What Does It Mean When a Dog Likes Sitting on Top of You?

by Elton Dunn
"Mommy's lap is the most comfortable spot in the house!"

"Mommy's lap is the most comfortable spot in the house!"

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Sometimes it's cute when your dog sits on your lap, but at other times it's simply not convenient. Reasons for this behavior range from his personal comfort to canine strategy. Since he won't tell you outright, look to his other behavior for context clues that help explain this.


Your dog may simply be happy to see you after a long day without you. For many dogs, sitting beside you -- or on top of you -- is a nice way to spend time together. If you reward your dog's behavior with pets and cuddles, he may have learned that this behavior gets him lots of good affection.


According to dog trainer Cesar Millan, behaviors like jumping up on your lap or pawing at your legs to be picked up can be signs of dominance. If your dog tries to claim a certain chair as his, snapping when you try to move him over or push him off, or growls if you disturb his beauty rest, playtime or snack, he believes he is dominant over you. By sitting on your lap, he is claiming you as his person.


For some pups, lap sitting is part of a scent bombing campaign. As your dog sits on your lap or even your foot, he rubs some of his scent on you. You may only notice that you've got fur on your nice black shirt, but other dogs will pick up on his scent. Part protective, part dominant, this helps your pet claim you as his owner even when he can't go with you.

Other Reasons

Sometimes lap sitting is about your behavior and not your pet's. Dogs can tell when you're sick or sad and may offer affection via lap sit to cheer you up. For some dogs, there's nothing more to this behavior other than a desire to have the most comfortable spot in the house -- your lap! If your pet falls asleep on your lap, he may be trying to recreate the pack sleeping arrangement: Dogs sleep all over one another, and lying on your lap resembles that.

Photo Credits

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About the Author

Elton Dunn is a freelance writer with over 14 years experience. Dunn specializes in travel, food, business, gardening, technology, beauty and fashion writing. His work has appeared in various print and online publications. Dunn holds a Masters of Fine Arts in creative writing from Emerson College.

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