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Do you ever wonder why your dog likes to lay on you? Dogs have a variety of reasons for doing this, some of which are quite obvious, while others might surprise you.
Is it normal for dogs to lay on you? Does this indicate that they see you as a pack leader?
Why Does My Dog Lay On Me?
Most dogs will lay on their owners because they enjoy the physical contact and feeling of closeness. For many dogs, it’s simply a sign of affection. They see you as someone they trust and feel secure with. However, all dogs are different and may lay on you for various reasons.
In this article, we will discuss all the details of the 9 reasons a dog lays on you. We will also look at the good and bad reasons for this behavior and answer any frequently asked questions about it.
So, keep reading if you’re curious as to why your furry friend likes to cuddle up with you!
Why Do Dogs Lay On You? 9 Reasons For This Behavior
1. They Want Your Attention
The most common and simplest explanation for your dog to lay on you is for attention.
Just like when they paw at you or sit on your feet, they’re looking for some affection. And what better way to get it than by snuggling up close?
If you find that your dog only lays on you when you’re trying to do something else or haven’t had a lot of time to pet them, this is likely the reason.
In this case, it’s best to ensure they get enough exercise, playtime, and stimulation. If their needs are met, they won’t be as needy for attention.
This will also help prevent other problem behaviors from developing out of a need for attention, such as excessive barking or chewing.
2. It’s A Reinforced Behavior
When dogs are puppies, they quickly figure out how to get their way. So your dog may have learned that when they lay on you, they get something they want.
Suppose every time they come to snuggle up with you, they get a belly rub, food, playtime, or simply your attention. In that case, this could be reinforcing this behavior.
They have created a positive association with laying on you, so they will keep doing it!
3. Marking You With Their Scent
Dog use their scent to communicate with other animals. So when they lay on you, they are essentially claiming you as their own.
This is especially true if your dog likes to lay on you when you get home or after you’ve been out and about. Dogs can use their scent to try and communicate with you and your family as well.
When your dog lays on your feet, chest, clothes, etc., they might spread their scent to communicate with other dogs, animals, or you.
Dogs have sweat glands in their paw pads, which emit pheromones when they put them on something or someone.
A dog may use their scent in this manner to claim you as their territory, so other dogs or pets know.
Dogs, like people, have a propensity to show favoritism. This means your dog may simply lay on you because you are their favorite! This might also mean that they want to be your favorite as well.
This is usually seen when a new family member comes into the picture. For example, Suppose your dog has always been your only pet, and another animal is introduced into your home.
In that case, they may begin to cuddle up to you more frequently.
They’re essentially trying to demonstrate to the new family member that they’re still your number one. As a result, your dog may feel compelled to protect its position as your favorite and lay on you more to demonstrate it.
But as I mentioned already, it could just be your dogs laying on you to show you that you’re their favorite.
5. Comforting You & Themselves
Your dog can read your emotions better than you may believe. They can determine your feelings based on your body language, tone of voice, and facial expressions.
In fact, they can also smell your emotions. For example, dogs can tell how stressed we are by sniffing our sweat. Plus, the automated functions that begin as your body responds to how you’re feeling are noticeable to dogs.
When stressed, your heart rate increases, levels of perspiration increase, and your dog may pick up on all these things.
So if your dog notices this, they may come to lay on you to try and comfort you.
Fun fact, did you know your emotions can direct change how a dog feels? For example, if you are sad or upset, it can often make your dog feel similar. So laying on you could be for comforting you as well as themself.
If your dog lays on your when you cry, are sick, or just having a bad day, they are likely able to tell and are laying on you to try and help.
6. They Want To Be Close
Another reason your dog loves laying on you is that there’s no way for them to get any closer!
They love physical contact and being in your presence. This is usually the case for dogs that are left alone all day. The last thing they want to do once you come home is to continue laying alone!
Instead, they’d rather be as near to you as possible. Therefore the best way is for them to lay on top of you.
It also helps that this is when you typically start petting them and giving them the affection and attention they’ve been craving all day!
7. To Stop You From Moving
This reason for a dog laying on you is self-explanatory but worth mentioning.
Your dog may lay on you to stop you from moving! For example, if a dog knows you’re about to leave the house or have to go to work, they may try to stop you by laying on top of you.
Dogs will do anything to stay close to their favorite people; this is just another way they try to do so. They want to make it as difficult as possible for you to get up and leave them behind.
It’s also likely they found a perfect position, and your moving would ruin it.
8. Warmth, Safety & Security
Your dog may also lay on you to feel warm, safe, and secure.
Dogs that love laying on their humans for warmth are typically bred with thinner fur coats or ones that weren’t bred for colder climates.
This is because they don’t have the same insulating ability as dogs with thicker fur coats. So if your dog falls into this category, they may lay on you to reap the benefits of your warmth!
However, all dogs can lay on their humans for the feeling of security and safety. Dogs are pack animals, so being close to their pack (aka you) provides them with a sense of comfort.
In addition, If your dog is anxious or fearful, they may lay on you as a way to feel more protected.
This is especially common in puppies and young dogs still getting used to their surroundings. It’s also not uncommon for dogs to lay on their humans when they hear loud noises like thunderstorms or fireworks.
Laying on you provides comfort and security during these scary times.
9. If A Female dog – Possibly In Heat
When a female dog goes into heat, she releases hormones that let males know she’s available for mating.
However, there are some other side effects for dogs in heat that you may not be aware of. For example, female dogs in heat tend to be clingy and needy. So if your female dog suddenly wants to lay on you more than usual, it could be because she’s in heat.
Signs that your female dog may be in heat include a change in appetite, increased urination, restlessness, and moodiness.
If she is in heat, the clingy phase of her heat cycle only lasts roughly 9 days.
So you should see her acting normally again after a couple weeks.
5 Ways To Stop Your Dog From Laying On You
You can ignore the tips below if you don’t mind your dog laying on you. However, if your dog seems overly clingy and constantly lays on you, these 5 tips should be helpful.
Before we get into the tips, I should mention that the key to changing a dog’s behavior is to first identify why they are doing it.
So, read the section above to determine why your dog might be laying on you. Once you know the reason, you can better target the solution.
Now let’s get into the tips!
1. Stop Reinforcing The Behavior
It’s difficult for some people, but if you want them to stop, don’t offer your dog any pats or praises when they lay on you.
By giving them praise or belly rubs, you are reinforcing the behavior.
So instead, try to ignore them or gently push them off you if they’re being particularly clingy. This way, they’ll realize that this isn’t the behavior you want from them.
If they are laying on your because they are cold and in search of warmth, try getting them a dog blanket or coat to lay on instead of you.
This way, they can still lay close to you without actually being on top of you.
2. Increase Their Activity
It’s possible that your dog is bored or has too much energy if they keep trying to lay on you.
This can be alleviated in various ways, one of which is to ensure they get enough activity and exercise throughout the day. This might imply anything from going for more strolls/runs or playing fetch in the backyard more frequently.
You can also try training them to do tricks or other activities that will help use up some of their pent-up energy. For example, snuffle mats, puzzle toys, automatic ball launchers, and other toys can be a great way to keep their minds challenged and engaged.
The more they can burn off their excess energy, the less likely they’ll be to lay on you as much.
Plus, it’s great for their overall health and wellbeing!
3. Train A Command
Another way to help stop your dog from laying on you all the time is to train them a command to get off of you!
This simple training behavior can be done with any type of positive reinforcement. For example, this can be done using their favorite treat, toy, or verbal praise.
The first step is to get your dog in the “down” position next to you. Once they are laying down, put a treat in front of their nose and slowly move it away from their body while saying a command like “off.”
You’ll put the treat in front of their nose and then say “off” as you move it away from their face toward the ground. They’ll either get down themselves or need a little push to get them moving off.
Do this a few times daily until they respond to the command consistently.
4. Give Them A Comfy Spot To Rest
If your dog doesn’t have a comfortable place of their own, they may choose to lay on you more than you’d like.
A simple way to fix this is by getting them a bed of their own that they enjoy resting in.
Pair that with giving them a piece of your clothing to cuddle with; it could become their new favorite hang-out spot.
5. Give Them More Quality 1-On-1 Time
If your life has gotten busy, your dog might be laying on you to let you know they’ve been feeling isolated and miss you.
One way to help with this is to make more time for quality, one-on-one interactions with them.
This could be done by taking them on more walks, hikes, trips to the dog park, or playing more games together.
Even just a few minutes of your attention playing can make a big difference in how they feel. This can ultimately reduce how clingy they’re behaving.
Are Certain Dog Breeds More Affectionate?
Now that we’ve gone over some tips to help stop your dog from being clingy, you might be wondering…
Are some dogs just more affectionate than others?
The answer is yes! However, it really depends on the individual dog and their personality/temperament. All dogs have the potential to be affectionate. It just may be more common in certain breeds.
Some of the most affectionate (and potentially clingy) dog breeds include:
- Golden retriever
- Labrador retriever
- Great Dane
- German Shepherd
- Brussels Griffon
- Bichon Frise
- Bernese Mountain Dog
Other Frequently Asked Questions
Why Does My Dog Lay On My Feet?
It’s normal behavior for a dog to lay down at their owner’s feet. This may be a way of showing affection or to position themselves in a way where they can better protect you.
Some dogs are content to stay on the floor instead of sitting next to you on the couch. So they end up right by your feet or on top of them.
Why Does My Dog Lay On My Clothes?
Dogs that usually go out of their way to lay on your clothes might be trying to comfort themselves with your scent. This can provide a sense of security, especially if they’re anxious or stressed.
They might also just enjoy the way your clothes smell!
Why Does My Dog Lay On My Pillow?
If your dog likes to lay on your pillow, they might try getting as close to you as possible. This is a way of showing affection and can also be comforting for them.
Some dogs also just enjoy the softness of a pillow, and it might be their favorite spot in the house! In addition, your pillow may smell like you, which can be comforting for them.
Why Does My Dog Lay On Me At Night?
Dogs that sleep on top of their owners at night are usually trying to stay as close to them as possible. This is a sign of affection and can also be comforting for the dog.
Some dogs might also just enjoy the warmth of their owner’s body and prefer to sleep next to them instead of in their own bed.
Dogs lay on people for a variety of reasons. It could be a sign of affection, anxiety, or just comfort. If you’re not a fan of your dog laying on you, there are some things you can do to help stop the behavior.
Giving them more quality time, their own comfortable spot to rest, and helping them feel more secure can all reduce how clingy they are.
However, some dogs are just more affectionate than others, and this behavior may be more common in certain breeds.
A dog laying on you is usually not a cause for concern. Still, if you think something might be wrong, it’s always best to consult with your veterinarian.
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