If your dog keeps laying on you, this post will show you a number of reasons why it might be doing it and what you can do about it.

So, why does my dog lay on me? Possible reasons why your dog lays on you are that it wants attention from you, separation anxiety, you have inadvertently reinforced the behavior, you’re in its spot or that it is just being affectionate.

There are actually many reasons why your dog might be doing it but there are many things that you can consider to help figure out why. Once you have a good idea of the cause, it should become a lot easier to get it to stop if you want to.

Why your dog lays on you

Each of the different reasons why your dog lays on you will likely come with some clues in the way that it does it.

Below, I will show you a number of possible causes and what would make them more likely.

Attention

The reason why it does it could be that it is looking for attention. This would be more likely if you tend to give it extra attention or things such as belly rubs when it does it.

If you want to get it to stop it would help to give it attention throughout the day but to avoid rewarding it with attention when it tries to lay on you. It would also help to try to recognize when it is likely to try to do it and to redirect its focus onto something else.

Dominance

Many people jump to the conclusion that their dogs do it because they are trying to be dominant. However, the alpha/beta dynamic has been disproven in studies showing that wolves take turns in taking the lead.

With that being said, it could be doing it due to bullying behavior which would be more likely if it tries to get you to move and if it shows signs of aggression when doing it. In this case, it would help to avoid giving it reasons to feel threatened and to get it to learn to behave the way you want it to with training programs such as NLIF (Nothing in Life is Free) dog training.

You’re in its spot

The reason why it does it might be that it thinks that you are in its spot. This would be more likely if it only does it when you are sitting in a certain spot.

In this case, it would also be important to train it to sit or to lay down somewhere else so that it learns to behave the way you want it to a.

Spreading its scent

The reason why it does it might be that it is trying to spread its scent onto you so that other dogs are less likely to approach you. This would be more likely if it gets protective when you are around other animals.

Separation anxiety

It might be the case that it has separation anxiety if it tends to do it more when you are about to leave home.

Separation anxiety is where it does not like being left alone and the prospect of being left alone causes it to become anxious. If your dog tends to lay on you or at around the same time you leave for work and it shows signs of anxiety when you are leaving for work it would be more likely that it has separation anxiety.

In this case, you could try to train it to be less anxious when you are leaving home.

To do this you could do as follows:

  • Make it seem like you are about to leave by doing something such as picking up your keys
  • Reward your dog for not being anxious and repeat these two steps a few times
  • Make more moves towards actually leaving such as by picking up the keys and putting your hand on the door handle
  • Reward your dog for not being anxious and repeat the process a few times
  • Actually open the door and go outside for a few moments then come back and reward your dog
  • Repeat the above, each time staying outside for slightly longer

Reinforcing the behavior

It might be the case that you have trained it to do it by giving it things that it wants when it does it. If you tend to give it things such as extra attention, toys or treats when it lays on you then it might be doing it more in order to get more of those rewards.

Instead, it would help to reward it when it does not lay on you and to try to recognize when it is likely to do it and to redirect its focus onto something else such as laying down in a different area.

Guarding you

The reason why it does it might be that it is being protective. This would be more likely if it also becomes protective when you are around other people or animals.

It’s being affectionate

The reason that it lays on you could be that it is just being affectionate. This would be more likely if it also tries to get you to do things such as give it belly rubs when it does it.

Things to consider

When your dog started to lay on you

It would help to consider when your dog first started doing it since it could be the case that there was an event that caused it to start.

Some things to consider would be:

  • If you moved home
  • If someone else moved away
  • If its schedule changed
  • If you started working different hours

When and where your dog lays on you

It would also help to consider the timing of when your dog lays on you since it might be the case that the timing has something to do with it.

For example, if it tends to do it more when you would normally leave home it would be more likely to be due to separation anxiety.

How to get your dog to stop laying on you

Below are some options you have when getting your dog to stop laying on you.

Ignore it

Since your dog might be doing it for attention, one option would be to get it off you, to wait for it to calm down and then to sit back down. If it tries to lay on you again you would get it off you and wait again. Doing this should help to teach it that laying on you won’t result in it getting attention.

It would also help to recognize when it is likely to lay on you and to redirect its focus onto laying somewhere else with the use of positive reinforcement training.

Train it not to

You can also train your dog not to lay on you by teaching it to stay on the floor while you’re sat down. You can do this by getting it to sit or to lay down and then gradually teaching it to stay there over longer and longer time periods.

You can do this by applying the same techniques as in the video below:

Avoid negative reinforcement training

As mentioned above, it could be the case that you have reinforced the behavior by giving it things that it wants when it lays on you.

Instead, it would help to reward it when it does not do it and to follow the tips above to train it not to do it.

Give it attention

In addition to the above, it would also help to give it attention throughout the day in the form of exercise, play and by training it so that it is less likely to feel the need to get attention from you.

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I created and currently manage Pet Dog Owner, the website you can go to when you have questions about your dog's behavior. It is my hope that you find Pet Dog Owner to be a helpful resource. It is also my hope that it will help you to improve your relationship with your dog. You can read more about me and my website here.