7 Reasons Why Your Dog Is Lying on You

Your pup could be trying to tell you something when they lay on you, or they could just think you're comfortable.

Published February 4, 2023
Cute dog resting in owner lap at home

There is a sweet picture of your dog lying on top of you, looking at you with their head tilted with a curious expression. The dog's fur is soft and fluffy, and the light from the lamp in the background creates a warm glow around them. This is one of those images that just makes you feel good, happy, and content. You can also sense your dog's comfort and feelings of safety. This is usually a normal behavior. However, if your dog is acting out of the ordinary, it could be a sign of a concerning problem, such as illness or pain.

1. You're Being Protected

Dogs are protective by nature. They guard their territory, their pack, and their family members. If your dog is protecting you, it's likely because they see you as part of their pack. When they lay down on you, they can keep tabs on you. Knowing you are secure makes them feel more secure.

Your dog's sense of duty and loyalty make them feel responsible for the well-being of the people they love most. If your dog is guarding you, it's nothing to be worried about as long as they don't get too overprotective and start biting strangers who come into your home or yard.

2. They're Sensing Your Stress

Dogs have a lot of abilities that humans don't. They can hear sounds we can't and smell odors we can't. But one of the most impressive things about dogs is that they can sense emotions. When you feel stressed, they know, and they're lying on you to try to comfort you and reduce your stress.

Dogs have an amazing ability to sense sadness in humans. A study by the Canine Cognition Center at Yale University showed that dogs can tell when a person is sad, or even depressed. They will respond by trying to comfort their owner, often by placing a paw on their body, nudging, or lying next to them.

This is not just a random act. Dogs are actually able to interpret human emotions, and they know when something is wrong. According to the study, dogs not only understand facial expressions of human emotions but also body language, such as posture.

3. You're Just Warm and Cozy

Dogs can get cold just like we do, but they don't usually grab a coat or a blanket like you do when you're feeling chilly. So, when your dog is cold, they want to be near something warm, which is usually another animal or human. If your dog gets cold, they will try to find a warm place to curl up next to you or another animal in order to stay warm. You may even notice them attempting to snuggle under the blankets you're under.

4. They're Feeling Insecure

Dogs are emotional animals and can be insecure about many things. Even though it may seem like your dog is being lazy, they might not feel as secure in your home as you think. For example, if your dog doesn't get along with other dogs or cats in the house, or is uncomfortable with a particular environment, that could make them nervous and search for comfort.

To help your pooch feel more secure:

  • Properly introduce your dog to any new pets.
  • Make sure everyone follows proper etiquette when entering and exiting so your dog doesn't feel threatened as new people come into their home.
  • Be mindful of how loud people are around your dog during mealtime. This will help them stay calm while they eat, and keep them calm during the rest of the day.
  • Give your dog their own "safe place" in your home where they can retreat when they feel nervous. This could be a crate or a bed that's not shared by other pets or people in the house.

5. They Might Feel Pain or Illness

If your dog is sick or in pain, they may be seeking comfort from you. If you've ever had a headache, you know what it feels like to want to lie on the floor with your head on your pillow. You may even remember lying your head on your mother's or father's lap as a child for comfort. Your dog may be feeling pain or discomfort and want you to comfort them.

If you notice any of these signs accompanying your dog lying on you, it is important to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian.

  • Change in appetite or water consumption
  • Crying out in pain when touched or handled
  • Limping
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Unusual discharge from the eyes or nose
  • Disorientation or confusion
  • Diarrhea or vomiting
  • Lethargy

6. They Just Want Rest

Black man petting English bulldog

Another possibility is that your dog just needs somewhere quiet to rest for a little bit. Maybe they don't feel like going outside for a walk or playing fetch right now, but they still need attention and affection. Sometimes, your dog may just be sleepy and search for a place that's safe to rest. You're their safe place. They know you will watch after them as they close their eyes to catch some good sleep. Many dogs feel more secure when they're close to their owners. This is especially true if they have been abandoned or abused in the past.

7. They're a Little Too Comfortable

If you're a dog owner, you know that one of the best parts about owning a dog is the unconditional love and affection your pet gives you. It's easy to get caught up in the adorable factor of it all, especially when your dog jumps on the couch or bed and snuggles up next to you for a nap.

However, some dogs can become so comfortable with their owners that they won't leave them alone. If you have a dog who lies on top of you every time you sit down, you may want to take some steps to prevent this behavior. Action steps to take include:

  • If your dog jumps up on you, gently push them down and say "off." Then give them a treat or praise when they sit still for a few seconds after you push them off. Once they get the idea, start rewarding your dog for sitting calmly next to you instead of jumping up on you.
  • Make sure your dog has plenty of exercise. This will make them more likely to want to lie down instead of climb up on people or furniture looking for a place to snooze - especially if they have been cooped up most of the day in a crate or kennel while you're at work or out running errands.
  • Teach them where they are allowed to sleep, either in their own bed or crate. Once again, use treats and praise as incentives for good behavior, but don't give up if your pup tries to lounge in an inappropriate place. Dogs don't always understand right away what you want them to do, so patience is key when training them properly.

If You're Concerned

If your dog is sleeping more than normal or they are acting out of the ordinary, visit a veterinarian for a checkup and explain the behavior you have observed. In most cases, your dog lying on you isn't a sign of anything abnormal, but any concerns you have are worth mentioning.

7 Reasons Why Your Dog Is Lying on You