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Why Does My Dog Lay On Me? | 7 Reasons

For those of you who like long walks on the beach and are real ‘dog people’ – you might adore the wet kisses and cuddles from your dog. Some may consider moments like this, ones they look forward to the most.

But why do dogs lie so close to you? And what drives them to want to do it? Should you be concerned about your dog laying on you? Why does my dog lay on me?

Many dog parents experience having their dog lie right against them, or perhaps even on top of them. And others may have noticed that their dog loves to lean against them frequently.

All these needy-looking types of behaviors will be explained in this post by considering the real nature of our domesticated dogs. And, also help give you and your dog a chance at improving your puppy love.

woman lying with malamute on couch

Why Does My Dog Lay on Me? 7 Reasons

For any dog owner noticing that their dog has started laying on top of them and is wondering why the most likely reason is that your dog is just seeking attention.

But here are some other indicators of why your dog loves to lay on you.

1. Your Dog is Being Protective

Another reason why your dog might be doing this action a lot is that they become especially protective when you are around other people or animals. Bear in mind that your dog sees you as part of their pack.

So, when your dog cuddles up with you, they are acknowledging your bond and closeness. Their heightened affection is a way to express that they want to keep you safe.

3. Your Dog Loves Your Scent

Their pack (aka rather you and your family) have a distinct smell. Your distinctive smell is the scent of belonging. You may also catch your dog rolling on your bed, clothes, or sheets from time to time.

This is because they are trying to redistribute that pack scent back onto themselves. Your scent is also a feeling of safety for your pet.

3. Your Dog Feels Safer

Most dog breeds were bred to work alongside their owners and feel more secure when they are in a group. Sleeping or laying on top of you could be helping your fur-baby to feel safer and less vulnerable.

dog lies between owner's legs

4. Your Dog Wants Your Attention

Your dog is trying to get extra attention from you. This behavior would be more likely if you have not given your dog attention for a while.

Or your dog has picked up that you tend to give them extra attention when it does lay on top of you.

Why Do Dogs Engage in Attention-seeking Behavior?

Dogs are social animals. They crave attention and interaction with their humans on a daily basis. A possible reason for attention-seeking behavior from your dog could be boredom.

This is more likely to happen if your dog lacks mental stimulation, they don’t get enough exercise, or lack confidence.

5. Your Dog Is Happy

Yes, laying on top of you makes your dog happy. You have the love hormone Oxytocin to thank for that.

Oxytocin is a hormone that enables both owner and dog to feel good. Many studies say that Oxytocin is released through touch, warmth, and stroking. Pet owners do all of these things to their dogs.

Oxytocin increases eye contact, face memory, and decreases depression.

Furthermore, the study shows that Oxytocin has anti-stress effects and the hormone counteracts aggression.

6. Your Dog Is Expecting Something

Most pets love routine and so the cause of this behavior could be that it is waiting to get something from you. This is more likely to occur if it tends to do it more at around the same time that you would normally give it something such as food or going on a walk.

dog with head on owner's legs

7. You Encouraged the Behavior

Picture this: You’ve just come home from a long day at work and all you want to do is relax on the couch. While on the couch, your dog crawls on top of you to lay on your chest. You instinctively reach out to rub their ears. Or give them cuddles.

These things are reinforcing for a dog. If you don’t ask them to leave, your dog will think it’s okay to lay on top of you.

This could be the case with you and your dog. You have encouraged your dog to do this behavior by giving it love when it does it. If you give it things such as back or belly rubs, when it lays on you, it will likely do it more. And every time they do it and you don’t stop them, the behavior gets reinforced.

Why Does My Dog Sleep on Top of Me? 3 Reasons

Alright, so your dog likes to lay on you – but what if your dog has hit the snooze button and has fallen asleep on top of you?

Well, this might just mean that your dog got comfortable and fell asleep. It’s not much different from when you get comfortable lying on the couch while watching Netflix and dozing off.

Plus, stroking your dog while it lays on top of you, releases all sorts of irresistible sleep hormones too good to ignore.

1. Comfort, Warmth, and Love

See this as a sign that your dog is comfortable with you. The cause could be that it finds sleeping on top of you as being more comfortable. This would be more likely if it chooses to sleep there instead of in its own bed.

This is especially true for small breeds of dogs that have less hair. Your body heat makes you an inviting pillow for your pooch.

You may notice this behavior picking up when it’s wintertime. Your dog will want to cuddle with you more to feel warm.

Choosing to sleep on top of you could also be a sign of their affection. Dogs like being on top of you because your body heat warms them.

dog on owner's lap

Or they just want to show their love by licking your face. This would be more likely if it tends to get you to rub its stomach or back before going to sleep.

2. Your Dog May Have Separation Anxiety

One of the reasons for your dog falling asleep on you or laying on top of you is because it may have separation anxiety. This would be more likely if your dog tends to show signs of being anxious when you are about to leave the house.

And your dog may sleep or lay on you, only before you have left and not after you have arrived home.

This is more likely if you and your dog spend a lot of time together. They’ll want to climb on top of you because they don’t want you to be apart.

3. Your Dog Might Detect An Illness

A rather unlikely but possible reason that your dog is suddenly beginning to lay on you can be due to its incredible superpower to detect illness in humans.

While not all dogs have this ability, researchers have found that if a domesticated dog has a strong bond with its human, its sense of smell becomes attuned to them.

So, it is possible that the dog can detect ailments such as cancer, diabetes, malaria, or Parkinson’s disease.

Although this is a true marvel in animal-human research and connectedness, don’t be too alarmed if your dog begins to lay on you.

Always make going to the doctor a routine regardless as the chances that your furry friend thinks something is wrong with your health is quite low.

jack russell with headphones on in owner legs

What Should I Do to Stop My Dog Laying On Top of Me?

It’s cute and cuddly at times, but if you have a larger dog, or prefer your own space, you may be looking for ways to dissuade your pup from laying on top of you constantly.

If you want to get your dog to stop laying on top of you, here are some suggestions and tips that could help stop your dog from continuing this behavior.

1. Positive Reinforcement Training

One option would be to train your dog to lay somewhere else with the use of positive reinforcement training. This is where you encourage your dog to behave in a certain way by rewarding it when it shows signs of good behavior.

Continue to repeat the process a few times daily until your dog realizes that lying where you want them to, results in them getting rewards.

2. Make the Location You Want Your Dog to Sleep In Comfortable

Unfortunately, your dog sleeping on you is usually only comfortable for one party – and it’s not you. So, it would help to encourage your dog to sleep or lay where you want it to by making that area comfortable for them.

The area shouldn’t be too hot, not too bright at night, quiet and there should be plenty of space for them to lie down.

beagle on woman's lap on couch why does my dog lay on me

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3. Try to Reduce Your Dog’s Separation Anxiety

As mentioned before, your dog could be doing this because it has some separation anxiety. So, try to alleviate their stress and anxiousness by getting your dog to exercise, letting it pee, and feeding it before leaving so that it does not have to wait on your return for too long.

Final Thoughts on Why Your Dog Lies On You

Essentially, it all boils down to your dog feeling reassured by your presence. Your furry bestie needs constant confirmation that you are there for them.

To provide this reassurance and confirmation, do not push your four-legged friend away. Allow them to remain close beside you for at least a few minutes, as being close to you makes them feel protected, be happy, feel safe, and gives them comfort.

pug lies with man

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