If your dog sits next to you on the couch, you might be wondering why and what you can do about it. This post will show you a number of reasons why dogs do it and what you can do to get yours to stop.
So, why does my dog sit next to me on the couch? Possible reasons why your dog sits next to you on the couch are that it is looking for attention, it finds it comfortable on the couch, you have inadvertently encouraged the behavior by rewarding it or that it is waiting to get something from you.
Since there are a number of different possible causes, it would help to consider what would make each of them more likely. Once you have a good idea of the most likely cause, it should become easier for you to figure out what you should do about it.
Why your dog sits or lays next to you on the couch
Below are a number of common reasons why dogs do it and what would make them more likely to be the main reason.
It wants attention
The reason why it does it might be that it is trying to get extra attention from you. This would be more likely if it tends to do it more when you have not been giving it much attention, if it tries to make you give it attention when it sits next to you and if you tend to give it extra attention when it does it.
Instead, it would help to give it attention throughout the day by playing with it, training it and exercising it. However, it would help to avoid rewarding it with. attention when it behaves in a way that you do not want it to and to use positive reinforcement training to change its behavior.
It is being affectionate
The reason why it does it might just be that it is being affectionate. This would be more likely if it touches you when it sits next to you and if it gets you to pet it or rub its belly.
It finds it comfortable
It could be the case that it finds it comfortable on the couch. This would be more likely if it sits on a specific part of the couch and if it sits there even when you are not sitting on the couch yourself. In this case, it could help to give it another place to sit or lay down that is comfortable for it.
It is waiting for something from you
The reason why it does it might be that it is waiting to get something from you. This would be more likely to be the reason if it does it at around the same time that you would normally give it things such as food or a walk.
It makes it feel safer
Dogs evolved as pack animals so it is natural for them to want to be around other people and dogs in their pack. The reason why it always sits next to you could be that it makes it feel safer. This would be more likely if it doesn’t try to make you do things when it does it.
You have encouraged the behavior
It could be the case that it has learned that it gets rewards for sitting next to you. If you tend to give your dog things such as toys, treats or extra attention, when it sits next to you, it will likely do it more in order to get more rewards. Instead, it would help to reward it when it sits where you want it to and to try to redirect it to sit there when it is about to sit on the couch.
The cause might be that it has some separation anxiety and it wants to know when you are leaving. This would be more likely to be the cause if it tends to do it more at around the same time that you normally leave and if it becomes anxious when you are leaving.
It is unlikely to be due to dominance
Many people jump to the conclusion that their dogs sit high up 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 sit elsewhere and if it shows signs of aggression when it sits on the couch. 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.
Things to consider
Below are some things to consider when figuring out the main reason why your dog does it.
What else happened when your dog first started sitting next to you on the couch
If your dog did not always sit next to you on the couch, it would help to consider what else happened when it started doing it since it could be the case that there was an event that caused it to start.
If it started doing it suddenly it would be more likely to be due to things such as learning that it gets rewards when it does it, suddenly getting less attention or a change in its daily schedule.
Whereas, if it has always done it then it might be that it makes it feel safer but it could also be that it learned that it gets rewards when it does it.
What is different when your dog does not sit next to you on the couch
It would also help to consider the timing of when it sits next to you on the couch since it could be the case that the timing has something to do with it.
For example, if it tends to sit next to you when you would normally leave home then it would make it more likely that it does it because it has some separation anxiety.
What to do about your dog sitting next to you on the couch
If you want it to sit or lay somewhere else, below are some things you can do.
Train it to sit elsewhere
One option would be to train your dog to sit on command with the use of positive reinforcement training, in the area that you would like it to sit, then you could tell it to sit there a couple of times per day and reward it for doing so. By repeating the process, it should learn that sitting in that new location results in it getting rewards.
Give it another comfortable place to sit
It would also help to give it a comfortable area where it can sit or lay down. The area should be cool, quiet, not too bright and there should be space for it to lay down comfortably.
Avoid encouraging the behavior
As mentioned above, it might have learned that it gets rewards for sitting next to you. It would help to reward it when it behaves the way you want, to avoid rewarding it when it sits next to you and to try to redirect it to sit somewhere else when it is about to sit with you on the couch.
Reduce reasons why it might be anxious
As mentioned above, it could be the case that it was doing it due to having some separation anxiety. It would help to reduce how anxious it becomes, when you leave, by doing things such as exercising it, feeding it and letting it pee before you leave it for long time periods.
Give it a daily routine to get used to
Dogs generally like having a set schedule that they can follow. If you give your dog walks and food at random times, it will not know when you are going to give them to it and it will likely bother you more in order to get those things from you. Whereas, if you always feed and walk it at the same time, it will know when it can expect to get those things.