Dogs are affectionate creatures and can get very close to their owners with time. But you might sometimes wonder “why does my dog lay on me?”.
If you notice your dog laying on you frequently, the usual reason is to show affection and strengthen your bond. It may also do that if it feels anxious or protective of you. But there are many other reasons for this common behavior.
- How Humans And Dogs Bond
- Why Does My Dog Like To Lay On Top Of Me?
- Preventing The Dog From Laying On You
- Pet-Owner Emotional Benefits
- Which Dog Breeds Like Laying On Their Owners?
How Humans And Dogs Bond
Humans and dogs have lived and loved each other for thousands of years. In fact, some evidence suggests they’ve been together for around 14.000 years. Looking at the genes of dogs, certain genes for hyper-sociability can be found. So it’s no wonder your dog cuddles with you so often.
Scientists proved that by looking into the eyes of our dogs, we activate a hormonal response that usually activates when we look into the eyes of infants. Concretely, they noticed increased oxytocin levels in both the dog and the owner when they looked into each other’s eyes. This may have been one of the leading reasons why humans and dogs bonded so well.
What Is A Healthy Dog-Human Emotional Connection
To achieve a healthy relationship with your dog, you first have to have personalities that match. People who are agreeable, open, empathetic, and conscientious fit well with affectionate, intelligent, and agreeable dogs. Energetic people should find energetic dogs that will keep up with their energy throughout the day.
There should be mutual trust between the dog and the owner. When a dog trusts its owner, it will be relaxed and comfortable in its vicinity. The dog will wag its tail, with its mouth slightly open, and mouth lolling out of the mouth. If the dog snuggles on you and rolls on its back for belly rubs it also shows trust.
When the bond between the dog and you is weak, it will show indifference to you and not follow your commands. It will also avoid eye contact with you, act aggressively, or try to run off.
Why Does My Dog Like To Lay On Top Of Me?
One of the main reasons why dogs lay on top of their owners is to show affection and seek comfort. They may feel anxious or want attention from their owners, or want to communicate something. There are many other reasons for this behavior.
They Are Pack Animals
The main reason why your dog naps on you is because of its nature. Dogs are descendants of wolves who have a pack mentality and tend to stay together with their packs as they rest. They are born in a litter and sleep together from the first days of their lives.
So it shouldn’t be weird if your dog comes and cuddles up next to you to sleep. It recognizes you as a member of its pack and wants to be around you when it rests.
Seeking Comfort, Warmth, And Attention
There’s a reason why we, humans, sleep on nice beds, and that is because they are comfortable. Dogs do the same thing and sleep on you because they find it comfortable. You will also feel warm to the dog, so providing warmth will make it even more comfortable for it to sleep on you.
Besides the comforting pet behavior, when dogs lay on you, they might need your attention. Sometimes, the dog will jump on you, bark, or nip at your feet to get your attention.
When your dog curls up with you, it might be experiencing separation anxiety. Dogs develop this condition whenever they are left home alone for too long. Besides becoming clingy with you, the dog will show other symptoms. These include:
- Becoming destructive and destroying furniture
- Excessive barking, whining and crying
- Pooping and peeing everywhere
- Licking the coat and skin excessively
If dogs experience this, it might be a serious issue. You can avoid leaving the dog alone for too long. But you should also consult a vet for help.
Because dogs have a pack mentality, they tend to protect every member of their pack. If you find your dog sleeping on you, be sure that it will protect you if an intruder enters the home. Being on top of you gives it the sense that it is guarding you at all times. But the dog will also feel safer being around you because it trusts you will protect it as well.
Some dogs will be less protective than others. For example, Huskies aren’t the best guard dogs even though they will sleep around you.
Reinforcing The Behavior
You might be reacting improperly whenever your dog lies next to you and you don’t feel like doing that. Sometimes, dogs will sit on your leg and cut off your circulation due to their weight. This would be uncomfortable for you and require fixing.
Whenever you lay down and your dog comes lying on top of you, you might react by giving it a hug or a kiss. This will signal the dog that you like it when it lays on you and accept it as a reward. Therefore, it will be sure to repeat it again.
Dogs are intelligent animals and want to communicate with their owners. But they are unable to talk and try to communicate by doing other things like lying next to you. You might have heard that Huskies can talk, but this is only a sound-mimicking thing rather than actual communication.
If your dog wants to play with you or go for a walk, instead of talking, it will lay on top of you and give you a sign of its intention. The same may be done if it’s asking for food, or wanting to go potty.
When your dog sleeps on you, it may consider you to belong to it and it is protective of its resources. Once someone comes close to its possession, it might act out in aggression. This is referred to as resource guarding and can be a serious issue for you and your pet.
By guarding you, the dog will feel anxious whenever other people or pets come close to you. This will create tension and might result in the dog attacking and even biting the person.
Detecting An Illness
There have been situations where dogs detect illnesses in humans. Once a dog develops a strong bond with its owner, it can sense disease through the smell of its owner. Diseases like cancer, diabetes, seizures, and malaria are such possible diseases.
That said, don’t worry too much if your dog lays on you. Many other reasons can cause this behavior. Instead, if you feel any symptoms, it is best to ask your doctor for advice. Dogs can also lay on you to try and calm you down if you feel anxious or sad.
Preventing The Dog From Laying On You
This behavior can be a problem if the dog is too heavy. For example, Blue Heelers are medium-sized dogs and can be heavy for smaller people. But an even larger dog can be a serious problem. If it bothers you when your dog rests on you, you have to work on preventing the behavior. And there are a few things you can do to achieve that.
Don’t Encourage The Behavior
Petting and hugging the dog whenever it is lying on you will only give it a sign to do it again. That’s why you should stop yourself from doing encouraging behaviors if you don’t enjoy the dog laying on you.
Whenever it lays on you, gently object, and tell the dog to lay somewhere else. Don’t be aggressive and shout at the dog or physically move it. Rather, let it lay on you for a short while and ignore it and then proceed to move away respectfully. Still, let the dog be around you.
Encourage For The Right Reasons
Even if you don’t like it when it lays on you constantly, you might have periods when it feels nice when the dog hugs you. In moments of relaxation when you feel like cuddling, allow the dog to lay on you. Just try not to get your dog confused about whether you do or don’t want it laying on you.
In the moments when you don’t want to let the dog lay on you, teach it to sleep somewhere else. Just make sure the place is comfortable and near you so you can still bond and provide support.
A good way to prevent the dog from sleeping on your bed, especially if it’s prone to shedding, is to provide a crate for it to sleep in. In order to teach your dog how to sleep in the crate, you need to go through crate training.
Provide a comfy bed and put it in the crate. Put the crate in a safe place where the dog will feel calm. When you manage to get your dog in the crate, give it a treat and praise. This is called positive reinforcement and it’s very effective when training a dog.
Deal With Separation Anxiety
If your dog stays close to you for too long due to separation anxiety, you need to try and cure your dog of this situation. Separation anxiety causes a lot of stress and can lead to long-term health issues.
For one, don’t leave the dog alone for too long, or ask your friends to visit it occasionally if you can’t. If the anxiety is already developed, talk to a professional dog trainer or a veterinarian for help. There are also some supplements like valerian root that can help calm your dog.
Pet-Owner Emotional Benefits
Even though it may feel uncomfortable at times, having the dog snuggling with the owner brings a lot of benefits.
For one, dogs tend to calm their owners and cause them to sleep better. By petting dogs, the stress hormone cortisol decreases, and the happy hormone oxytocin increases. Besides that, it also reduces stress, depression, and loneliness. Those are some proven pet therapy benefits and why dogs are used for therapy.
It’s also proven that cuddling with your dog causes a reduction in blood pressure and heart rate. The same benefits can also be seen in the dog. So co-sleeping with pets is a great bonding activity that will keep you both happy and healthy.
Teaching Your Dog To Cuddle With You
Sometimes your dog will be the one that doesn’t want to lay on you. Knowing all the dog cuddling benefits, you can do a few things to teach it that cuddling is beneficial.
Start by creating a positive and loving environment. Let the dog be close to you on the couch and establish physical contact with the pet like a belly rub or a hug from time to time. Don’t be aggressive or get mad if it doesn’t feel like cuddling.
You can use positive reinforcement by giving it a treat or praise whenever it lays on you to cuddle. Keep the cuddling sessions fun and short and don’t let the dog get bored. If your dog likes licking your legs, let it. Repeat this every time you feel like cuddling.
Which Dog Breeds Like Laying On Their Owners?
One of the reasons for your dog laying on you may be its breed. Some breeds are more prone to being affectionate with their owners compared to other breeds. Large dog breeds that are known for their affection are the Great Dane and the Labrador Retriever.
Usually, the dogs you will find in your lap are the funnily named “lap dogs” which include only the smaller dog breeds. This includes dogs like the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Chihuahua, Maltese, Shih Tzu, Havanese, and Toy Poodle.
Why Does My Dog Lay On Me? – A Summary
The connection between humans and dogs has been developing for years. The pet-human bond benefits are high for both species. So it’s no wonder why the dog’s sleeping habits are such.
Dogs will show their affection and loyalty to their owners by laying on them when they rest. Pets find warmth and comfort by doing so. Some dogs will start getting closer to their owners as they experience separation anxiety. This is something that should be treated by a veterinarian.
Other reasons for this behavior include communication, protective behavior, and resource guarding. If you think this behavior is not for you, you should use positive dog behavior training properly by not encouraging the behavior.
Why do dogs lay on other dogs?
Dogs lay on other dogs for the same reasons why it lays on you. They cuddle to keep warm and comfortable, as well as to protect each other and communicate something.
Why does my dog lay on me and not my husband or wife?
Your dog may lay on you rather than your partner because you share a stronger bond. Other reasons would be that you’re a calm sleeper, not a snorer, or you’re warmer and more comfy.
Why does my dog lay on his back?
When a dog lays on its back next to you it means that it is comfortable and vulnerable with you. Laying on the back also provides a cooling effect, and you will often see this pose in the summer.
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