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You are enjoying your favorite show, relaxing on the couch, then you get up to grab a snack. You return to find your seat is now occupied by your four-legged best friend.
Some dog owners can relate to this battle over the best seat in the house. It can be a cute gesture, but why do dogs do it?
A dog usually means no harm in snagging the best spot, but it is best to understand why. When your dog takes your spot, it could mean something simple like that they could use a little extra care from you. It could also be a red flag that some behavior correction is in order.
Read on to learn why your spot becomes your dog’s favorite place in your home.
Dogs are wonderful pets because they can pick up training queues and learn what behaviors lead to praise or rewards. Sometimes we train our dogs to do tricks or obey, but not everything our dog learns is intentionally taught by us.
You may not realize it, but if you give your dog pets or get a little playful when they jump into your seat, you have trained them to do this. If being on your spot gets them a pet on the head, they are likely to keep doing it.
Those silly voices and scruff tussles are positive reinforcements. Your dog wants your attention and loves to play, so they may have learned that seat stealing is one of the games you play together.
Dogs are happiest when their owners are close by. When you head out the door, your dog is usually there to say ‘goodbye.’ When you return, they’re immediately wagging their tail.
Your dog misses you when you’re not around, even if you’re only making a trip to the kitchen. When they steal your spot, it could be because they want to be close to where you made them feel safe and secure.
Especially if you have a breed or dog prone to separation anxiety, your dog may be seeking extra comfort in your spot. If you have been away or more distracted around the house, you might notice this spot-stealing happening more often.
To Feel Cozy and Warm
Dogs will usually be drawn to warm, comforting areas. Some breeds, like chihuahuas and other toy dogs, are not very cold-tolerant and love finding a safe, warm place to rest. Short-haired breeds want to be cuddled in warmth. If given a chance, you can expect these dogs to sneak onto a warm couch cushion.
In the wild, dog dens are home. It is where pups are born and cared for, and food is safely brought to the pack. Studies have found that dogs will sometimes heavily protect this space.
Your spot smells and feels like home to your dog; you are their family. When your dog takes your cozy seat, it can be an instinct to protect your territory for you.
A less likely reason for snagging your spot when you get up is to exercise dominance in your home. Although not a common cause, taking your seat could signify your dog is trying to establish their territory.
If you believe your dog is guarding furniture the way they would protect your yard, it may be an action that requires your correction. If you have multiple pets, taking your spot could be them trying to take over as ‘true alpha’ in your absence.
Note that dominant dog behavior needs to be watched as this can lead to aggressiveness to other animals or even small children. Look for signs of aggressive behavior, such as growling or showing teeth when you or others approach them.
It is essential to take steps to correct this type of guarding. Make sure not to reinforce the behavior with positive reinforcement such as physical or verbal praise. Correcting as soon as possible helps to avoid nips or bites from your pet in the future.
You can work with your pet to stop this habit from forming. Like any dog learning, you need to redirect the action as soon as it happens and do it consistently. Allowing seat stealing now and then or having the ‘just this once’ mentality will only make it harder for you and your dog.
When your pup jumps up, use a ‘get down’ command and gently move them from your seat. Do this until only the command is needed; eventually, your dog will stop doing the action.
Make sure you are consistent with all pets in your home as well, dogs and cats alike. Show your pet and all pets in your home that the action does not lead to affection.
Also, make sure your dog has its special spot. A calming dog bed where their favorite toy can live just might be more inviting than your seat. If it is close to you and comfortable, your dog will likely prefer it in time.
Stealing your spot is not likely a problem and typically doesn’t need any follow-up unless it bothers you. If your dog isn’t showing signs of aggression, it is likely more a nuisance than something to worry about.
Having a pet who loves you enough to want to be wherever you just sat is more sweet than troublesome. Dogs want to be around your smell and warmth, but if your dog starts displaying aggression, take steps to manage the behavior. If the seat stealing doesn’t stop, consider using a dog trainer if you are seriously concerned.
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