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Dog Lays on Me: Why it Happens

Renee Whitmore
Last Updated on
by Renee Whitmore

Why do dogs lay on you?

Your chest may be one of your dog’s favorite places to lay when it comes to you. This may have to do with the fact that feeling you breathe makes your dog feel close to you.

When your dog snuggles up with you, they are acknowledging that you are indeed a member of the pack. Cuddling is a sign of closeness, affection, and connection, and most of all it’s a sign that your dog feels safe to be with you.

Snuggling is a continuation of the bonding process that began when you first brought your dog home. Your dog needs constant affirmation that you are there and present for them.

So, Why Does My Dog Lay On Me?

Why Does My Dog Lay on Me? We all know that our dogs love to cuddle up with us at any time, any place, and for any reason. If you're lying on the couch or the bed and your dog sees that your lap is empty, they may look at that as an open invitation. Big or small, lots of dogs like to lay on their owners.   But why?   Some dog parents love it, others not so much. Whether you view your dog laying on you as comforting or suffocating, we've got answers. This behavior is fairly common, and we'll tell you why your dogs like to lay on you and how you can stop it if that isn't your thing. But first, we'll give you the info so that you can make an informed decision.   Stay tuned!  So, Why Does My Dog Lay On Me? Because dogs are affectionate animals that consider their owners to be family members and part of their pack so to speak, they tend to mark their territory. The dogs that like to lay on you do so because they want to show their love and offer security and comfort. They also want to be on the receiving end as well.   So think of it this way, your dog feels like they are protecting and cherishing their loved one, even though there's no danger in sight.  What Does It Mean When Your Dog Lays On Top of You?  Dogs are pretty intelligent beings. They know how to get what they want from their owners. Here go some of the messages and signals your dog may be trying to send you when they hop onto your chest out of nowhere.   ●	Your dog wants your attention ●	He/She feels sad ●	He/She is bored ●	He/She is scared ●	Your dog feels like protecting you ●	Small puppies do this when they miss you and any siblings they may have ●	Separation anxiety ●	Your dog feels the safe position  ●	They think you like it  It is a little tricky to figure out exactly what your dog is trying to say, as their intentions could also be sneaky. Aha, sometimes our sweet little mischievous companions could be trying to hide something they did wrong, and they don't want you to see!   Perhaps they're just waiting on you to do something, and they're giving you time to figure out what that is. That could be a back scratch, a belly rub, a treat, going outside, or just a little playtime.   Here are a few other reasons:  ●	They feel comfortable sitting atop your chest ●	They want to get warm ●	Your dog is trying to tell you that he/she is sick or not feeling well ●	They just want to show you love and affection  Why Do Dogs Lay On You We must remember that our domesticated friends are truly pack animals at heart. When they lay on you, they are mimicking the behavior of their ancestors, the wolves. Wolves cuddle and lay on top of other pack members for warmth and security.   For them, it served as a function of survival. Though your dog doesn't need to do this to survive, that instinct is still there. This behavior is reinforced when puppies are born in their litter, and they sleep on top of each other.   From the first few moments of their lives, puppies begin to sleep in dog piles, which provides them with much-needed security and comfort. Typically, a domesticated dog will have 6 to 8 siblings snuggle up against it as they continue to grow and get older. And as they become fully mature, they carry on these learned habits with their human pack leaders.  From your dog's perspective, you're an active part of the pack. And since you're a part of the pack, your dog wants to lay on top of you and up against you. They do all of this to provide you with love and security, and they want to receive it in return. Furthermore, laying close to their owners gives them the best vantage point to protect who they love even though there may not be an imminent threat.  The other reason dogs will lay on you has to do with affection. Dog's tend to lay on or next to the people that they have developed a bond with. Allowing your beloved companion to lay on you is a great way to strengthen your bond through giving and receiving affection. Why Does My Dog Lay on Top of Me?  Laying on your chest may be one of your dog's favorite places to lay when it comes to you. This may have to do with the fact that feeling you breathe makes your dog feel close to you.   When your dog snuggles up with you, they are acknowledging that you are indeed a member of the pack. Cuddling is a sign of closeness, affection, and connection, and most of all it's a sign that your dog feels safe to be with you.   Snuggling is a continuation of the bonding process that began when you first brought your dog home. Your dog needs constant affirmation that you are there and present for them. How to Get Your Dog to Stop Laying on You Now that we've discussed all the reasons why your dog loves to lay on top of you, let's discuss what you can do about your dog laying on top of you if you rather that they didn't.  Ask the following question: What was happening right before your dog began laying on top of you?  It's important to note the difference between a dog that has been laying on you since they were a small puppy and a dog who developed the behavior later in their lives in maturity. Dog's that have had the behavior since a pup will have a harder time breaking the habit. Positive Reinforcement Training Dogs respond much better to positive reinforcement. In other words, yelling and swatting are not exactly the way you want to act towards your dog to get the best results. Instead, you should reward them for good behavior.   Start out trying to get your dog to sleep in its bed. Try to make them comfortable and give them attention when your dog manages to stay in their bed and reward them with treats. Final Thoughts The trick is not to hyper-focus on "why does my dog lay on me", and focus more on getting your dog to believe that sleeping in their spot is the best way to get access to your love and attention.   Moreover, remember that your dog is not trying to be rude or aggressive when they lay on you. Most likely they are seeking affection or acknowledging you as part of the family. If you change the way you look at the behavior it may help you when you go to change your dog's behavior for the better.

Your dog will lay on you to show their love, security, and comfort. Because dogs are affectionate animals that consider their owners to be family members and part of their pack so to speak, they tend to mark their territory.

So think of it this way, your dog feels like they are protecting and cherishing their loved one, even though there’s no danger in sight.

Related: Why Does My Dog Cuddle With Me And Not My Husband?

Dog Lays on Me: What It Means

Dogs are pretty intelligent beings. They know how to get what they want from their owners. Dog laying on you could mean the following:

  • Your dog wants your attention
  • He/She feels sad
  • He/She is bored
  • He/She is scared
  • Your dog feels like protecting you
  • Small puppies do this when they miss you and any siblings they may have
  • Separation anxiety
  • Your dog feels the safe position
  • They think you like it

It is a little tricky to figure out exactly what your dog is trying to say, as their intentions could also be sneaky. Aha, sometimes our sweet little mischievous companions could be trying to hide something they did wrong, and they don’t want you to see!

Perhaps they’re just waiting on you to do something, and they’re giving you time to figure out what that is. That could be a back scratch, a belly rub, a treat, going outside, or just a little playtime.

Here are a few other reasons:

  • They feel comfortable sitting atop your chest
  • They want to get warm
  • Your dog is trying to tell you that he/she is sick or not feeling well
  • They just want to show you love and affection
Dog lays on chest

How to Get Your Dog to Stop Laying on You

Now that we’ve discussed all the reasons why your dog loves to lay on top of you, let’s discuss what you can do about your dog laying on top of you if you rather that they didn’t.

Ask the following question: What was happening right before your dog began laying on top of you?

It’s important to note the difference between a dog that has been laying on you since they were a small puppy and a dog who developed the behavior later in their lives in maturity. Dog’s that have had the behavior since a pup will have a harder time breaking the habit.

Positive Reinforcement Training

Dogs respond much better to positive reinforcement. In other words, yelling and swatting are not exactly the way you want to act towards your dog to get the best results. Instead, you should reward them for good behavior.

Start out trying to get your dog to sleep in its bed. Try to make them comfortable and give them attention when your dog manages to stay in their bed and reward them with treats.

Final Thoughts

The trick is not to hyper-focus on “why your dog sleeps or lays on you”, and focus more on getting your dog to believe that sleeping in their spot is the best way to get access to your love and attention.

Moreover, remember that your dog is not trying to be rude or aggressive when they lay on you. Most likely they are seeking affection or acknowledging you as part of the family.

If you change the way you look at the behavior it may help you when you go to change your dog’s behavior for the better.

About Renee Whitmore
Renee Whitmore
Renee Whitmore is an American college professor and freelance writer from North Carolina. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English and a Master’s Degree in English Education. When she is not driving her teenage son to wrestling practice or learning the ins and outs of Fortnite from her younger son, she is working on her first book to be published soon.
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