What Does my Dog’s Sitting Position Mean? Your Complete Guide


Have you noticed your dog sits differently from that other dogs? Studies have found that the way in which your dog sits can actually reveal a lot about their health and happiness. Just like humans, you can tell a lot about a dog from the body language they display. Analyzing your dogs sitting position is an excellent way to gain a deeper perspective of the health, feelings, and even the thoughts that your dog is experiencing.

This post is a full guide on all the different ways that dogs usually sit, and the meaning behind why their sitting position is like that.

Table of Contents

What Should I Look For In The Way My Dog Sits?

The way that your dog sits can be a positive sign.

For example, it may mean they are trying to form a deeper bond with you.

Otherwise, it may be a sign they have some underlying health conditions. This can be quite dependent on age.

If puppies sit sloppily with outward splaying limbs, this is completely normal because of their flexible limbs.

Older dogs using this sitting position may be a cause for concern and may be worth checking with a vet.

It may be caused by an underlying health condition, either sudden or has gradually come on over the years, which I’ve explained in further detail below.

dog sitting on chair

Dog Sitting Position Meaning

The Puppy Sitting Position

Also known as the frog sit, sloppy sit, or lazy sit, this is known as the puppy sit because younger dogs sit this way the most. You’ll recognize it as the floppy way young puppies sit because of their very flexible joints.

puppy sit

If you see your older dog in this sitting position and haven’t sat like this in the past, then this may be worth getting checked out.

The cause for concern here could be due to a number of reasons:

  • Arthritis
  • Joint pain and stiffness
  • Spine pain
  • Inflammation of muscles

They may be in this sitting position to relieve some of the symptoms of pain in their back, joints, or muscles. If you begin to notice the early warning sign of them sitting in a different way, make sure to look for some other changed behaviors.

There are two other common, yet very serious conditions that would cause a dog to sit in different ways, which I have listed below and is important to get diagnosed as early as possible to alleviate their symptoms.

Hip Dysplasia

While hip dysplasia will begin in puppyhood, dogs may not display clinical symptoms until they are older. It will often take years of gradual bone degeneration before a dog becomes symptomatic.

The inflammation causes pain in their hip joints, resulting in dogs changing the way they sit to relieve the symptoms, or their gait may change when walking, or how they move in general.

Torn cruciate ligament

If your dog has torn their cruciate ligament, they will refrain from extending or stretching their sore leg, resulting in them sitting in this way also.

You will also notice a change in the way they walk and will appear lame, so watch out for this too.

Dogs Sitting Like Humans

It can be quite humorous to see our doing sitting like humans do, or engaging in human-like activities! When their actions like this are met with laughter and adoration, this is seen as positive reinforcement which will probably cause them to repeatedly sit like this.

Some larger dog breeds who have longer legs may find this way easier to sit, or have realised that sitting like this takes some of the pressure off their lower spine.

You can be proactive by observing them as they move about, and if you see them getting up or walking in a stiff manner, then maybe there might be something wrong.

If they have no other symptoms, then this way of sitting isn’t much to worry about and they could just be imitating the way that you sit.

The Straight Sit

The straight sit can be recognized by an elongated spine sitting upwards and symmetrically with a knee on either side and their feet underneath them. In this position, your dog has a straight spine which is very good for their posture.

The straight sit is actually a good way for your dog to sit and is often taught to puppies when they are young. This way of sitting is good practice for them to prevent back pain or other issues I’ve previously mentioned in later life.

Like humans, dogs benefit hugely from practicing good posture. If your dog sits with a straight sit, they are showing signs of a healthy spine with good posture.

This is why obedience schools always use this position for dogs to sit in.

Dogs Sitting By your Feet

Let’s not forget that dogs are pack animals and like to spend time with their favorites. Your dog will view you as their role model and leader, and the resting spot that you choose, in their eyes, is the one for the pack.

So naturally, they are going to stay close, and even snuggle close to you to get your attention.

If your dog is sitting at your feet, they are using this as a sign of bonding, and want to stay close to you. They could also be asking for pets.

While some dog owners may view this as frustrating and an invasion of personal space, this position is nothing to worry about as they’re just showing their love for you.

What Does My Dog’s Sitting Position Mean? The Complete Guide To Why

Dogs Sitting by Your Face

If you find your dog trying to sit their rear on your face, this means that they are trying to scent mark. They would like to claim you to be a part of their pack. This odd type of cuddling is just a sign that your dog wants to be close to you.

While this can sometimes mean dominance, it is quite unlikely this is what is meant. Most cases will find that your dog is just trying to form a closer bond with you.

This may also be a way that your dog is trying to get a reaction from you by engaging in some strange behavior. If you are wanting your dog to quit this behavior, you need to communicate that this behavior is not acceptable. Make sure you do not encourage them to do it again in the future.

This can also be avoided by ensuring your dog has a comfortable dog bed with cozy blankets This will then reduce your dog’s need to cuddle with you or sleep on top of you.

dog by person's head

Your Dog Sitting on Other Dogs

There is two reasons why your dog will sit on or cuddle other dogs, which are either dominance or play. While you might think that this need to assert dominance is a personality trait of your dog, it is in fact natural instinct. In cases like this, when referring to dominance it is actually just the social relationship in which dogs have with each other.

These signs of dominance may be displayed by putting their paw or head on top of another dogs back. This can also be observed as your dog trying to sit on another dog’s head.

This could also be meant as a playful gesture. If both dogs seem relaxed and comfortable then this is nothing to worry about. Dogs can end up sitting in a variety of different positions, particularly when they are playing.

dogs sitting together

What Does my Dog Sleeping Position Mean?

Speaking of dog positions, let’s quickly cover dog sleeping positions, too.

Sleeping patterns of dogs can be determined by your dog’s lineage. This is common to all breeds, but may have a different meaning depending on your dog’s situation.

Below is a list of the most common sleeping positions:

Lions Pose

If your dog is sleeping with their front two paws outstretched and their head resting on or between their paws, then they are sleeping in lions pose. This is typical of a dog who is resting and has not entered a deep sleep.

What Does My Dog’s Sitting Position Mean? The Complete Guide To Why


This sleeping pose is easier for smaller dogs to do. Bigger dog’s joints cant really accommodate this position very well. This is when they lie on their stomach and stretch their legs out in front and behind. This is similar to a superman flying through the air.

This position allows relaxed dogs to stretch out in a comfortable manner.

lions pose sleep

Curled Up in a Ball

Some dogs just prefer to sleep like this. If they’re sleeping in this way, it may be because the temperature is a little low. They’re likely curled up into themselves for more heat.

It could also be that your dog is trying to make themselves as small as possible for safety reasons. This is a common sleeping position of dogs who are in shelters.

curled up into a ball sleeping

Side Sleeping

If your dog lies on their side with their legs outstretched, this means that they are comfortable in its surroundings.

This position makes them vulnerable. So if they had any concerns about where they were, they would not be lying in this relaxed position.

dog sleeping on back

Dog sitting position meaning: Sitting and sleeping positioned explained

The way in which your dog sleeps and sits is a good indicator of their state of mind and emotional well-being. A vigilant pet parent will use these as a good early warning sign for more sinister complications of their dogs health.

This is particularly useful for dog breeds that are more prone to having issues with their joints. If you notice some of these signs, it would be well worth contacting your veterinarian. Better to double check they’ve not got an underlying condition!

Dog sitting position meaning – FAQs

Why does my dog sit with his legs to the side?

If your dog sits with their hind legs sideways, as opposed to having its legs under its hips, it is considered puppy sitting or sloppy sitting. While this is not a problem for younger dogs because they have flexible limbs, older dogs should sit more straight up. Sitting in this sloppy manner can indicate numerous problems.

What does my dog sitting position mean?

The best position for your dog to sit in is when they sit squarely with a straight spine. They will have a knee on either side and their feet underneath their knees, in a symmetrical way.