Why Do Dogs Sit On You? Best Guide for Beginners

As any dog owner knows, one of the most common behaviors exhibited by our furry companions is sitting on us. Whether it’s on our laps, at our feet, or even on our head, dogs seem to have a natural inclination to cozy up to their humans in this way. But have you ever wondered why your dog chooses to sit on you? In this article, we’ll explore the many reasons behind this behavior and provide some insight into what it means in terms of your dog’s communication, psychology, and biology.

Understanding Canine Behavior: The Science of Sitting on You

When it comes to understanding why dogs sit on us, it’s helpful to look at some of the science behind canine behavior. One of the primary reasons that dogs sit on their owners is that it creates a feeling of safety and security. From an evolutionary standpoint, dogs are social animals that have evolved to live in packs. By sitting on their owner, the dog is able to feel secure and protected in a social context, which helps to reduce anxiety and stress.

Another reason why dogs may sit on their owners is to assert dominance. In a pack, the alpha dog is often the one who sits on other pack members. By sitting on their owner, a dog may be trying to establish dominance and show that they are in charge. This behavior can be problematic if it becomes excessive or aggressive, and may require training to correct.

It’s also important to note that not all dogs sit on their owners. Some may prefer to sit next to their owner, or may not be interested in physical contact at all. This can be due to a variety of factors, including breed, personality, and past experiences. Understanding your individual dog’s behavior and preferences can help you build a stronger bond and create a more positive relationship.

The Evolutionary Reasons Behind Your Dog Sitting on You

In addition to feeling safe and secure, sitting on their human can also be an instinctual behavior for dogs that stems from their wild ancestors. In the wild, wolves often sit on one another as a form of affection and bonding. It’s possible that some domesticated breeds, such as lap dogs, have inherited this instinct to seek physical closeness with their owners.

How Dogs Communicate Through Body Language: The Sitting Position

Another reason that dogs may sit on their owners is to communicate through body language. Dogs use a wide range of physical signals to convey their emotions and intentions to others, and sitting is just one of these signals. When a dog sits on their owner, they may be indicating that they feel submissive or want attention. On the other hand, a dog that sits on a stranger may be signaling that they feel wary or uneasy around that person.

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It’s important to pay attention to other body language cues when interpreting a dog’s sitting position. For example, if a dog is sitting with their ears back and tail tucked, they may be feeling fearful or anxious. On the other hand, if a dog is sitting with their ears up and tail wagging, they may be feeling happy and excited. Understanding a dog’s body language can help prevent miscommunication and improve the relationship between dogs and their owners or other people they interact with.

The Biological Connection Between Dogs and Humans

Interestingly, there may also be a biological component to why dogs sit on their owners. Research has shown that when humans and dogs interact, their bodies release a hormone called oxytocin, which is associated with feelings of bonding and affection. This hormone release can occur simply from petting or cuddling with a dog, so it’s possible that sitting on their human creates a similar response in dogs. This biological connection could be another reason why dogs are so drawn to sitting on their owners.

In addition to the oxytocin release, studies have also found that dogs have the ability to read human emotions and respond accordingly. This means that when a human is feeling sad or stressed, a dog may instinctively sit on their owner as a way to provide comfort and support. This empathetic response is another example of the strong bond between dogs and humans, and may be another reason why dogs are such beloved companions.

Psychological Reasons Why Your Dog Chooses to Sit on You

From a psychological perspective, there could be a number of reasons why your dog chooses to sit on you. For example, it could be a learned behavior that they associate with positive outcomes, such as receiving attention or treats. Some dogs may also simply enjoy the physical closeness and warmth that comes from sitting on their human.

Another reason why dogs may choose to sit on their owners is due to their instinctual need for security and protection. Dogs are pack animals and in the wild, they would seek out the alpha of the pack for safety and comfort. By sitting on their owner, dogs may be seeking that same sense of security and protection.

What Your Dog’s Breed Tells About Their Sitting Habits

Interestingly, the breed of your dog can also provide some insight into their sitting habits. Lap dogs and toy breeds, for example, are known for being particularly fond of sitting on their owners. These breeds were often bred specifically to enjoy human companionship and attention, so it makes sense that they would seek out close physical contact.

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On the other hand, larger breeds such as Great Danes and Mastiffs may prefer to sit next to their owners rather than on them. This is because their size can make it uncomfortable or even painful for their owners to have them sitting on their laps for extended periods of time. Additionally, some breeds such as Greyhounds and Whippets may have a more independent nature and prefer to sit alone rather than with their owners.

Training Tips for Discouraging Your Dog from Sitting on You

While sitting on their owner is certainly a natural behavior for dogs, it can sometimes become excessive or unwanted. If you’re looking to discourage your dog from sitting on you, there are a few training tips that can be helpful. One option is to teach your dog a “place” command, which can teach them to go to a designated spot instead of sitting on you. Additionally, positive reinforcement training can be highly effective in encouraging other desirable behaviors, such as lying down or playing with toys instead of sitting on their human.

It’s important to note that some dogs may sit on their owners as a way to seek attention or affection. In these cases, it’s important to provide your dog with plenty of positive attention and affection when they exhibit desirable behaviors, such as sitting calmly beside you. Consistency and patience are key when training your dog to break unwanted habits, and it’s important to avoid punishing or scolding your dog for unwanted behaviors, as this can lead to fear and anxiety.

When to Be Concerned: Medical Reasons for Excessive Sitting on You

Finally, it’s worth noting that excessive sitting on their owner could be a sign of an underlying medical issue. Dogs that suddenly start sitting on their owner more often than usual or without explanation may be experiencing pain or discomfort, such as arthritis or a urinary tract infection. If you’re concerned about your dog’s sitting behavior, it’s always a good idea to speak with your veterinarian to rule out any potential medical issues.

Additionally, excessive sitting on their owner could also be a sign of anxiety or stress in dogs. Dogs that are feeling anxious or stressed may seek comfort and security by sitting close to their owner. This behavior may be accompanied by other signs of anxiety, such as panting, pacing, or whining. If you suspect that your dog is experiencing anxiety or stress, it’s important to address the underlying cause and provide them with the necessary support and training to help them feel more comfortable and secure.

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Alternatives to Sitting: How to Bond with Your Dog in Other ways

While sitting on their owner can be a wonderful way for dogs to bond with their humans, it’s not the only way to build a strong connection. Other activities, such as going for walks, playing games together, or engaging in obedience training, can all be effective ways to build trust and strengthen your relationship with your dog. By understanding your dog’s unique needs and preferences, you can find the activities that are most enjoyable and rewarding for both of you.

One great way to bond with your dog is through outdoor activities. Taking your dog on hikes, camping trips, or even just to the park can provide them with new experiences and opportunities to explore. This can also help to build their confidence and trust in you as their owner.

Another way to bond with your dog is through grooming and physical touch. Regularly brushing your dog’s fur, giving them massages, or even just cuddling with them can all help to strengthen your bond. This can also be a great way to relax and de-stress for both you and your furry friend.


As we’ve explored in this article, there are many reasons why dogs may choose to sit on their owners, including evolutionary, biological, and psychological factors. While excessive sitting can sometimes be unwanted, this behavior can also be an important way for dogs to feel secure and bond with their humans. By understanding your dog’s unique needs and behaviors, you can better communicate and build a stronger, more fulfilling relationship together.

It’s important to note that not all dogs will exhibit this behavior, and some may prefer other forms of physical affection or bonding. Additionally, it’s important to establish boundaries and train your dog to understand when sitting on you is appropriate and when it’s not. Consistency and positive reinforcement can go a long way in shaping your dog’s behavior.

Finally, if you’re concerned about your dog’s excessive sitting or any other behavior, it’s always a good idea to consult with a veterinarian or professional dog trainer. They can provide personalized advice and guidance to help you and your furry friend live your best lives together.

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