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Why Does My Dog Lay on Me? 10 Reasons for This Behavior

Gregory Iacono

By Gregory Iacono

dachshund dog looks sick lying on its owner

If you’ve been around dogs long enough, you know they have interesting traits and habits. Dogs sniff each other’s posteriors, for example, when they first meet. Dogs also walk around in a circle or two before laying down to sleep, have the “zoomies,” and love rolling around in stinky garbage.

One behavior they also display is to lay on their owner, whether on their chest, legs, or some other body part. Indeed, dogs do this so much that most owners barely give it a second thought. But the question remains, why does your dog lay on you? Below are 10 reasons for this interesting and ubiquitous behavior, some of which might surprise you!


The 10 Possible Reasons Your Dog Lays on You

1. Your Dog Feels Affection Toward You

This first reason your dog is laying on you might be the best. It’s because your dog feels affection toward you and wants to be closer to you. Your dog can feel your body, smell your scent, and feel your lungs as they rise and fall with every breath. It means you’ve done a wonderful job as a pet parent, and your dog trusts you 100%.

shiba inu dog sleeping in his owners lap
Image Credit: Elena Shvetsova, Shutterstock

2. Your Canine Companion Is Jealous of Something or Someone

If you tend to give more attention to one of your other pets, and your dog is sensitive, they’re bound to notice it. When they do, it’s possible your dog will become jealous, and a jealous dog will want to stay close to you and try to get more attention than their animal siblings. Although it might not be easy, it’s best to give equal attention to every pet under your roof.

3. Your Hound Is Reminding You They’re Hungry

One of the most popular reasons for a dog to lay on their owner is to let them know they’re hungry and want food. This is especially true if your dog has laid on you before to remind you to feed them, and you have, which lets them know it’s a great way to get fed. The same thing can be said for treats. If your dog realizes that laying on you leads to getting a treat, they will likely do it often, especially if they’re highly food driven.

beagle dog lying on his owners feet
Image Credit: Soloviova Liudmyla, Shutterstock

4. Your Dog Is Anxious or Scared

Depending on your dog, they may lay on you when they feel anxious or scared. This is truer for rescue dogs and dogs adopted from shelters than those adopted as puppies. Most dogs adopted as puppies feel much less anxiety or fear if raised in a loving, caring, and compassionate home. Sadly, many dogs adopted from shelters or rescues have been abused and feel anxiety or fear regularly because of that abuse. When they do, if your dog knows they can trust you, laying on you is a great way to relieve both of those emotions.

5. Your Dog Is Laying on You to Protect You

For thousands of years, dogs have been human protectors, either by providing protection to people or protecting their animals, including cows, sheep, and others. Some breeds are incredibly protective, including the Cane Corso, Rottweiler, German Shepherd, and Great Dane.

When these dogs, and any dog closely bonded to their human, want to protect you, they will lay on you. It’s their way of putting their body between yours and any danger that might exist. That could be anything from a stranger entering your home to loud noises outside.

sleeping with dog pug
Image Credit: Burst, Pexels

6. You’re Experiencing Heavy Emotions, and Your Dog Feels It

One of the reasons we love dogs so much is that they have an innate ability to know when we’re happy, sad, anxious, or going through a wide range of other emotions. Some of the most sensitive dogs can instantly tell when their pet parent is “not right” and needs care and support. When they do, they often lay on their owners to provide that support.

7. Your Dog Is Trying to Keep Warm

If you live in an area of the United States where it gets cold in winter, don’t be surprised if your dog decides to lay on top of you for warmth. Most of the time, your dog will do that in the morning before you turn up the heat or at night after you turn it back down. Rainy days are also popular days for dogs to lay on their owners to stay warm and dry. If you notice that your dog isn’t sleeping in their bed and would rather curl up with you, you might want to place an extra blanket down for them.

Dachshund dog laying in the bed
Image Credit: AnnyStudio, Shutterstock

8 Attention Is Your Dog’s Ultimate Goal

Dogs love getting attention from their pet parents and will do anything to get it. Some dogs will lie on you to let you know they want to engage with you and go for a walk, play, fetch, or get a good head scratch.

9. Your Dog Is Still a Puppy

The last reason your dog might be laying on you is simply that, as puppies, all dogs are used to lying around with their littermates. It is common for all puppies to lay on each other since the average dog litter is 5 to 6 puppies.

Little girl sleeping with dog in bed
Image credit: Yuliya Evstratenko, Shutterstock

10. Your Dog Has Separation Anxiety

Dogs with a high level of separation anxiety will often lay on their owners. This helps deal with their anxiety but is also a crafty way of making sure their owner can’t leave. If you’ve got a small dog, it won’t be a big problem, but with a bigger dog, you might have some trouble getting them off of you, especially if they hate it when you leave the house!

Divider-Dog- New

Final Thoughts

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, there are several reasons why your dog might be laying on you. Most of them are not cause for concern and may even be cause for joy and excitement. For example, if your dog is laying on you because they‘re protecting you or has great affection for you, that’s fantastic!

They might also be anxious or scared and need your support or be hungry and remind you it’s dinnertime. Whatever the reason they do it, you can rest assured that if your dog is laying on you, they trust you implicitly and know that you’re a caring and compassionate person.

Featured Image Credit: Leka Sergeeva, Shutterstock

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