Our furry friends lay on us for many reasons, and while some of these reasons may be a sign of an underlying problem, the overwhelming majority of them are not a cause for concern.
For dog owners and pet lovers in general, cuddling with their beloved companions might be one of the best things in their relationship with them. However, some of us may have noticed that our dogs frequently lay across or on top of us when we relax in bed or sit on the sofa.
There are a number of possible answers to the question of “Why does my dog lay on me?” including your dog’s desire for security and comfort, physical warmth, attention, to ease anxiety, to protect you, and to show affection.
Generally speaking, if you don’t have a problem with your pooch laying on you, it is completely okay to let them. With that said, if you are still curious about why your dog lays on you, the various answers we mentioned above, from warmth to anxiety, might surprise you.
In this article, we will dive deep into dog behavior and try to explain why your four-legged bestie lays on you. So, let’s get started!
Why does my dog lay on top of me?
One of the most common reasons that your furry friend might lay on top of you is because of its instincts. Instincts are nothing more than personality traits embedded into a canine’s genes as they evolved from wolves thousands of years ago into the loveable family pets we have today.
For example, small dog breeds like Dachshunds, or sausage dogs as you might know them, tend to have strong territorial instincts and lay on their humans to keep them or their territory all to themselves.
Let’s go over some of the strongest canine instincts to get a clear picture of why your dog might want to lay on top of you.
Comfort and safety
If the question “Why does my dog lay on me?” comes to your mind often, the answer might be that it is either seeking safety or comfort from unusual sounds or events like the following:
• Loud music
• Grinder or blender
• A car backfiring
On the other hand, they might also be lying on top of you in an attempt to offer YOU a sense of safety and comfort.
Canines can sense a change in your mood through the scent of hormones that are released. Similarly, they can hear and distinguish subtle nuances in your vocalizations whenever you are feeling down.
So, if you are upset, crying, or even worried about something, your dog will certainly notice and try to console you in any way it can, including laying on top of you.
The second reason why your dog lies on top of you could be that it is dealing with an anxiety disorder or because it is feeling stressed out. Separation anxiety is one of the main problems dogs and dog owners battle on a daily basis.
Many pups that come from shelter facilities, puppy mills, rescue homes, or those who were once stray dogs tend to exhibit strong signs of trauma or PTSD.
PTSD or posttraumatic stress disorder can affect both animals and people after a hard puppyhood or childhood or after a taxing, difficult, and traumatic event has occurred.
Dogs suffering from anxiety disorders often exhibit violent outbursts as well as anger toward specific things such as hats, loud noises, tall people, or even other dogs. They also tend to seek cool and calm spaces, shelter, and physical attention from their owners to help them calm down.
If your doggy frequently lays on top of you and you worry it might be caused by an anxiety disorder, make sure to consult your veterinarian as soon as you can. Many canines diagnosed with anxiety benefit from anti-anxiety medication or antidepressants prescribed by their veterinarian.
Looking for warmth
If your dog lays on you mostly in the very early morning, during the fall and winter seasons, or at night, it might be looking for warmth.
If your pooch is simply snuggling beside you to borrow some body heat, then it is nothing to worry about. However, if it is also shivering and shaking uncontrollably, it can be a sign of an underlying health issue.
The next time you notice your doggy laying on you for warmth, just go with it and enjoy the cuddle time! You can also offer it a blanket to cuddle under or turn up the heat to create a more pleasant atmosphere for both of you.
A sign of respect and initiation
If you are wondering, “Why does my dog lay on me?” it could be because it wants to honor you. When street dogs, wild dogs, or even domesticated pets initiate other dogs or people into their pack, laying on one another is seen as a sign of respect.
If your doggo is lying on you in a docile and calm way, you should see it as a sign of affection and realize that the dog has accepted you.
Some clear signs that your dog is lovingly laying on top of you are the following:
• The tail is completely still or wagging very slowly.
• Your dog’s head is down and resting on you.
• Its ears are relaxed rather than perked up or pulled back.
• Its eyes are either half-closed or fully closed.
• Your pooch is breathing heavily and slowly or is even snoring.
• You notice that your dog is twitching or dreaming in its sleep.
If your canine bestie is laying on you calmly and frequently and eventually ends up falling asleep, don’t worry! This just means that your dog loves or trusts you enough to let its guard down in your presence. Moreover, the dog feels relaxed and protected whenever it is around you, which is something all pet owners should strive to achieve.
Detecting an illness
A rather unlikely but not impossible reason your four-legged companion is suddenly beginning to lay on top of you or a particular part of your body is due to its ability to detect illness in humans.
Even though not all canines possess this ability, studies have found that if a domesticated dog develops a strong bond with its owner, its sense of smell becomes highly attuned to them.
Therefore, it is quite possible that your dog can detect the following ailments:
• Parkinson’s disease
It is also possible for some dogs to detect seizures before they happen! Some dog breeds, for instance, Labrador Retrievers, are trained to alert their owners before a seizure happens so that they can find a safe place or reach out for help.
While this is quite an interesting finding in animal-human research, you shouldn’t be too alarmed if your dog suddenly begins laying on top of you. Although going to the doctor for a checkup is never a bad idea, the chances that your doggy senses something is wrong with your health are pretty slim.
It makes the dog feel happy
By the looks of it, laying on top of their owners makes the dog happy. This is due to something called oxytocin.
Oxytocin is actually a hormone that enables both the dog and the owner to feel good. Research suggests that this hormone is released through warmth, stroking, and touch. A pet owner does all of this!
Furthermore, oxytocin is released through eye contact and is the main culprit behind the way your heart bursts with joy whenever you look at your dog’s big round eyes.
Oxytocin also has anti-stress effects by decreasing glucocorticoid levels in both dogs and humans. Glucocorticoid is a stress hormone.
Why does my dog like to lay on other dogs?
Photo from: @daisysausage
Our canine besties tend to lay on their friends for similar reasons that they would lay on their owners. These reasons can be any of the following:
• Their instincts make them seek physical affection and attention.
• They are looking to increase their body heat in cold weather.
• They are offering comfort and safety to another pooch.
• They feel anxiety or stress and are looking for a dog friend or safe space to keep them feeling • secure.
• They are exhibiting signs of comfortability and respect with other dogs. Dogs are pack animals, after all.
Apart from these reasons, when your dog lays on another dog, it could simply mean it wants to play. Dogs love to throw their weight around with their kind and play tackle just like human children do.
On the other hand, dogs laying on one another can also be a way of determining a dominant relationship. If a big dog such as a Retriever, Great Dane, or German Shepherd decides to show dominance over another dog, they might try to get on top of them and physically restrain them by laying on top of them.
Why does my dog sleep on me and not my husband?
In some cases, both partners in a relationship feed and walk the dog equally, yet the dog somehow still prefers one partner over the other. Why is that?
Well, in most cases, this is simply a case of access or lack of it. If you spend more time at home with your pooch, the chances are that it will want to spend time with the other partner too.
Why does my dog put her paw on me?
When a dog puts its paw on you, the most likely reason is that they are trying to express their love for you. We pet our pooches to show affection and love, and as it turns out, our furry besties do the same. Well, at least they try their best.
By putting its paw on you while you are petting it, the dog is further extending contact and reciprocating the love back. While this act is interpreted as an expression of love in most cases, dog pawing can also be attributed to many other feelings.
Your dog might be seeking your attention or feeling insecure, which is a sign you should show him or her a little extra love. It could also mean that your dog’s stomach is empty. How to know for sure? Well, it mostly depends on the contest.
If you are cuddling with your pooch and it puts its paw on you, chances are that he is just showing love in return. On the other hand, if your canine is showing signs of anxiety, such as yawning, flat ears, or lip making, it could mean it is looking for attention.
Why does my dog lay on his back when he sees me?
There are several reasons why your dog drops to the ground and rolls on its back when you walk into the room. Here are some of the most common ones:
• Attention seeking
• Scratching an itch
• To regulate body temperature
• To show confidence
• To show submissiveness
Once again, the key thing to determining which of these scenarios is happening is to correctly read your dog’s body language.
If you notice your dog wagging its tail and looking at you upside down, it is most likely seeking your attention. However, if your pup’s body is stiff with a tail tucked between the legs, then the chances are your dog is showing its submission to you.
Why does my dog lay his head on me?
The answer is fairly simple – your dog puts his head over you to be close to you. It is just something dogs do to other dogs they consider to be part of their pack.
If your dog does this to you, he thinks of you as the same. Smaller dogs may simply want to rest their head on you, but it is still because they feel comfortable and safe in your presence. It is an adorable sign of affection that most pet parents cherish!
Encouraging your dog to lay somewhere else
If cuddling, touching, or having your dog lay on you is not really your cup of tea, that is perfectly okay. You have the right to tell your dog to lay elsewhere as long as you do it calmly and respectfully.
Since there is normally nothing wrong with your dog laying on top of you, you should refrain from punishing your dog or commanding it aggressively if it chooses to lay on you or one of your family members.
With that said, a few reasons would make it poor, inappropriate behavior or even unhealthy for your pooch to lay on you. These are the following:
• If your dog shows extreme dominance or aggression while trying to lay on you
• If it faces extreme anxiety and can only be consoled by laying on top of you
• If your pooch has breathing difficulties or shows signs of other illnesses
• If the question “Why does my dog lay on me?” never really leaves your thoughts
If any of these conditions occur when your dog tries to lay on you, you should seek out professional help from a veterinarian, dog trainer, or a dog behavior specialist as soon as possible. Their knowledge and experience can assist both you and your dog in tackling this problem.
How to keep your dog from laying on top of you
This section is for dog lovers who have decided that they don’t like their dogs laying on top of them. If that is your current situation, the key thing is to not feel bad about it.
Some people just don’t like their personal space being invaded by anyone, and that is perfectly fine. Luckily, there are ways to encourage all dogs to lay somewhere else.
If your dog is properly trained, you can use the following keywords, rewards, and tactics:
• Gently tell your dog “no” or “no thank you.”
• Point towards the ground while saying “no” until your dog gets off.
• Relocating a smaller pup by placing it elsewhere inside the house and giving it a treat.
• Enticing your pooch to lay somewhere else with food.
• Gently telling your dog to sit near you instead of on top of you while you are sitting or laying down.
• Using positive reinforcement to move him off you onto a piece of furniture or a mattress.
Another good solution would be to provide your dog with a crate, mat, or a dog bed. It is a very good investment regardless of whether your pooch lays on you or not.
Once your pooch realizes how comfortable and cozy its new dog bed is, the chances of using you as a mattress go down by a lot.
Keep in mind that dogs are like children. They are emotional and sensitive beings that seek the attention and love of those around them, especially the leader of the pack. Treating your dog with empathy and kindness will go a long way towards the best behavioral results.
As a dog owner who often has the question “Why does my dog lay on me?” on their mind, you should know that the most likely reason is that your four-legged companion is just seeking attention.
However, before you jump to this conclusion, make sure that your pooch does not have a medical problem of some sort.
If you determine that your dog shows no signs of anxiety or other issues, then go ahead and enjoy the cuddle session!
After all, one of the best things about owning a pup is being able to snuggle up with it and enjoy a calm evening full of affection curled up together on the couch!