Collie sitting next to older married couple on porch

Why Does My Dog Like to Sit Close to Me?

Last updated on February 18th, 2023 at 06:03 pm

A lot of dogs like to lay or sit really close to their owners. They may lay at your feet, sit next to your chair, or snuggle up with you on the couch. We often take this for granted assuming that our dogs simply like us and want to be close.

But there may be other reasons for this behavior. Your dog certainly wants to stay close to you as you are the key member of his pack. But other factors may be involved.

If your dog likes to sit close to you it is probably for one or more of the following reasons:

  • He is claiming you as “his person”
  • Your dog feels comforted by your presence
  • Sitting close is a way of guarding you
  • He may feel more secure knowing you are close
  • Your dog may feel more relaxed being connected
  • He may be feeling anxious about something
  • An older dog may sit close due to increased needs

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You are His “Person”

Dogs often sit close to their owner as a way of claiming them. By sitting next to your chair or place on the sofa, your dog says, “you are mine!” We think of our dogs as ‘ours’, but they also think of us as ‘theirs’. Our dogs identify with us as the key member in their pack who are given a high priority and are critical to their well-being. We are our dog’s primary resource for food, comfort, safety, activity, and just about everything else in their lives.

When I first adopted my two rescue dogs, they always woke up early and tried to get me awake and out of bed. Since everything was new and a daily routine had not yet been established, they were very anxious about their breakfast. They wanted to make sure that I would get up and feed them. When dinner time rolled around, they went through the same antics to get my attention that it was now time to eat again!

After three years, they are now very content to sleep in with me until I decide to get up. They are much less worried and know that they can count on me to give them their two squares a day!

Your Dog is Comforted by Your Presence

Dogs are very social creatures, which is why we have brought them into our homes for thousands of years, They comfort us and we comfort them. We are each a part of one another’s family and circle of important beings. Dogs often sit on our feet or may try to sit on our lap if we allow it, as a way of getting close.

I have noticed that one of my dogs really enjoys leaning and sitting against my recliner each morning as I sip my coffee. She sits with her back against my chair for no apparent reason other than to hang out with me. She will simply stare off into space and seem very content to sit there for the first 30 minutes or so after her breakfast. Sometimes I will be dangling my hand and may pet or scratch her. If I stop, she looks up to see if I am still there paying attention to her.

I have been curious as to why she does not lie down and make herself more comfortable. But I think she sits up because she has recently gotten out of bed and wants to be alert to anything that might be going on. She is usually in a good position to keep an eye on the front door, but she does not seem to be overly concerned with anything. She seems very content to simply stay close and hang out with me for a while.

Your Dog May Sit Close to You to Guard You

Some dogs stay close to their owners because they think it is their duty to guard them. This is especially true of Border Collies, Shepherds, and Australian Heelers. One of my dogs who is part Cattle Dog often stays close to me, especially late at night as a way to keep an eye on the slider to the backyard, the front door, and me.

She barks at any odd noises and becomes hyper-vigilant if she senses any outside activity that is not normal. Often while we are peacefully watching something on Netflix, my dog will suddenly leap off the couch, over my feet, and charge through the doggie door like a bullet! Some critter is probably scurrying around by our fence, and by gosh, she is going to get it! After several minutes when she is convinced that she scared it away, she will come running back, push through the doggie door, jump up on the sofa, and lay her head on my lap keeping a watchful eye on the door.

Never a dull moment in our house!

Dogs Need to Feel Close to Us

Like us, dogs are very social. And, just as we enjoy the comfort of being close to loved ones, so do our dogs. Most of us feel more secure and at ease when we are with our close friends and family members. Dogs are the same. They tend to stay with their pack in the wild, and this instinctive behavior continues as household pet behavior.

Dogs are not meant to be isolated and become very depressed and anxious when they have been alone for too long. The worse thing we can do is to adopt a dog and then never pay attention to him. We are his only family. We have friends, family, work, and activities, but our dog only has us!

Dogs Feel More Relaxed Hanging Out with Us

When everyone is together all is well. Your dog doesn’t have to worry about whether or not you are alright if you are with him, sitting next to him. He knows all is well if he is lying next to you and he can relax.

This is especially true for working dogs who feel it is their duty to round everybody up. If everyone in the family is sitting in the same room where he can keep a keen eye on everybody, he has done his job!

Your Dog May be Feeling Anxious

There are two reasons your dog may feel anxious if he cannot be close to you:

  1. He may be having some separation anxiety when you are gone and will cling to you when you come home. This is especially true for shelter and rescue dogs. They have usually been through a lot already, and you are now the most important person in their lives. They don’t want to lose you and they may worry that things could change for them again in a bad way. You can deal with this by establishing daily routines, especially regarding your coming and going, so they will get used to the idea of you being gone for short periods. See my post, Separation Anxiety–Mine and My Dog’s for more about this.
  2. Your dog might be frightened about some unusual noise or situation. My dogs are terrified of loud noises such as fireworks and thunderstorms. They will literally jump on the sofa on top of me if they hear fireworks on days like the 4th of July. They both huddle as close to me as they can with their eyes wide open. I talk to them reassuringly, give them Rescue Remedy, and stroke them. I have also considered buying ThunderShirts for them which are compression vests that help a dog feel more secure. You can see both of these products as Chewy.

Older Dogs May Need More Comfort

As dogs grow older, they develop more aches and pains like we all do. As a result, they may feel more vulnerable and are reassured by being closer to us. If your elderly dog suddenly seems to cling to you more than usual, pay attention to what may be going on with him. You may want to schedule a vet visit to determine if he has a new medical problem.

This is especially true for dogs who are losing their vision or hearing or experiencing extreme pain. We all need more connection as we grow older, and your dog is no different.

Final Thoughts

Having a loving, loyal dog who wants to be close is a true blessing for us. Pay attention to your dog’s needs and reasons for wanting to be close to you. It may or may not be normal. He may have special needs that require some intervention. But he may also truly love you and is showing his loyalty. What a great friend to have around!

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