Why Does My Dog Lay On Me?

If you’ve been searching for “my dog sleeps on me” or “why does my dog lay on me,” you may be feeling lost trying to understand your dog’s behavior. We all love our canine companions. However, if your dog has been laying on you or right against you a lot recently, it may be feeling like a bit too much. So, what does it mean when a dog lays on you? Continue reading! We’ll share whether you should be concerned about your dog’s behavior. We’ll also share some steps you can take to stop your dog from laying on you so much.

why does my dog lay on top of me

What Does it Mean When Your Dog Lays on You?

Our dogs sometimes do strange things.  Just as it can be difficult to know what it means when a dog licks you, you may also be puzzled about what it means when your dog lays on you.  “Why does my dog like to lay on me” is a common question; you’re not alone.

However, while the question about why do dogs like to lay on you is common and may seem pretty simple, the answer is not so straightforward.  There are actually many possible reasons why your dog is laying on you.

Every dog is different; discovering the reason why your dog likes to lay on you may take some time.  Read through the list of possible explanations below to see if one resonates with you.  If you are concerned that your dog’s desire to lay on you is tied to a more serious medical condition, be sure to schedule an appointment with their veterinarian.

Seeking Safety and Security

One reason your dog may be looking to lay on you is for safety. They may see you as a safe and secure place.  If your dog tends to lay on you most during times when there are loud or scary things happening around them, then it is likely that they are looking to you to provide comfort and security.  

Dogs have much more sensitive hearing than humans.  They also, obviously, don’t have the understanding we have about what different sounds mean. 

Some louder sounds that may cause your dog to seek safety by laying on you include:

  • Fireworks
  • Shouting
  • Loud music
  • Loud trucks or construction vehicles outside
  • Blenders or other loud kitchen appliances
  • Hammering or drilling
  • A car outside backfiring
dog lying down

Showing Love and Acceptance

When you’re wondering why do dogs lay on top of you, one possible reason may surprise you.  Just as licking your feet can be a sign of respect, so too can laying on top of you.  A dog’s behavior when laying on you as a sign of respect will look different than their behavior laying on you for other reasons.  Dogs will be acting much more calmly and will seem relaxed and happy. 

Some indicators to look for include:

  • A still or very slowly wagging tail
  • Relaxed ears
  • Head laying down on you
  • Eyes closed or mostly closed
  • Slow breathing
  • Sleeping or snoring
  • Twitching or dreaming 

Instincts

Your dog’s instincts may also be the reason why your dog is laying on top of you. 

Instincts are a dog’s traits that are tied to their genes.  When thinking about instincts, it is important to remember that dogs evolved from wolves.  This genetic history means that many dogs are very territorial.

If your dog is laying on you, it may be due to their instincts and wanting to defend their territory (you).  Some dog breeds are more territorial than others.  Generally speaking, many smaller dogs are more territorial than larger dogs.  However, some larger dogs can also be quite territorial as well.

Anxiety

If you’ve been asking, “why does my dog lay on top of me,” or “why is my dog sleeping on me,” anxiety or stress could be to blame. 

One type of anxiety in dogs is separation anxiety.  Some dogs become overly anxious, or even destructive, when they are left home alone.  If you notice that the times when your dog tends to lay on top of you correspond with when you have just returned from being out, it could be because they have separation anxiety.

If your dog was a rescue and you don’t know his full history, it is also possible that he suffered some form of trauma in a past home or animal shelter.  Just as humans who have gone through traumatic experiences can develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), so can dogs.  They may be laying on you to find some comfort when they’re feeling especially anxious or nervous.

If you think any type of anxiety is the cause for your dog’s behavior of laying on you, you will want to schedule an appointment with their veterinarian right away.  The vet can work with you to diagnose the anxiety.  They may also prescribe medications to help your dog feel less anxious.

Trying to Stay Warm

Asking, “why does my dog lay against me?”  The answer may be as simple as your dog is looking to stay warm.  Do you notice that your dog tends to lay on you more during the cooler seasons or overnight? If so, they may be trying to use your body heat to stay warm.  

If you think your dog is lying against you to stay warm, it likely doesn’t mean anything is wrong.  In most cases, they are just looking to snuggle.  This may be especially true if you have a short-haired dog or you just gave your pup a haircut.  However, if your dog seems to be shivering or shaking when they’re laying against you, it could indicate illness, and you will want to bring them to the veterinarian.

dog with owner in bed

You Have Previously Given Them Positive Reinforcement

Why does my dog lay on my back is another question some dog owners ask.  The way you’ve acted in the past when your dog has laid on you can make them more likely to try to do it again.  

If you have given your dog lots of positive attention or affection when they have come to cuddle up with you in the past, they’re more likely to try to do it again.  They will associate the positive attention with the behavior of laying on you.  This will make them think that if they continue to lay on you, then they’ll keep getting more positive attention.

You may need to work to give your dog a lot of positive attention to undo their behavior. Focus your positive attention on the times when they are not trying to lay on you.

Seeking Attention

Your dog may also be looking for some attention. If they see you sitting or laying on the couch or bed, they might decide to go over to you to ask for some love.  However, the way they choose to ask for love and petting may not be what you would have in mind. They may choose to lay on you, rather than standing or sitting next to you.

Other signs that your dog is looking for attention include:

  • Licking
  • Poking
  • Pawing
  • Barking
  • Putting their head near your head
  • Stealing your belonging
  • Acting restless

If you notice any of these signs, look for more opportunities to give your dog the attention they’re looking for.  Take them out for longer walks, play with them, and schedule some love and cuddle sessions.

dog sleeps on me

Detecting Illness

What does it mean when my dog lays on me?  While it is rarer, sometimes the answer to “why dog lays on me” is that they can sense that you have some type of illness. 

There have been times that dogs have started laying on their owners or acting strange in other ways shortly before they were diagnosed with cancer, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, or another illness.

Scientists believe that some dogs are able to detect these illnesses due to the way they change their owner’s scent.  If your dog has developed a very deep bond with you, and you become ill with something, they may notice that something is different about the way you smell.  This can cause them to lay on top of you to try to tell you that something is wrong.

Similarly, there are also some dogs that can sense when their owner is about to have a seizure.  Some service dogs are trained in this to help alert their owner. This gives them time to get to a safe spot before the seizure starts.  There have also been anecdotal reports of dogs who have started laying on a woman’s stomach right before she discovers that she is pregnant.

When to Discourage a Dog From Laying on You

In most cases, there is nothing really wrong with letting your dog lay on you.  However, there are a few exceptions to this.  Additionally, some people don’t enjoy the closeness and physical touch of a dog laying on them. Others find that their dog does it too much that it becomes annoying or interferes with other things they need to do.

If you feel uncomfortable with your dog lying on you find that they are doing so excessively and preventing you from doing other things, then it is certainly OK to discourage the behavior.  A few other reasons you may want to work to get your dog to stop laying on you include:

  • If your dog is acting aggressively towards you or seems to be trying to lay on you to show that they are dominating you.
  • When your dog doesn’t seem to be acting normal, sounds like they are having trouble breathing, or appear like they have some other illness that may need medical treatment.
  • If your dog seems to lay on you to seek comfort from something stressful that is causing them anxiety.

If you believe any of the reasons listed above are the answer to your question, “why does my dog always lay on me,” then you should contact your veterinarian.  Aggressive behavior, anxiety, and other health concerns should all be treated by a veterinarian.  The treatment will hopefully get to the underlying cause of your dog’s behavior to help both of you feel better.

Getting Your Dog to Lay Somewhere Else

If you constantly find yourself searching for “dog sleeps on top of me,” you may be looking for a solution to help your dog learn to lay somewhere else some or all of the time.  Use the tips in the next section to help you encourage your dog to find a new spot to rest.

Tips to Stop Your Dog From Laying on You

Saying “my dog lays on me all the time” is an indication that you need to do something to keep your dog off.  If your dog hasn’t been trained, seeking out a training and obedience class may need to be our first step.  Teaching your dog to respond to your commands can go a long way in getting them to listen to get off of you when asked.

If your dog has already completed a training class, then you may just need to find the right commands to use to get them to stop laying on you.  You should pick one word/command and use it consistently along with gently pushing your dog off.  It may take your dog some time to understand what you mean, but with time and consistency, they’ll soon understand what the command means and what they should do when you say it. 

Here are a few different commands/ideas to try with your dog:

  • Pointing towards the ground while saying off.
  • Saying “no” when your dog lays on you.
  • Placing a treat on the floor or dog bed to try to get your dog to move themselves.
  • Picking up and moving a dog (if possible based on size) to a preferred location for sleep (such as their dog bed).
  • Patting on the sofa or bed next to you to encourage your dog to move off of you, but still stay close.

As with any other types of training, be sure to give your dog positive reinforcement when they do follow your command and get down.  This may be in the form of a treat or some extra love and attention.

dog in human's arms

Why Do Dogs Lay On You – Last Word

“Why does my dog lay on me” is a question many pet owners have.  As we shared above, there are many possible reasons why your dog lays on you, from being anxious to showing their love for you to trying to stay warm.  Hopefully now that you understand why dogs lay on you, you’ve found some answers to your questions. 

Remember, if you ever have any concerns, your dog’s veterinarian can be a great resource in helping you further answer the question, “why does my dog want to lay on me?”

FAQs

Is it OK to let your dog lay on you?

Yes, as long as you’re comfortable with your dog laying on you, it is fine to let them do so.  If you prefer that they not lay on you, or not lay on you at certain times, you’ll need to train them to stay off or get down at your command.

Why does my dog push against me in bed?

If you’ve been searching for “dog sleeps on me or pushes up against me in bed,” there are a few possible reasons that may explain this behavior.  These include your dog trying to get warm and comfortable, trying to protect you, staying close to feel secure, or even showing you affection.

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