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Why Does My Dog Climb On My Shoulders? 11 Bizarre Reasons

Why Does My Dog Climb On My Shoulders

You’re chilling on your couch watching T.V. or drinking coffee.

Suddenly, your dog jumps up on you in an attempt to do something.


Your pooch turned you into Mount Everest.

Yet again.

You keep wondering if you should let them train with climbing pros.

After all, they keep on scaling you and onto your shoulders.

And you ask yourself, “Is this normal dog behavior?”

Should you be worried about this?

Read on to find out:

  • If there are any psychological causes for the behavior.
  • 7 actionable tips you can do to keep them from doing this.
  • 11 bizarre reasons why your dog climbs on your shoulders.
  • And a whole lot more…

Why does my dog climb on my shoulders?

Your dog climbs on your shoulders because they want to be near you and are in need of your affection. They might also be feeling anxious, fearful, or have no idea that you need your personal space. Your dog could also be in need of rest and warmth that you could provide during cold weather.

Why does my puppy climb on my shoulders?

Your puppy climbs on your shoulders because they like sitting on the couch that you’re sitting on. They could also just be trying to get your attention immediately. Your dog could also view you as someone who can protect them and therefore they feel safe when you’re around when they rest.

11 reasons why your dog climbs on your shoulders

#1: They want to show you affection

It’s no surprise that our dogs love us.

We see it every day.

The way they smile, wag their tail and jump up and down when they’re excited to have us around.

It’s true that a dog’s love is pure and unconditional.

And this overflowing love could be the reason why they climb on your shoulders.

It could be a way that they show their affections for you.

You’ll know that this is happening because they’d usually pair this behavior with kisses.

Doing this can make them happy.

It releases a hormone called oxytocin which their brains release due to positive interactions with you and other pets.

According to research, showing love physically can cause a surge of the happy hormone.

Not only does this make your pooch happy, it can also increase and strengthen the bond between you and your dog.

#2: They’re feeling anxious

Anxiety is a common cause of a lot of dog behavior.

Especially ones that involve being close to their hooman frequently.

And it may also be true in cases that your dog is climbing on your shoulders.

They are probably experiencing separation anxiety and want to be in your vicinity.

According to the AKC, anxiety is pretty normal in dogs.

They experience it occasionally.

But don’t worry!

It usually goes away and doesn’t have heavy repercussions on your dog’s overall health.

Their anxiety can come from different reasons such as:

  • Fear.
  • Old age.
  • Separation.
  • Meeting new pets/people.

However, being around can calm their nerves down and help them feel better.

Letting them know that you’re there for them through pets, hugs, and cuddles would also be a great aid in relieving them.

#3: They haven’t learned the concept of personal space

I mean, this is probably no surprise for a fur parent like you.

How many times have you woken up in the middle of your sleep with their butts in your face?

Or having your dog zoom past you into the bathroom when you’re “depositing in the bank”?

Dogs have little to no concept of personal space and it can be the reason why they climb up your shoulders.

As long as they get to be near you, feel you around, and give you wet and sloppy kisses, they’re gonna do anything.

This behavior is tolerable if your dog is small and light.

However, if you have a chonky tank boi, there’s gonna be a little bit of a problem.

#4: They got scared

Have you watched a horror movie recently?

Or anything that is thrilling and has jump scares?

You might not be able to count the number of times you flinched and covered your eyes.

I, for one, hide under my blanket when it gets too scary.

Dogs feel the same way, too!

Research shows that the same environmental factors that make humans scared and anxious can also affect dogs too.

Your fur baby understands why you scream when Freddy Krueger shows up in films.

This is because they might have the same reaction as you.

If they hear, see, or feel something that is scary to them, they might run to you for protection.

Knowing that you are one of the primary providers of their needs, they’ll feel safe around you.

Their fear can come from different sources.

“What can cause my fur baby’s fears, then?”

Here are a few examples of the causes of why your dog might be feeling scared at the moment:

  • Flickering lights and shadows.
  • Hearing loud noises. It could be that something fell.
  • Seeing new animals around your home. Squirrels, cats, even insects can scare them.
  • Meeting new people. Especially if you haven’t given them the time to be familiar with your guest.

Whatever the cause may be, make sure that it is nothing urgent.

Check out the reason why they got scared – it just might save you and your fur baby’s life.

Check out also: Why Does My Dog Stand Over Me? 13 Odd Reasons + 5 Tips

#5: They find that area good for resting

We’re not made from expensive, soft, and cozy mattresses. Despite that, to our dogs, our shoulders might be comfortable.

This can happen when you’re sitting down on your couch or are on your bed.

You’ll notice them slowly creep up and settle down on your shoulders.

Not only do dogs find our presence comforting, they might also be enjoying smelling us.

As you probably know, dogs have very sensitive noses.

And they learn a lot about the environment by sniffing around.

If you let them climb on your shoulders, they’d be able to hang around the source of your scent.

It could be the smell of your shampoo or your sweat that draws them and gives them comfort.

You could also be sitting in an area that has good ventilation and isn’t being hit directly by the sun.

Generally, your dog just thinks that your shoulders are one of the best spots around the house.

#6: They feel cold

If you live somewhere that has cold weather, you might have noticed your pooch doing this.

They curl up and cuddle with you just to feel a little bit warmer.

While dogs do have fur, it might not be enough for them.

Especially those who have short coats.

I mean, if only they could run out to a sweater shop and buy a cute jacket, that’d be awesome.

Their body fat also plays a large role in keeping them warm.

Dogs who are relatively smaller in size have lower body fat percentages, making them vulnerable to cold.

It’d be good if your fur baby is used to cold weather.

Or have the ability to quickly adapt to it.

Dog breeds like Huskies and Malamutes are able to withstand cold weather.

However, canines who don’t have the capacity to combat lower temperatures will rely on you for warmth.

Make sure you provide them a cozy place to stay and watch out for the following:

  • Hypothermia.
  • Disorientation.
  • Colds and cough.
  • Allergies and skin irritation.
  • Lower overall body temperature.
  • Joint problems and difficulty in moving.

You may also wonder: 13 Surprising Reasons Why Dogs Sleep On Your Stomach

#7: They’re just being playful

Dogs generally are active pets.

And they show this in different ways.

You might see them run circles around the house.

Just look at these fur babies go zoom zoom:

Or jump on you when you’re sitting down.

If this happens, then you might’ve not been giving ample playtime to your pooch.

This is a requirement for them.

Some breeds even need up to 20 hours and more of daily exercise to keep them mentally and physically healthy.

If your pooch is an energetic one, then you might be no stranger to them getting all up on you.

Especially if it’s already time to play.

By climbing onto your shoulders, they will be getting your full attention.

They might even bring a few toys to you and nudge them towards you. By doing this, they’re showing you that they want you to pick it up.

This will even be more frequent if your pooch is a working dog.

Examples of this breed are:

  • Pointer.
  • Border Collie.
  • German Shepherd.
  • Labrador Retriever.
  • English Cocker Spaniel.

If your pooch belongs to the working dog breed, they will also have high energy levels and would need to be given activities.

Here are examples of activities you can give them to keep them from being bored.

  • Close doors.
  • Pick up trash.
  • Get the newspaper.
  • Clean their toys and put them in a basket.

#8: They think you like it

If having your dog climb on your shoulders is something that you like, then you’ve got no worries.

However, if you need your space to focus on work and other activities, it can become an issue.

Problem is, you may have encouraged your dog to continually do this behavior.

In your own small ways, you could have trained your dog into climbing your shoulders consistently.

“No way! How?”

By giving them positive stimulus when they climb onto your shoulders.

You might have petted them or given them attention when they’re doing this behavior.

Positive reinforcement is the best way to train your pooch according to Debra Horwitz.

They respond well to receiving good things and would be encouraged to do activities that usually make you give them rewards.

#9: They wanna see something from a higher viewpoint

Dogs are naturally curious creatures.

They try to see, investigate, and sniff things that are new to them and would do their best to learn more about them.

Whenever your dog hears or sees something that piques their interest, it’s likely that they’ll try to get near it.

Examples of this would be insects such as flies and stink bugs.

If you’re sitting on your couch and these creatures are present near your head, they might climb onto your shoulders.

It will become easier for them to see the object or creature that interests them.

Cars, flashing lights from the outside, and seeing people outside can also pique their curiosity.

You’ll notice them jumping up on your couch and sitting on your shoulders to have a better view of what’s happening outside.

It may also be a way for them to “protect” you from these things that are foreign to them.

It’s like having a cute and fluffy guardian angel!

#10: You’re sitting on their favorite chair

Your Dog Climbs On Your Shoulders When You're Sitting On His Favorite Chair

Do you have a favorite spot in your home?

There are a number of reasons why we like that certain position.

It could be the lighting, the way the A/C hits that spot, maybe the distance to the fridge.

Whatever the reason may be, your favorite spot is where you’ll do most of the things in your house.

But this isn’t just a human thing!

Your dog could also have a favorite position within the confines of your home.

One possible reason why they chose that spot is that they watch the world outside through a nearby window.

They’d also get to see you while driving or walking on your way home.

You know how excited they’d get if you’re about to enter, right?

That spot could also be an easy lookout spot for intruders both humans and pets alike.

If this is the case, you just happened to be present in the spot they loved the most.

Pretty normal, I’d say.

Plus you get free fluffy armor!

#11: They need something from you

“Hey, hooman, help me pls! :(“

This is a pretty common scenario in homes with pets – dogs to be specific.

From time to time, they will need your help with something.

And because of this, they try to take your attention by sitting on your shoulder.

If your dog leads you somewhere else, check out the possible reason why they brought you there.

It could be that a friend of theirs wanted to enter your yard to play with them.

They need you to open the gate.

A toy might also have been stuck under the fridge or your couch and they need you to come get it.

It’s normal that they’d go to you.

If it’s not so much of a hassle, go out and help them!

7 tips on what to do if your dog climbs on your shoulders

#1: Give them ample time for play and exercise

It’s not that we don’t love them.

Nor are we deliberately forgetting the things that are important so they stay healthy.

However, there might be times when fur parents cannot make time to give their pooches enough exercise for the day even if they really tried to.

Or go out in the yard and play a quick game of fetch with them.

Of course, this is unintentional such as when an emergency pops up or there is something urgent at work.

When these things happen, it is normal for your dog to ask for playtime.

They are, after all, social creatures and love to play around with people they love and trust.

Exercise, according to research, is a way for dogs to stay healthy and disease-free

It’s also a way for them to bond with you and build a happier relationship with you.

As an estimate, dogs need to have 30 minutes to 1 hour of activity per day.

Dogs with higher levels of energy may need up to 2 hours of exercise on a daily basis.

Make sure that you feed them enough to fuel their activities set for the day.

To make things interesting and more like a learning experience for your pooch, switch up your play and exercise routines.

You can go through new hiking trails or newly opened parks.

Doggie cafes would also be a good option for your pooch to socialize with other pets.

#2: Stop encouraging the behavior

Were you accidentally training them to frequently climb up your shoulder? No worries. Now it’s time to train them to sit in their own spot.

This is especially helpful if you need your time to be alone. So you can do your daily tasks on your couch.

Working, managing a business, even online meetings and calls can be disrupted by your pet if they maintain this behavior.

Help them understand that they are not allowed to go up your shoulders anytime they want.

Train them to respond to verbal cues such as “Down” and “Sit”.

You can do this by saying the verbal cue and luring them down with a treat.

If they do go down from your shoulders, reward them.

Note: Always remember, positive reinforcement is the best way to go if you’re training a dog. This also applies to altering behavior that you want removed.

If you think that you need to seek help, licensed and experienced behaviorists can help you out.

They will be able to read the situation better and adjust the training regimen according to your dog’s needs.

#3: Give them their own spot in the house

Providing your dog their own spot can help stop them from constantly climbing your shoulder to sit and rest.

It trains them to always go back to their own corner in the house. Instead of invading our space.

To achieve that, what you can do is purchase a doggie bed for them.

Nothing too expensive, actually.

Dog beds don’t need to be pricey. Or to have a well-known brand behind them to be considered good.

After all, price doesn’t always mean good quality.

We should look at the important matters for our dogs.

Prioritizing the comfort of your pooch when choosing dog beds would be a great start.

Make sure that the materials used are breathable and won’t cause them to overheat during the summer.

Having a waterproof exterior would also help their space be easy to clean – accidental pees do happen!

The size is also an important thing to watch out for.

“How do I know the right size for my fur baby?”

It’s simple!

You measure the size of your dog first.

Start from the tip of their nose to the base of their tail.

Once you get the size, add 6”-12” (15 cm. to 30 cm.) to the measured length.

That’s going to be a good estimate of what a comfortable and spacious doggie bed would look like.

#4: Always be aware of their needs and routines

Do you want your pooch to stop trying to grab your attention? Be attentive to their needs first.

Anticipating and giving them what they require is helpful to stop them from wanting your help frequently.

Always keep track of their eating schedules.

Make sure also that you give them enough physical exercise. Plus other activities such as dog puzzles so they don’t feel bored. This will stimulate their minds.

#5: Make the best out of it

What I’m trying to say here is…

Just let your pooch be!

If they aren’t disturbing you in a major way, there is no need for you to train them to stop doing this.

Also, if they are generally safe when climbing on your shoulders and are not at risk for injuries, then it’s okay.

What you should watch out for is them climbing onto you and having aggressive behavior.

This can be dangerous for you and might need the help of a vet and expert behaviorists.

Snarling, growling, and showing teeth are all examples of behavior you don’t want to see in your lovable fur baby.

As mentioned earlier, it may also be their way of showing love and affection towards you.

They can show it in some other ways, but if they prefer climbing on shoulders, then it’s totally okay.

“If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” right?

People also ask: 

Why does my dog sit on my shoulder?

Your dog sits on your shoulder because they might be trying to show you affection or are in need of your attention.

Feelings of anxiety and fear could also be the cause of why they want to be near you.

You could have also rewarded them for sitting on your shoulder by laughing or petting them.

Why does my puppy sit on my shoulder?

Your puppy sits on your shoulder because they feel like getting close to you for warmth, snuggles, and it’s also a way for them to show you their love.

They could also be trying to grab your attention to something. Maybe they’re hungry, scared, or are in the mood for a quick walk.