If your dog won’t stop sitting on you, this post will show you why and what you can do about it.
So, why does my dog sit on me? Possible reasons are that it wants attention, is bored, has separation anxiety or you might have inadvertently rewarded the behavior.
There are a number of nuances that you can consider when trying to understand why your dog sits on you. Once you have a good idea of why it is doing it, you’ll be able to get it to stop more easily.
Why your dog sits on you
Each of the different reasons that your dog sits on you will likely come with a number of clues in the way that it does it.
Below, I will mention a number of reasons why it might be doing it and what would make them more likely.
It wants attention
The reason why your dog sits on you could be that it is looking for attention. This would be more likely to be the reason if you tend to give it more attention when it sits on you and if it does it more when you have not been giving it attention.
Instead, it would help to give it attention throughout the day in the form of exercise, training and play. It would also help to avoid rewarding it with attention when it tries to sit on you and to train it to sit somewhere else.
The reason why it does it might be because it is bored. The reason why it gets bored could be that it is not getting the recommended amount of exercise for its breed. This would be more likely if it does it more when it has not gotten much exercise.
In this case, it would help to make sure that it is getting the right amount of exercise. You could also try giving it things to be distracted with such as toys, bones and puzzles for dogs.
You have inadvertently rewarded it
The reason why it does it might be that you have inadvertently rewarded the behavior. This would be more likely if you tend to give it things that it wants when it sits on you such as toys, attention or treats.
It is unlikely to be dominance
Many people jump to the conclusion that their dogs sit on them because the dogs 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 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.
It might be the case that your dog has some separation anxiety. This is where it does not like being left alone and the prospect of being left alone causes it to get anxious. This would be more likely if it sits on you when you would normally go out. It would also be more likely if it shows signs of being anxious when you’re leaving such as pacing or crying.
You’re in its spot
If it only sits on you when you are sitting in a certain place then it might be doing it because it thinks that the spot belongs to it. In this case, it would be important to train it to sit somewhere else when you are there so that it continues to see you as the leader.
Things to consider
Below, I will mention some particularly helpful things to consider when trying to figure out why your dog sits on you. Once you have a better idea of the cause it will be easier to take the appropriate action.
When it started sitting on you
The timing of when it first started sitting on you would be helpful to consider.
If it started doing it suddenly then it could be that something triggered it to start doing it. Things that might have happened could include:
- You rewarded it for sitting with you once
- You started working longer hours
- It stopped getting as much exercise
When it does it
The timing of when it does it could also give you some clues as to why it does it.
If it does it when you would normally give it attention then it could be that it has learned to come and sit on you to get attention at that time. Whereas, if it does it when it would normally get exercise then it might be trying to get you to give it exercise.
How to get your dog to stop sitting on you
There are a number of things that you can do about your dog sitting on you. The best option for your dog will largely depend on the cause of it doing it.
Below, I will mention a number of things that you can do about it.
Train it not to
You can train your dog not to sit on you by teaching it to stay on the floor when 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. I have written about how you can teach your dog the “down” command here.
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 been inadvertently training it to sit on you.
Instead of giving it things that it wants, when it sits on you, it would help to train it to sit somewhere else and to reward it when it is being well behaved.
Give it attention throughout the day
Since it might be doing it because it wants to get attention from you, it would help to give it attention throughout the day. You can do this by exercising it, training it and playing with it.
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