So, in case it is not blindingly obvious, dogs are not like humans. They do not really respect personal space or consider it to be private in any way. This is ironic, because dogs actually hate their personal space being invaded – be it by us humans, or fellow four-legged friends.
Read on to find out why your dog loves to invade your personal space, and 7 reasons why your dog always wants to lay on top of you.
Dogs are the perfect companion because they are so affectionate, and just love to be around you and preferably close to you whenever they can be. If you are really wondering what makes your dog lay on top of you, we can get a little historical.
Dogs are pack animals descended from wolves, so very early on in their lives this behavior is enforced.
What do we mean by this? Well, your dog may not necessarily have siblings to huddle with for warmth so you are their own personal heater, and their source of comfort and safety.
Keeping in with the historical context, dogs get their behavioral instincts from wolves, for instance, your dog will guard your family home or wherever you are staying because as far as your dog is concerned this is your territory.
The best example of this is if you go on vacation to a holiday home, your dog would guard this in the same way as your family home despite this being new territory to you and them. You still need to be protected by your four-legged friend, in their eyes, wherever you may inhabit.
Your dog lying next to you is their way of reassuring you that they will protect you and defend you at all costs.
Dogs are inherently loyal animals and will protect you because they will instinctively put their own safety on the line if it means that they can protect you.
In excess, these instincts can become dangerous because if your dog becomes too aggressive then this can inadvertently put you at risk. You will be able to pick up on this through the way that your dog behaves around other people, and if you are concerned then chances are your dog is becoming too aggressive.
You can speak to your vet about this or a professional dog trainer to get some advice and guidance on how to combat this. One thing to note is that the older your dog gets, the harder it will become to undo these aggressive habits so you need to act quickly when it comes to spotting any signs of aggression in your dog.
So, now we have explored the history behind why dogs are so instinctively protective of their owners, and why this translates to laying on you. Here are our top seven reasons why your dog will always want to lay on top of you.
1. They Are Being Protective
The main reason why your dog always wants to lay on top of you is because they want to protect you. We have talked a lot about dogs and their protective instincts, and the times where this can become worrying – or most of the time, it is perfectly normal.
But, it is important to remember that for your dog, you are their entire world. Every aspect of their life is controlled by you and therefore revolves around you. That, and you are the one who feeds them every day so this is a pretty key priority too. They lie on your lap to show you how much they value you.
Your dog will lie on your lap to show you how much they care about you and respect you as their owner.
2. They Are Bonding With You
Your dog lying on your lap is their way of bonding with you too. They cannot declare that they love you, and it is not a scientific fact that dogs actually love their owners yet, but the only way they can actually communicate with you is through their body language.
If your dog is completely comfortable with you they may very well lie on your lap because this is where they can feel the most at home.
Although it is not scientifically proven whether dogs can love their owners, lying on your lap is your dog’s way of showing you that they appreciate you loving them. This again comes down to their pack heritage, as part of being a pack animal is protecting all of its members.
So, as your dog’s owner you are way up there in terms of ranking their personal pack. In fact, they show their protectiveness over you through lots of different ways, not just lying on your lap.
For instance, when the mailman drops off any post in the morning, your dog might bark frantically to warn you of someone who they consider to be an intruder.
An example of how this protective instinct derives from their wolf ancestors, who lick each other’s muzzles and leave their smell in areas that they consider to be theirs by urinating.
Does this sound familiar to you? Well, it should because your four-legged friend has descended from wolves.
3. They Just Find You Pretty Comfortable And Warm!
You are their favorite human cushion, so your dog will want to lie on your lap because to them you are comfy and warm. From a young age, dogs assimilate physical contact with warmth and comfort – so they are pretty content with huddling close to you whenever they can.
This is especially noticeable if you share an especially close bond with your dog, because they will be pretty quick to sit on your lap even if this puts you out a little. In fact, dogs with short coats and little body fat will require extra warmth during the winter and your body is a great source of this.
4. They Have Got Into The Habit Of Lying On Your Lap
The more your dog is allowed to lie on your lap, the more routine they build, and this is the most obvious reason of all. Your dog adores you and wants to be close to you all the time, so if you let them, they will build up a habit of lying on your lap.
Another good thing to note is that dogs do not have a concept of personal space.
They will lie on top of their owners whenever they please, but if you were to try and scramble into their dog’s bed then they would not be impressed with this invasion of their space.
If you let your dog lie on your lap, you strengthen the bond between them and you as your dog will not have a concept of personal space.
Additionally, your dog will show you affection by licking you and this can be said to be the equivalent of human kisses. Again, some dogs may react in this way, but other dogs may not.
Dogs will show their affection towards you in lots of different ways – so if your dog loves to lie on your lap but never licks your face, then do not worry.
5. The Alpha/Beta Dynamic
Your dog lying on your lap will play into the Alpha/Beta dynamic, which is more common with male dogs but is not completely outlawed amongst females. So, this dynamic is all about power and control.
So, in some cases your dog might be showing you that they are the boss and thus taking on the Alpha role.
For context, in a pack there is always an Alpha and male dogs might sometimes test you to see whether you are a match for them. A way they might test you could be through play, so they might make a point of trying to get on top of you and this would be your pet asserting their inner Alpha.
Your dog assuming the role of alpha can lead to some complications if your dog assumes that you take on the role of the submissive. In the worse case scenario they could attack if you do not act how they want you to.
You may think ‘this will never happen to me’ – but this is a dangerous mentality to have because if your dog has the role of the Alpha this will come above everything else. Even how much they love you.
6. Your Dog Wants Your Attention
In some simple cases, your dog will sit on your lap because they want you to pay them some attention.
Be this petting them or playing with them, or just giving them a warm spot to snooze, your dog sitting on your lap will warrant your attention somehow.
7. This Is Your Dog’s Way Of Making Eye Contact
So, interactions between you and your dog work as equivalents to human-to-human interactions. Your dog can’t talk to you and tell you how they feel, so by laying on top of you your dog is interacting with you positively.
Scientific studies have shown that your dog laying on top of you helps a hormone release that your dog assimilates with happiness.
Why Doesn’t My Dog Lie On My Lap?
So if you are sitting and wondering why your dog does not do this, then this is not something that you should stress or worry about. Not all dogs do this, they might show their affection in other ways though.
Whether it is licking your face, or bringing you their favorite toy, or making eye contact with you, there are lots of ways that your dog can show affection towards you.
How Can You Work Out If Your Dog Thinks They Are The Boss?
So, with your dog lying on top of you, it can be hard to work out if they view you as the boss or if they think that they are the boss. This is all about whether your dog perceives you as dominant or submissive.
So, if your dog growls at you when you go near their food, then this is one instance where your dog would view you as submissive.
To correct this, physical discipline will not work, and this can have an opposite effect. Showing your dog violence will provoke them to act in a violent manner. You can try an alternative method which is much more effective.
You can show your dog that they need you. So, when they bark for food, ignore them.
This is particularly difficult to do, because naturally your dog whining for food is really annoying. But, doing this teaches your dog discipline and an important lesson: your dog needs you to survive.
How To Stop Your Dog Lying On Your Bed
If your four-legged friend is quite comfortable with sharing your bed, and if this becomes part of their pattern and their night time routine then it is pretty tricky to reverse this. But, it can be done. You just have to be strong-willed with this.
Initially, when your dog stares up at you with big, confused eyes and is crying you will naturally want to cave and let them sleep on your bed. But, your dog will soon adapt and will still care for you the same.
They might be slightly miserable with you first thing but this is nothing a nice, long walk can’t resolve. The only reason why your dog will feel sad is because they want to be with you all the time.
This is especially the case if your dog is nervous or gets anxious when they are left alone. But, as an owner you have to make the call whether this is something you should stop our dog from doing if it will have adverse effects on their wellbeing.
The best way to get your dog to sleep in their own bed is to buy them a new bed and encourage them to use it during the night.
If your dog is particularly nervous or anxious, maybe put this bed in your bedroom, because they will sense your presence and be quite happy sprawling out in their own bed.
In fact, it is not recommended that your dog sleeps with you, just because like us humans, as your dog gets more tired they will get more irritable and will have a tendency to growl.
You might actually wake up to your dog biting you, not out of malice, just because in your sleep you might have moved and given them a fright, and their instinct to this is to attack. And, like we said, they’ll be pretty tired and needing their beauty sleep too.
So, we hope we have shown you that your dog lying on your lap is not a bad thing. It is your dog’s way of showing you how much they love you and appreciate you.
Of course, this can become problematic if your dog has a particularly heightened Alpha complex, but as we have shown, there are lots of ways that you can combat this.
In the same way, if you do not like your dog lying on you when you are in bed then there are ways to combat this too.
Dogs have been our faithful companions for years, and their body language is the closest that they can get to tell us that they love us. But, if your dog has certain lying down habits that are not to your taste then you can undo this.
The key? Patience, yeah, you will need a lot of this if you are trying to train your four-legged friend to stop lying on your or on your bed.
We hope we have reassured you that your dog lying on your lap might be a bonding exercise, your dog’s way of showing you how comfortable they are with you, or they are protecting you as you are their faithful companion, just as much as they are yours.