Why Does My Dog Lay On Top Of Me? (14 Reasons)

If you’re wondering, “Why does my dog lay on top of me?” you’re not alone.

We’re Marco and Michelle, the proud owners of a feisty rescue Chihuahua named Leo, who just can’t resist snuggling up on us whenever he gets the chance. 

We’ve got plenty of adorable pictures throughout this post to prove it!

Leo’s cuddly habits have led us on a journey to uncover the 14 reasons why dogs do this plus the pros and cons of this behavior.

And, if you’ve ever found yourself in the same position, literally pinned beneath your furry friend, we’ll also share some tips on how to gently discourage your dog from making you their favorite human cushion.

a tan and white puppy is laying on top of a woman sleeping

14 Reasons Why Dogs Lay on You

Let’s explore the key factors that drive this behavior.

a tan chihuahua is lying on top of a man's legs
Leo loves sleeping on Marco’s legs

1. Affection

One way dogs show their love and affection is by cozying up to the ones they love.  

Dogs are social creatures at heart, and snuggling up on top of us is their way of soaking in all that warm, fuzzy affection.

And we humans get some benefits too!

Petting your dog is like a stress-buster.

It’s been proven that it lowers your cortisol, which is basically the stress hormone.

a tan chihuahua is sleeping on a man's side with a pink and gray blanket
Leo the Chihuahua sleeping on Marco

2. Warmth

Dogs, just like us, seek warmth and comfort. 

Dogs have a slightly higher body temp than us humans, so when they snuggle up on top of us, it’s their genius way of finding that sweet spot to stay warm.

This helps them regulate their temperature and stay cozy.

And on a chilly winter day, that extra warmth from our furry buddies is like a built-in heating system!

a tan chihuahua is looking up and laying on a man's stomach wearing a blue shirt
Leo the Chihuahua dog laying on top of Marco

3. Protection and Security

Another reason why dogs lay on you is because they have a natural instinct to be our furry protectors.

So, they snuggle up on or next to us to create a bubble of safety and security for both them and us. 

So, if your dog decides to plonk themselves right on top of you, they might just be taking their job as your guardian very seriously.

4. Separation Anxiety

When our furry pals have a case of separation anxiety, laying on us is like their go-to security blanket. 

They are all about finding comfort and reassurance when they’re feeling a bit anxious. 

Pups with separation anxiety exhibit behaviors such as chewing, digging, excessive barking or whining, or having accidents in the house.

a tan chihuahua is wearing a teal shirt and is laying on top of a man's back wearing a matching teal shirt
Leo laying on top of Marco

5. You Aren’t Feeling Well

Some dogs have a sixth sense and can tell when we’re not feeling our best. 

Dogs have an incredibly sensitive sense of smell and can detect changes in the odor of their owners when they are sick.

Alexandra Horowitz from the Horowitz Dog Cognition Lab explains that dogs can sense these changes due to their highly developed olfactory receptors, which number up to 300 million.

Whether we’re feeling anxious, sad, or under the weather, they’re right there, dishing out cuddles and support.

6. Loneliness

Dogs are just big softies who love having their humans around 24/7. 

So, when they’re feeling a bit lonesome they decide to lounge right on top of us. 

They want to be as close as possible because they genuinely adore our company. 

If they’ve been home alone too long or feeling a bit neglected, that’s their way of saying, “Hey, don’t forget about me!”

7. You’ve Reinforced the Behavior

If your dog likes to lay on you, it might be because you’ve encouraged this habit.

How? Well, whenever they plop themselves down, we shower them with attention, praise, or even tasty treats.

It’s like they’ve figured out the secret code to get what they want! 

So, they keep coming back for more because it works like a charm! 

a tan chihuahua is lying on a man's lap
Leo laying on top of Marco

8. You Have a Lapdog Breed

Some pups are born to be lapdogs. 

Take Chihuahuas and Bichon Frises, for example – they were practically designed for lap lounging. 

It’s in their DNA to snuggle up and soak in our warmth and cuddles. 

Even big dogs, the ones who could double as furry bears, can channel their inner lapdog. 

Sometimes decide they want in on that lap action too! 

9. Puppy Behavior

When dogs were puppies, they snuggled up close, and it made their bonds super strong. 

So, when they lay on us, it’s their way of saying that we’re part of the family. 

This Sleep Duration and Behaviours study shows that 87% of dogs will choose to sleep near their guardians or other dogs if given the opportunity.

If you’ve got a young pup, they might be doing the same thing they did with their littermates – seeking that comfy, secure feeling. 

a dog with floppy ears wearing a cream sweater is lying on a pregnant woman's leg

10. Pregnancy

Our furry buddies have noses that are basically superhero sniffers.

Rebecca Greenstein, a veterinary medical advisor for Rover, explains in this article that during pregnancy, a woman’s hormonal changes can lead to a distinct scent difference that dogs are highly sensitive to.

A 2022 study demonstrated that dogs have the ability to detect changes induced by psychological stress in human breath and sweat.

This means dogs can pick up on shifts in pheromones and hormones with remarkable precision.

So, what’s their reaction? 

They go full-on cuddle mode!

Michelle’s sister found this to be true when her dog showered her with extra attention when she was pregnant with both her kids.

11. Jealousy & Resource Guarding

Our furry pals are quite the characters, especially when it comes to sharing our attention!  

If you’ve got other pets or family members hanging around, your dog might decide to park himself right on top of you to show they’re the top dog.

But if they’re feeling a bit jealous or possessive, they can take the whole resource-guarding thing to a whole new level. 

They might try to become our personal bodyguards, making sure no one else gets too close. 

Now, while it can be cute, this behavior can get a bit dicey if it turns into aggressive guarding. 

a big tan dog with floppy ears is laying on top of a man's lap and staring at him
Marco with Michelle’s sister’s dog

12. It’s Comfortable

You know what they say, sometimes the simplest answer is the right one! 

Our dogs might just plop down on us because it’s, well, super comfy. 

They’ve discovered the comfiest spot in the house, sometimes even comfier and warmer than their own bed

13. To Get Your Attention

Another reason why your dog sleeps on top of you is to get your attention.

When our dogs want our attention, they may resort to a variety of tactics – including laying on us – to ensure that they are the center of our focus.

When a dog isn’t getting enough attention, they might resort to headbutting you, barking excessively, pawing at you, persistent whining, or licking you.

If you’re looking to spend more time with your dog, why not try one of our 26 fun games to play!

a tan chihuahua is tucked in with a green blanket sleeping on a woman's side
Leo the Chihuahua sleeping on Michelle

14. Spread Their Scent

It’s also a way for them to share their scent with you, which can be comforting and reassuring for both you and your furry friend.

When dogs decide to cozy up on us, they’re doing more than just catching some Z’s. 

a woman wearing glasses and a striped shirt has a big tan dog laying on top of her lap
Michelle’s sister’s dog laying on her

Dogs have these nifty scent glands on the undersides of their paws that are like built-in scent markers, perfect for leaving their trail behind.

They are sharing their special scent with us and marking us as their territory. 

So, it’s not just about warmth and cuddles; it’s about building that sweet connection between you and your furry buddy.

Dogs will even lay in the bathroom or on top of your shoes to get closer to your scent.

Pros and Cons of Your Dog Laying On You

Having your furry friend lay on you can be a heartwarming and comforting experience, but it can also have its downsides. Here are some pros and cons to consider.

ProsCons
Deep Pressure Therapy: this type of therapy, often used by service dogs, creates a calming effect on the body. Discomfort: depending on your dog’s size and weight, laying on top of you can be uncomfortable or painful.
Bonding: laying on top of you is a way for your dog to show affection and strengthen the bond between you two. Dominance: some dogs may see laying on top of you as a way to assert dominance.
Comfort and relaxation: the natural warmth and rhythmic breathing of our dogs can help us unwind after a long day and make it easier to fall asleep.Lack of personal space: having your dog always on top of you can make it difficult to have personal space or get things done.
Warmth: dogs enjoy the warmth and comfort of their owners. On colder days, having our dogs snuggle up to us can keep us warm and cozy.Resource Guarding: some dogs may become possessive when laying on top of you, guarding you from others or other pets.
Security: your dog may feel safer and more secure when laying on top of you, especially if they are anxious or scared.
Emotional support: simply feeling the presence of our loyal companions can lift our spirits, improve our mood during tough times, and decrease our feelings of loneliness.
Health benefits: petting your dog while they lay on you can lower your blood pressure and reduce stress.

How to Discourage Your Dog From Laying on You

While it may be comforting to have our dogs lay on us, there are times we may want to discourage this behavior.

a man wearing glasses and a brown shirt has a dog laying on top of his back, wondering "why is my dog laying on top of me?"
Leo lying on top of Marco

Determine Why Your Dog Lays On You

First up, take note when your pup does this behavior to see if you can spot a pattern.

Is it because they’re hungry? Is it when they need to go outside?

Are they cold? Have they gotten enough exercise?

By connecting the dots between their actions and their needs, you can decode why they lay on you and meet their needs so it happens less frequently.

Redirect the Behavior

One method to prevent our dogs from laying on us is by redirecting their attention to something more appropriate. 

For example, if you notice your dog getting ready to lay on you, gently guide them towards a designated spot or their bed. 

Rewarding them with a treat, praise, or some petting can help reinforce the new behavior.

Soon enough, they’ll catch on that their special spot is where the real cozy action happens.

Teach Go to Spot or Off Command

Establishing a specific command can be an effective way to train our dogs not to lay on us. 

We can, for example, teach them to “go to their spot” or “off” when they attempt to lay on us. 

Here’s how to make it happen:

  • Choose your command like “off” or “go to your spot” – and stick with it
  • When your dog starts to lay on you, calmly and firmly say the command
  • If they respond, shower them with praise or a tasty treat
  • Be patient and consistent with your training, as this will take time

Crate Training

If your dog is having a hard time staying off of you, crate training may be a good option. 

A crate is like a cozy little haven, a place where they can chill out without turning you into their personal cushion.

When they’re in there, make it a party! 

Drop in toys, treats, or a Kong to keep them entertained and happy. 

It’s like their own little doggy den where they can kick back and relax.

Summary

We’ve covered the 14 intriguing reasons behind this cuddly habit, delved into the pros and cons, and even shared some tips on gently steering your pup away from turning you into their favorite cushion. 

Now, whether your furry friend’s on top of you for comfort, companionship, or just plain warmth, you’ve got the inside scoop on what’s going on in that furry little head. 

So go ahead, embrace those cuddles, and remember, it’s all part of the paw-some bond between you and your loyal canine companion.

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