is spending too much time sleeping on you, the best way to solve the problem is to switch the focus onto the dog’s bed. Show them that spending time in their crate or space is how to get your love and attention. 

Don’t feel guilty about stopping your dog from sleeping on you. You can still have healthy cuddles with your pooch, but make sure that there are boundaries in place so that you don’t have a dog on your lap all the time. You can always allow them to sit next to you or at your feet in a sort of compromise! When you train your dog, they will understand when they can give you a sleepy cuddle and where they should sleep.