10 Reasons Why Your Dog Always Wants to Lay on Top of You

It’s no secret that people love dogs. About 53 percent of American homes have at least one dog, and most of those owners consider their dog part of the family. 

But just because we deeply love our furry friends does not mean we always understand them. After all, there is a bit of a language barrier. Moreover, dogs do peculiar things that we don’t always understand, such as sniffing their rear ends, barking at nothing, and, of course, laying on top of us.

So, why does your dog always want to lay on top of you? 

Mostly, your dog wants to lay on top of you because they want your attention, they’re being affectionate, or they want to play. Laying on top of you is its way to communicate these things.

However, there are several other reasons why your dog might want to lay on top of you. Keep reading to learn more about this adorable (and sometimes obnoxious) behavior. 

10 Reasons Your Dog Lays on Top of You

You may view your dog lying on you as cute or annoying. For instance, if you own a tiny Chihuahua, it’s probably pretty adorable and fairly manageable. But if you own a Great Dane, you have bigger problems. 

According to our research, there are ten reasons your dog is lying on top of you. Check them out here:

  1. Affection
  2. Encouragement
  3. Attention
  4. Playfulness
  5. Dominance
  6. Missing you
  7. Protection
  8. Want something
  9. Scared
  10. Sick

It takes more than a simple list to understand your dog’s actions completely, so let’s examine each of these reasons. 

1. Affection 

In most cases, dogs use physical touch and closeness to demonstrate affection to their owners. They can’t tell you with words that they love you, but they sure can show it.

Your dog may lay on top of you to let you know that they love you. If your dog throws in a good tail wag and some kisses, affection is almost certainly your answer. And if you’re laying down, you’re just an easy target.

Don’t worry about your dog laying on you if you suspect it’s just him showing his affection for you. If you have a large dog and small children, you can check out our section below on how to prevent your dog from laying on people.

But if it doesn’t bother you or hurt anyone, this can certainly be welcomed behavior. 

2. You Encourage It 

Dogs learn how they should and shouldn’t behave directly from you. That’s why the early stages of training are so important. Good training includes encouraging good behavior and discouraging bad behavior. 

Any behavior you encourage in your dog, good or bad, will be repeated. 

For instance, if your dog jumps up on you when you walk through the front door and you greet him happily, he’ll likely jump up on everyone else that walks through the door. He won’t understand that you enjoy it and other people don’t. 

The same goes for laying on top of you. When your dog lays on top of you, how do you react? Do you shoo him off or laugh and scratch his head? If you’re doing the latter, you have your answer.

3. Attention 

Much like little kids poking at their mother’s sides, dogs often request – or demand – attention from their owners. It can be a little annoying to deal with this behavior, but you have to remember that you are that animal’s whole world.

Remember that bad behavior is just as likely to get your attention as good. Consider things like:

  • Pawing
  • Barking
  • Licking
  • Nipping
  • Nudging 

Some dogs are extra pushy and will climb on top of you to get your attention. They’re usually satisfied with some eye contact and a good head scratch, but they may also be looking for something more than that, such as a play session. 

4. Playfulness 

If your dog is laying on you to get your attention, he may be doing so to get you to play with him. What you view as bad behavior might be your pup being playful. Dogs, especially puppies, need a lot of playtime attention to keep them happy and occupied. 

When your dog lays on top of you, there’s a good chance he’s telling you to put down your phone, turn off the TV, and play with him. Now would be a good time to pick up a toy and head to the backyard for a few minutes. 

5. Dominance 

Some pet owners face issues of dominance with their dogs. Dogs can display dominance in several ways, such as overly protecting their toys, growling and barking at you, and leading you on walks. 

And some dogs will demonstrate their dominance by standing on you or laying on top of you.

Unlike many other reasons on our list, this one isn’t so cute. It’s a dangerous behavior that can quickly worsen if you don’t get the situation under control. 

If your dog is showing signs of dominance to you, it’s because he believes he’s the pack leader – and not you. It’s critical to take steps to correct this behavior and show your dog who is truly in charge. 

6. They Missed You 

While not everyone believes it, substantial evidence suggests that our dogs miss us when we’re not around. Your dog can tell by your actions whether you plan a quick trip to the store or are getting ready to leave for work. 

The studies showed that dogs greet their owners more intensely after two hours than after just 30 minutes. 

So, if you’ve been gone for two hours or more, your dog might display different kinds of behavior that demonstrate how much they missed you – including laying on top of you. 

If you went away on vacation and have found your dog lying near you or on top of you since you got home, it’s likely because he missed you. If he does this every night when you get home from work, your dog might have a problem with separation anxiety. 

7. Protection 

Think about all of the things you would do for your dog. If it needed life-saving surgery, it wouldn’t matter what the cost was. If your dog ran out into the middle of the road, you’d probably chase after it. And there’s a good chance you give up half the bed for him.

Dogs can be extremely loyal to their owners, so it makes sense that they would get protective over them. If your dog feels like you are being threatened, it may act protectively to keep you safe. 

And sometimes protective means physically guarding you – and laying on top of you. 

Protective behavior isn’t necessarily bad, but it can become a problem if you let it reach a certain extent.

For instance, dogs acting out of jealousy can cause issues in relationships. If your dog tries to guard you against your wife, you may have a more serious behavioral problem. 

8. They Want Something

Dogs can’t speak to us in a way that we understand, so sometimes they do odd things to show us they want or need something. One of these actions may be to lay on top of you. After all, it’s certainly hard to ignore them like this. 

Your dog may hop on your lap or lay on your chest when they need to go outside. Maybe your dog’s favorite toy is stuck somewhere, and it needs your help retrieving it. Or perhaps it’s dinner time, and you haven’t fed it.

If your dog is lying on you, he may be trying to tell you that he wants or needs something from you. It’s up to you to figure it out. 

9. They’re Scared or Anxious

Did you know that more than 70 percent of dogs display signs of anxiety? That’s a huge number, so the chances that your dog experiences anxiety are pretty high. 

And it may be the reason behind your dog’s proximity to you. 

Your dog may come to lay on you because he is scared or anxious. Different things trigger different dogs. Some are sensitive to loud noises, so you may find your pup crawling on your lap during fireworks or thunderstorms. 

Other dogs get nervous around new people, other pets, or new environments. They may be looking for extra support from you in these situations. 

Your dog may also have anxieties about things you can’t even detect. If your dog crawls on top of you, anxiety may be why. 

10. They Feel Sick

Your dog looks to you not only as their master but as a parental figure. What do children do when they’re not feeling well? They run to mom and dad. 

If your dog laying on top of you is not typical behavior for him, he might be feeling sick. A dog can’t take care of himself when he’s not feeling well, so he will turn to you for help. Whether he needs to go to the vet or wants a little extra love, this could be a sign he’s feeling icky. 

If your dog is suddenly lying on top of you, consider his activities in the last 24 to 48 hours. If he got into the trash, you switched his food, or he was in contact with other dogs, he could have a bug that needs attention. 

How Do I Stop My Dog from Laying on Top of Me? 

Whatever the reason for the behavior, you may be looking to stop your dog from laying on top of you. Try these easy tips to correct it. 

Don’t Encourage It

Even the smallest smile or pat can serve as a reward for your dog, so the first thing you need to do is be careful not to encourage your dog’s behavior. 

The next time he lays on top of you, gently shove him off of you and use a command that they know, such as “off” or “down” or “no.” 

Be cautious during these actions, as you don’t want your dog to think you’re rejecting him. Be firm but calm and don’t shout or abruptly shove. Let your dog stay close to your side, just not on top of you. 

Praise Good Behavior

Your dog likes to please you. If it does something you like, make sure it knows how happy it makes you. 

Whenever your dog jumps on the bed and lays next to you, give him lots of praise. The same goes for other settings, such as the couch or the floor. 

The more you encourage a behavior, the more he will want to do it. 

Final Thoughts

Dogs are loving, loyal, and smart animals. When trained properly, they can make fantastic pets that are gentle and playful family members. 

But since they are still animals, it’s important to monitor their behavior and recognize when something has gone from cute and quirky to obnoxious and dangerous. 

Your dog might be lying on your for one of several different reasons – many of which are completely harmless and showcase their love and affection for you. But some of these reasons are not good and can lead to aggression down the road.

Use this information to evaluate your dog’s behavior and decide if they need some further guidance on proper behavior in the home and around people. But always train them with love and patience! 

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