Why Does My Dog Always Have to Lay on Me?

Puppy dog laying on the arms of a woman.

Does it really get any better than a nice warm human lap? Not as far as your dog is concerned! Whether your dog is a teacup yorkie or a great dane, one thing remains – laying on you is one of your dog’s favorite places to be.

But why?

Your dog lays on you as a sign of love, protection, and warmth. This is an innate and evolutionary behavior that’s observable even in puppies as they pile up on top of one another for security and warmth. This doesn’t change when they come to live with you. Dogs are emotional beings and need close touch and on-going interaction.

Disclaimer: The Can My Dog articles contain information based on the individual research and opinions of the author of the site – who just so happens to be a dog. How you utilize the information given is completely up to you. Proceed at your own risk.

Where Does This Behavior For Your Dog To Lay On You Come From?

While this continued “pack mentality” is not necessarily required for a domesticated and well-loved dog’s survival, the pureness of your dog’s intentions to cuddle and lay on you remains constant.

While your dog may not have 4 to 6 furry siblings to lay up against anymore, they still have you.

The need to lay on you comes from years of evolved survival and innate family ties. Touching you, sitting on your feet when you stand, sitting in your lap when you sit, and laying on your chest when you’re on the floor are all ways your dog shows you he loves you!

By nourishing this behavior, you strengthen your bond.

As a matter of fact, many cultures consider co-sleeping / snuggling to be highly normalized and appropriate behavior. Some even lay with their dogs nightly for protection and warmth.

Should I Let My Dog Lay On Me?

This is completely up to you.

Again, the behavior comes from your dog showing affection, seeking safety, and sharing warmth.

More often than not, the benefits far outweigh the bad. For instance, snuggling and even sleeping with your dog can ease symptoms of anxiety.

The crazy thing is, less than 50% of all pup owners share their bed with their fur babies. Imagine the mutual bliss if you guys would just scoot over!

We (pups) love couch snuggles as much as the next person. If our humans are laying on the couch, or on the bed, or on the floor, we need to be laying with them. It’s an adoration type of thing for us.

There is absolutely no harm in allowing your dog to lay on you – but we understand completely if it’s just not comfortable for you. If that’s the case, I suggest staying consistent in teaching your dog where to lay when it’s lounging time.

More on that below…

Other Reasons Your Dog May Be Laying On You

While we all want to think our dog’s intentions are always pure – this, unfortunately, is not always the case.

Start paying attention to when, how, and why your dog is laying on you. Are there other people around, does your dog seem scared, or showing signs of dominance?

Asserting their dominance may be top of the most malice doggie intentions. While this isn’t necessarily dangerous, it is a behavior that should be discouraged immediately.

For most dogs, this isn’t a constant issue, but a sporadic occurrence. Nevertheless, if this behavior continues, it may be best to consult your vet.

The most prominent examples of a dog attempting to show dominance include:

Other reasons your dog may be laying on you are to spread their scent (mark their “territory”), breed specificity – some breeds have an innate drawl and desire to sit on their human’s laps, they’re in a playful mood, or just really needing some cuddles.

Be honest with yourselves here, humans…

Is there ever a bad time to have a dog around or on top of you?

What To Do If You Don’t Want Your Dog Laying On You

Do you have a great dane? Or a super big golden retriever who has a massive case of mistaken identity and assumes they can just fit in your lap anytime?

This can be uncomfortable for you and for your house guests when they come in to sit on the couch only to find themselves completely covered up in pupper.

It’s important to teach your dog to keep their distance.

Dogs are naturally invasive little creatures. What’s yours is also theirs – and that’s including your personal space. Given the chance, all dogs prefer sitting in your lap and laying on you as opposed to on the floor and alone.

We’re pack animals – lest you forget.

And because of this, you will have to teach us where we should lay instead.

This will take work, humans. If you want us to listen, you must first teach us how. The key to training your dog is….


If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it 24 times in just as many other articles. The only way to get commands and preferred behaviors through our thick skulls is with repetition on a continued basis.

Until we have it down pat.

Easily Train Your Dog To Stay Out Of Your Lap

Here’s what you will need to do:

Step One: Your dog sits in your lap.

Two: Say “down” (just once) and immediately put your dog on his bed located in a specific spot in your house.

Three: Praise your dog with lots of “good boys” and a treat while he’s laying on his bed. This is positive reinforcement in its most simplest form. We respond well to this – trust me.

Four: REPEAT this until your pup (1) stops jumping up in your lap altogether, or (2) gets down immediately and goes to his bed when you give him the “down” command.

Step Five: Repeat again. For good measure.

It really is that simple. The hard part comes from staying consistent in your trainings.


Try to remember that we’re laying on you because we love you SO much. We need you but you need us more. We’ll happily keep your legs warm while you rub our ears.

It’s a win / win for both parties involved!

And as always, continue to Live, Love, Laugh, and Scratch our bellies often!

Love you guys,


P.S. If you’re new to this world, you may want to check out my Ultimate Guide for First Time Dog Parents. It’s a great reference to get you started on this journey.

This article has been reviewed by our Editorial Board and has been approved for publication in accordance with our Editorial Policies.

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