Why Does My Dog Lay on Top of Me?

Disclosure: Our recommendations are based on our testing, research and analysis. We may earn a commission on products purchased using links on this page.

It can be sweet to have your dog come up and lie on top of you when you’re on the couch or bed. It can also be inconvenient and, depending on how big your furry friend is, hard to breathe. If your dog does this, you may be wondering why. There are a surprisingly large number of reasons for this behavior.

You’re Warm

A simple explanation is you’re warm. Dogs don’t have blankets or sweaters, so they lie on each other for warmth when they feel cold. If the weather is a little chilly, this could be the reason for your dog’s behavior, especially likely if your dog is getting on in years. Just like older people, older dogs can find it difficult to stay warm. So even if it doesn’t seem cold to you, it might seem cold to your dog.

Some dog breeds are particularly prone to getting cold. Frequently chilly breeds include:

  • Bulldogs
  • Great Dane
  • Chihuahua
  • Shih Tzu
  • Boxer

They’re Making a Statement to Other Dogs

Dogs’ worlds are dominated by their sense of smell. It’s even more important to them than sight. A wild dog is a pack animal. By lying on you, your dog is trying to get their scent on you and possibly get some of your scent on them as well to make a statement to other dogs.

Dogs’ noses are far more sensitive than humans’ noses are. They can smell other dogs’ scents on you even days after your dog puts it there. By marking you with their scent and vice versa, your dog is announcing to other dogs that the two of you are part of the same pack.

They Want Your Attention

You’ve ignored all the hints your dog’s been dropping about wanting your attention, so your dog has decided to put it in terms that even you can’t miss. By flopping down on top of you, your dog is making it impossible for you to ignore them.

There could be many different reasons why your dog wants your attention. They might want to play. Or maybe they want some affection. They could be hungry or thirsty. Perhaps they just want some treats.

They’re Feeling Anxious

dog is feeling anxious

Dogs sometimes get anxious. If your dog is feeling anxious or experiences separation anxiety, they could try to lie on top of you as a way of cuddling. They need you to reassure them that everything is OK.

There are many reasons why your dog could be feeling anxious. Sometimes, it depends on your dog’s breed. Dog breeds are more anxious than others, so if you have a Labrador retriever, cocker spaniel, or German shepherd, be on the lookout.

Changes in their home environment or their daily schedule could do it, to. Being left alone for long periods could, too, if separation anxiety is an issue. (And that’s as long as your dog reckons long, which may not seem very long to you.) Age can do it. Increasing infirmity, failing eyesight, and even canine dementia can leave your dog feeling fearful.

Certain signs can mean that your dog is suffering from anxiety. A loss of appetite is one. Trembling is another. Whining sounds and peeing in the house are other indications. As a dog parent, you must keep an eye out for this dog behavior to make sure your best friend isn’t exhibiting bad behavior because they are anxious.

They’re Showing You that They Trust You

Because dogs can’t tell you about their feelings, they usually try to demonstrate them to you instead. Lying on you is one of the ways that some dogs do this. You see, it’s all about vulnerability.

When they lie on top of you, they’re letting your hands and teeth get very close to them while they’re in the vulnerable position of lying down. By doing this, they may be trying to show you that they trust you enough not to need to protect themselves from you.

It’s Your Fault

You may have trained your furry friend to do this, even without realizing it. When they cuddle up close to you or lie on you, how do you respond? Do you pet them? Do you hug them? Maybe you even give them treats? While these things may seem like harmless expressions of affection to you, you could be sending your dog the message that doing this will lead to rewards. So, naturally, they start doing it more.

They Just Like Spending Time with You

Dog Like Spending Time with You

Of course, it could also be that your dog just really likes spending time with you. They love you, and they want to be as close to you as possible. And they naturally think that you’ll react like other dogs would and appreciate the extreme closeness.

What You Can Do to Discourage this Behavior

First of all, if you’ve been encouraging this behavior in the past, stop. Communicate with your dog more clearly. If they act like they’re about to try to climb on top of you, change your position, put out your hand, and simply make it difficult for them to do so. When your dog lays on you, gently pick them up and put them on the floor.

You can also try getting them a comfortable dog bed. Make it the right size for them to fit comfortably in and that it’s well padded. Put some toys nearby. Make it a place they will want to sleep in. Whenever your dog tries to lie on you, put them in the bed. They will eventually get the message.

Try to figure out if they’re doing this because they need something from you right away, like food or going outside. Look for signs of anxiety. If there is something specific your dog needs, you could fix the problem by giving it to them. If you can’t figure it out as a pet parent and dog lover, it may be time to look into professional dog training.

Does Your Dog Jump on You? Bark At Bad Times? Behave in an Out of Line Way?

Find Out How to Make Your Dog as Obedient as a Service Dog in this Free Online Workshop from Dr. Alexa Diaz, PhD dog behaviorist.

Sponsored Link: If you purchase one of the followup products after the workshop, we will receive a fee. The Workshop is free and the cost is not passed onto you.

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Please give us feedback on this post:

Let us improve this post!

Tell us how we can improve this post?

Down to earth, common sense, proven DOG advice
Welcome to Spike’s Dog Blog by Acme Canine. Throughout the site, you will find a variety of helpful dog training articles, insightful dog behavior tips, and truthful product reviews from nationally-recognized canine trainers and professionals.