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Why Does My Dog Sit On My Lap? 13 Real Reasons + 5 Tips

Why Does My Dog Sit On My Lap

Do you feel like your pooch is attracted to your lap?

Do they plop their bums every time you sit down?

It’s another one of the mysteries that dogs do.

Sometimes, you find it charming. 

On other days, you can’t help but wonder why. 

But I got you covered!

Continue reading to discover:

  • Why your dog sits on your lap facing away.
  • What makes them stare at you while sitting. 
  • 13 real reasons why your dog is attracted to your lap.
  • Whether you should let them sit on your lap while driving.
  • 5 helpful tips on what to do when they insist on sitting on you.
  • And a lot more…

Why does my dog sit on my lap?

Your dog sits on your lap for attention, security, warmth, bonding time, or because they’re jealous. They may also do this to rub their scent, ask for something, or to cheer you up. Other possible reasons include breed traits, reinforced behavior, separation anxiety, or showing affection.

13 reasons why your dog sits on my lap?

#1: They want your attention

“Notice me hooman!”

Perhaps you had a long day at work. And you forgot to greet your fur baby.

The first thing you do is sit on your couch for some TV time. Your pooch tries to bring you a toy but you ignore them.

And to your surprise, they suddenly sit on your lap.

What other way to distract you and notice them than fully blocking your view, right?

It’s silly but sometimes, they do this to get your attention. 

Dogs are naturally affectionate and social. When they’re left for long periods of time, they can become clingy. 

So when you’re busy and they decide to plop their butts on your lap, it simply means that they want your full attention. 

Remember to provide your doggo with enough attention and interaction. 

This way, they won’t need to do anything unusual (like sitting on your lap) just to get noticed.

If neglected, your pooch might develop attention-seeking behaviors. The most common are:

  • Barking.
  • Whining.
  • Stealing.
  • Nudging.
  • Jumping.
  • Chewing.

One behavior that can become problematic is chewing. It may lead to them destroying your shoes, furniture, and other things they can chew around the house.

To prevent this from happening, make sure to do the following:

  • Reward good behavior.
  • Spend time interacting with your dog.
  • Provide enough exercise and mental stimulation.

Check out also: Dog Suddenly Being Destructive: 7 Reasons + 10 Proven Tips

#2: It’s part of their breed trait

“I was born to be a lap magnet!”

For some of our beloved pups, it’s part of their trait to sit on your lap.

Can you guess what they’re called? If your answer is lap dog, then you’re absolutely correct!

Lap dogs usually love to snuggle close to their humans. This is why most of them prefer to sit on their human’s lap.

The most common lap dogs include:

If you notice, most of these are tiny pups. But there are also large dog breeds who think they can fit in your lap despite their size.

These are the gentle giants who will be more than happy to snuggle with you:

  • Mastiffs.
  • Great Dane.
  • St. Bernard.
  • Newfoundlands.
  • Irish Wolfhound.
  • Bernese Mountain Dogs.

Just look at this funny video compilation of big dogs thinking they’re lap dogs:

#3: They want to protect you

“This lap is mine to protect!”

As the main provider of their food and shelter, some dogs will think it’s their job to protect you.

And that’s exactly the reason why they sit on your lap. When they stay close to you, they can also keep you safe.

In fact, researchers showed that even without prior training, dogs have the natural instinct to protect their humans.

Being on your lap also allows them to have a clear view of anything that will come close to you. 

This gives them the benefit of knowing when you’re about to be in danger.

Our loyal companions are so dedicated that they’ll put themselves as guards just to keep us safe.

But if your dog shows signs of aggression while protecting you. Then they may have developed a behavior called resource guarding.

Some dogs would react aggressively when they think there’s a threat to something they find valuable.

This can be dangerous when they’re willing to bite or fight just to keep it safe.

The most obvious signs of this are:

  • Biting.
  • Lunging.
  • Growling.
  • Snapping on air.

AKC advises that it’s best to train them early to prevent resource guarding to develop.

Other ways to prevent this behavior include:

  • Socializing them properly.
  • Letting them eat or chew in peace.
  • Asking help from a professional trainer.
  • Teaching the drop it and leave it method.
  • Training them with desensitization and counter-conditioning.

#4: They feel safe around you

“This lap is my safety blanket.”

Remember as a child when we would sit on our parent’s lap and feel comfortably safe?

This is how dogs feel too. Some dogs just love to sit on your lap so that they can feel secure.

Simply being able to feel your presence can bring comfort to them. 

They may do this when they feel nervous or fearful. So it’s best to let them be on your lap when you notice this is the reason.

If you want to know when your pooch feels anxious, pay attention to their body language.

Several signs to look out for include:

  • Yawning.
  • Cowering.
  • Lip licking.
  • Flattened ears.
  • Avoiding eye contact.
  • Tail tucked between legs.

To prevent fear in dogs, it’s important to keep them away from anything that may cause this.

AKC mentioned that there are 4 categories of fear in dogs. These are:

  • Sound phobias.
  • Situational phobia.
  • Fear of strangers.
  • Blood Injection phobia.

Important fact: A study found that dogs that show fear in loud or sudden noises should be routinely checked for pain by vets.

Fortunately, there’s something pet parents can do to help their dogs overcome their fears. 

And it starts with asking for advice from a professional trainer.

#5: They’re rubbing their scent on you

“Must make this hooman smell like me!”

Another reason your pup sits on your lap is they’re spreading their scent on you.

As odd as that sounds, some dogs do this to mark you. By doing this, other dogs would be able to smell your pup’s scent on you.

You may also notice them doing this when you’ve returned with the scent of another animal on you.

It’s their adorable way of showing other animals that they’re the only dog in your heart.

On the other hand, they may also do this because they want your familiar scent on them.

Did you know that dogs feel pleasure in the smell of a familiar human? Researchers even proved this to be true.

Reading tip: Why does my dog sleep on my stomach?

#6: They’re seeking for warmth

“My hooman’s lap feels like a heated blanket!”

Does your pooch climb on your lap during colder seasons?

If they do, they simply like your lap because they want to keep themselves warm.

To them, it’s like hitting two birds with one stone. I mean, they get to keep warm and be comforted by your scent.

But note that it’s still important to protect your pup from the cold. 

Even if dogs have coats, they still might feel chilly during the winter season.

Here are things you can do to keep your dog warm:

  • Limit time outdoors during winter.
  • Provide them with heated dog pads.
  • Consider getting them winter dog shoes.
  • Give them warm clothing or extra blankets.

There are also dog breeds that are more sensitive to the cold. And these are the following:

  • Pug.
  • Boxer.
  • Beagle.
  • Bull Dog.
  • Chihuahua.
  • Great Dane.
  • Dachshund.
  • Rottweilers.
  • French Bulldog.
  • Doberman Pinscher.

#7: They want to bond with you

Your Dog Sits On Your Lap To Bond With You

“It’s time to bond with my hooman.”

We all know that bonding is a great way to build your relationship with your pooch.

That’s why it’s sometimes okay to allow them to sit on your lap. It’s just their way of spending time with you.

This also allows them to be as close to you as possible. And that gives them the opportunity to ask for a lot of petting and cuddles.

This is because most dogs like to have physical contact with their humans. And of course, most of us enjoy it too.

Interesting fact: A study showed that physical contact plays a huge role in strengthening the bond between people and dogs.

Do you know if you have a strong or weak bond with your pooch?

Check for the following signs whether you need to build the doggy connection or not:

Strong bondWeak bond
Desires to be near youRegular attempts to run off
Willingness to protect youAvoids your presence
Loves physical interactionDistaste for being touched
Listens to commands without hesitationFailure to respond to commands
High level of focus and frequently looks at youPoor focus and eye contact

#8: They’re jealous

“This lap is mine.”

Do you notice your pooch hopping on your lap when other dogs are around? 

It could mean that they’re jealous. And only want your attention to themselves.

Sometimes, they simply want us and don’t want to share that with other pets or people.

Most of the time, dogs get jealous due to changes in their environment. This includes new:

  • Pets.
  • Routine.
  • Baby or child.
  • Neighborhood.
  • Family members.

It’s important to correct jealous behaviors as soon as possible. But remember never to scold or punish your canine.

Instead, here are a few tips you can do to deal with behavior:

  • Reward good behavior.
  • Regular training practice.
  • Ignore unwanted behavior.
  • Be consistent with routines.
  • Include new pets or people in activities.

#9: It’s a behavior that has been reinforced

“My hooman trained me to do this.”

We’ve all been probably guilty of this. Sometimes, we unintentionally teach our pups to do unwanted behaviors.

For example, your dog jumps on your lap and you snuggle with them in return.

To dogs, any form of attention is considered a reward. So by snuggling with them, you actually oven them exactly what they want.

In the dog’s point of view, they’ll think it’s a good thing to do since they were given attention.

And the moment they jump on another person’s lap, you get mad. The thing is, they don’t know the difference. 

All they know is that they were given a reward the first time they did it. 

So when the dog repeats the behavior, most pet parents would complain that it has become problematic. 

When in fact, we were actually the ones who encouraged them to do it.

It’s worth noting that we should be aware of our own actions. Especially during times when our pups are displaying unwanted behavior.

We should reward them at the exact moment they’re doing the behavior we want them to do. 

With this, they will learn that certain behaviors can lead to good results.

#10: They want to cheer you up

“I hope this makes my hooman feel better.”

Did you know that dogs can sense when we feel sad? They’re actually very in tune with our feelings.

When your beloved companion has been with you for quite a while, they’ll become aware of your daily movements and emotions.

They can easily sense how we feel. And would know when we’re feeling off.

So if you notice them climbing on your lap at a time you’re feeling low, it’s just their way to make you feel better.

They might even add in a few sloppy kisses and a slight rise of their paw.

Dogs are such loving creatures that they would do anything just to cheer us up.

Researchers also proved this to be true. In the study, 34 pet dogs and their owners were separated and put in between a clear door. 

The owners were instructed to either hum or cry. And the dogs who heard their owner’s cry, opened the door three times faster than those with owners who hummed.

This shows how our furry friends will go through any barrier just to help us and make sure we’re okay.

#11: They’re asking for something

“You won’t be able to resist this warm bum.”

Does your dog sit on your lap and stare at you with their irresistible puppy eyes? 

Well, they probably want something that you have. Maybe a new toy or a snack.

Or maybe they’re bored and asking for some playtime.

Either way, they do it to tell you that they want something. And hope that you’ll give it to them by plopping their bums in your lap.

But if you want to understand more what your dog wants, it’s best to learn how to read their body language.

For example, I know my little pup wants some ear scratches and belly rubs when she jumps on my lap.

Other dogs may also put their paws on your leg to ask for treats.

Understanding your dog’s body language can also help you predict their behavior and prevent problems in the future.

#12: They have separation anxiety

“I don’t want you to leave.”

Some dogs may learn that staying on your lap would make it hard for you to move and stand up.

And your pooch might think that this could stop you from leaving.

You might be thinking they’re just being clingy. But clinginess may develop into separation anxiety.

And if not properly addressed can be a problem because dogs may engage in destructive behavior.

So to help your dog overcome separation anxiety, you should:

  • Go to a professional trainer for advice.
  • Be low-key when leaving and coming home.
  • Give them a toy or snack each time you leave.
  • Ignore them for a few minutes after getting home.
  • Leave some of your used clothes that smell like you.

#13: They‘re showing affection

Your Dog Is Showing Affection

“I love you more than anything.”

Sometimes, the simplest reason is the most real. For example, your beloved dog could simply be doing it to show you how much they adore you.

We often forget that we’re our best bud’s entire world. And they just want to give and receive affection.

Sitting on your lap is a nice way to do that. This is also an opportunity for them to cuddle with you.

So the next time you find your doggo climbing on your lap, let them be. It could be one of their many ways to tell you they love you.

Dog insists on sitting on my lap: 5 tips 

#1: Let them sit on your lap

Since this behavior usually comes from a place of love, let your pooch be.

There’s nothing wrong with letting them stay on your lap as long as you’re both comfortable.

If you think they’re doing it out of love, then give them all the affection they want.

Take it as a compliment that your dog likes sitting on you. It just shows that they enjoy your company.

#2: Train them with a command

You can also train your dog when it’s okay to sit on your lap. One way to do this is to stand up when they’re about to climb on you.

Stand up repeatedly when they attempt to do it again. Once they stop, you can sit down.

And then, you can use a hand gesture such as tapping your lap. Do this while saying a command like “come” or “lap”. 

This way, they can learn that they can only sit on your lap when you give the command.

#3: Teach them to sit where you want them to

When sitting on your lap becomes a problem, you can also teach your dog to sit where you want them to.

Rather on your lap, you can teach them to sit beside you instead. Or you can teach them to go back to their spot.

It also helps to make the spot you want it to sit in comfort. This is to encourage them to go there.

But take note that whether you decide to let them sit on your lap or not, it’s important to stay consistent with the rules. 

This is to prevent your pooch from being confused.

#4: Provide them with enough attention

As mentioned before, your pooch may insist on sitting on your lap to get your attention.

That’s why it will be helpful to provide them with the attention they need daily.

You can do this by scheduling playtime and giving them enough exercise.

Remember that a tired dog is a happy dog. And staying active can prevent them from doing any attention-seeking behavior.

#5: Make sure they’re safe

There may also be times when you’re driving, and your pooch decides to sit on your lap.

This can be dangerous both for you and your dog. It may cause accidents, and your pet becomes vulnerable to being crushed.

A survey even revealed that 65% of dog owners engage in potentially distracting activity while driving with their dogs.

It’s the same way as to why you should never let a child sit in the front seat.

Dogs should always be in a safety harness or in a secured carrier at the back of the car.

People also ask: 

Why does my dog sit on my lap facing away?

When your dog sits on your lap with their backside facing you, it means they respect and trust you. They do this to show you that they’re comfortable enough to be vulnerable to you.

Dogs use their mouth as a weapon, and by facing away from you, their mouths are also far from you. 

It’s a sign that they won’t attack you and that they trust you to do the same.

It’s the same way they communicate with other dogs. When they feel relaxed around another dog, they tend to turn away as a signal of friendliness.

So if your pooch does this, don’t react negatively. It’s just proof of the strong bond you two share.

Why does my dog sit on my lap when I drive?

When your dog sits on your lap while driving, they may be feeling anxious. To them, your lap is the safest place they can find inside the car. So they sit there to find comfort and protection.

But did you know that letting them sit on your lap while driving is a form of distracted driving?

As mentioned above, this is very dangerous. It may be tempting but it’s better to keep your pooch restrained.

One pet parent had the problem of her pup getting nauseous during car rides. 

But stays calm when the dog is staying in his lap. It was an ongoing problem until he decided to not let the pooch eat before driving.

The dog was safely put in a crate with the owner’s used closed inside. This solved everything.

Why does my dog sit on my lap in the car?

Your dog may sit on your lap in the car because they might be afraid of car rides. Some may associate a car with a negative experience. So they sit on your lap as a cry for help.

This happens when the only time they ride a car is when they’re going on a trip to the vet.

What you can do for your pooch is use positive reinforcement. 

You can use treats to encourage them to go inside.

You can also spend some special bonding time with them in the car. 

Start with short trips, and don’t start the engine until your dog feels comfortable inside.

Taking them to fun destinations can help them overcome their fear of cars.

Just remember to be patient and consistent, and your dog will feel comfortable in no time.

Common situations:

#1: Puppy sitting on your lap

Your puppy sits on your lap because they find comfort in your presence. They also do this when they’re anxious, lonely, bored, or even when they just need some extra pet and snuggles.

#2: My dog sits on my lap all the time

Your dog sits on your lap all the time because they want to bond with you, to show affection, they want to protect you, they feel safe around you, or because they got used to it.

#3: My dog sits on my lap and stares at me

Your dog sits on your lap and stares at you because they want something from you, they’re getting your attention or they’re waiting for praise or affection.