Last updated on November 13th, 2023 at 05:55 pm
Do you have a dog who likes to sit on you? If so, you are not alone. My dog loves sitting in my lap, especially on chilly mornings. A lot of dogs, both large and small love to sit on their owner’s lap. Just as you settle into your favorite easy chair for the evening, your furry pal may decide it is time to join you and keep you company.
Most dogs sit on their owner’s lap as a way to show affection and to feel connected. Your dog may be signaling that you are part of his pack, and she feels safe with you. Sitting on your lap can also mean that your dog:
- Enjoys the warmth and comfort
- Wants to feel close and this is a sign of affection
- May be feeling insecure
- Feels he is part of the pack
- Is practicing a learned behavior
- Wants to get your attention
- Thinks your chair is the most comfortable spot
Keep reading to learn more about what your dog is telling you by sitting on your lap.
Understanding the Way Dogs Show Affection: Why Does Your Dog Choose Your Lap?
The bond between dogs and their humans is truly special. For many pet owners, having their furry friends sit on their laps is a heartwarming experience. Whether you have a lap dog or a larger breed, this act is more than just seeking physical contact; it’s a testament to the deep connection and trust between you and your loyal companion.
Recent studies have shown that dogs, as social animals, thrive on physical contact. When your dog sits on your lap, they are expressing their need for warmth, affection, and attention. This behavior is deeply ingrained in their pack mentality, where staying close to family members ensures safety and security. Dogs are intuitive creatures; they can sense when you’re feeling down or anxious and will seek your lap as a source of comfort, much like a child seeking solace in a parent’s embrace.
A scientific study demonstrated by measuring dogs’ heart rates, that our dogs love to cuddle and lean on us which includes sitting on our laps. Dogs do not necessarily like or understand hugs, as that may feel too confining and restrictive. But they do love touching, cuddling, connecting and sitting on our lap as one of their preferred ways to be close to us.
Your Lap is Warm and Dog Piles are Cozy!
Often a dog wants to sit in your lap to get warm. My two medium-sized dogs love to jump into my lap when I settle into my recliner in the early morning to sip my coffee. Usually, it is a bit chilly, especially in the winter, and they want to warm up and snuggle in.
And, we, as dog parents, often love it as well. For me, there is nothing sweeter than sitting back in my recliner with a hot cup of coffee and my two dogs on my lap on a cold morning. We are snuggled up like three bugs in a rug keeping each other warm and safe. You may find that your dog also likes to lay on you at night, as a way to stay close.
It is natural for dogs who are very social, pack animals, to curl up and lay down together to keep each other warm and safe. They are more protected from the elements as well as potential prey animals. Dogs’ bodies put out a lot of heat and having “layers” of dogs on top of you can be as good as several thick blankets. They keep each other warm as well as you.
And this behavior is not limited to a small dog. Even a large dog like a Great Dane or golden retrievers often want to sit in their pet parent’s lap! My sister has a Golden Retriever who often sat in her lap as a puppy. Now, a year and 60 pounds later, he still loves to jump into her lap even though he barely fits!
Your Dog Is Trying to Connect and Show Affection
When your dog sits in your lap, he is signaling that he wants to connect. What better way than to snuggle up as close as possible to the most important person in his life. Be sure to see my post about Why Does Your Dog Like to Sit Close to You? for more about this snuggle behavior.
In essence, when your dog sits on your lap, it is their way of expressing love, trust, warmth, and affection. So the next time your pooch does that, smile, pat them affectionately, and enjoy the warmth of the bond you share.
Does this Dog Behavior Indicate Insecurity? People and Their Pets Exploring the Truth
Your Pooch May be Feeling Anxious
Sometimes if my dogs get spooked at something and are really agitated, they may come charging over to where I am sitting and try to jump onto my lap. It seems that they are trying to let me know that something is up and we should all be on guard together.
Stanley Cohen, Ph.D., cites a study that measured dogs’ heart rates when stressed or startled. When a dog was in a room alone, and a stranger entered, the dog’s heart rates increased significantly. But when his owner entered, the dogs’ heart rates lowered. Clearly, the dogs were comforted by their owner’s presence.
When Dogs Are Sick They Seek Comfort from Us
When dogs are not feeling well, putting a paw on us or sitting very close is not unusual. I have noticed that my dogs want to sit on my lap more when they are not feeling well. They don’t want to play; they just want to snuggle and allow me to stroke them. When one of my dogs went through cancer treatment, she was quieter and more clingy than usual. She is fine now but still enjoys sitting on my lap when she is cold or exhausted.
Newly Adopted Dogs Want to Feel More Connected and Look to You for Security
If you have a newly adopted rescue or shelter dog, he may need to feel connected to you as you are the new security blanket. It is not unusual for a dog to have separation anxiety after living in a shelter and then going to a new home.
He is in a strange new place in your home, and you are now his protector and center of his world. If he has been traumatized by past experiences, he may now be clinging to you due to prolonged stress and fear. See my post, “Why Is My New Rescue Dog So Clingy “ for more information about how to help an insecure dog. You may also want to read “How to Comfort and Heal a Rescue Dog”. for a comprehensive article about adopting and raising rescue dogs.
As a devoted dog lover, it’s essential to understand your dog’s body language and behavior. When your dog sits on your lap, they are communicating their love, trust, and a desire to be part of your daily routine. For new dog owners, especially those with rescue pups, this behavior might indicate a need for reassurance and a sense of belonging in their new home.
Being part of the Pack
As pack animals, dogs hunt and eat together, rest together, and sleep on top of each other at night. There is safety in numbers and dogs also like to stay socially connected. The best way to stay connected is to gather, huddle, and cuddle together during their normal routines.
When your dog sits in your lap and stays close to you, he is signaling that you are part of his pack. You are very important and he feels safe with you. Your family dog has now chosen you and he is a content, happy dog!
Sitting in Your Lap May Be a Learned Behavior–More than Just a Cozy Spot?
Not all dogs like sitting on laps. It simply isn’t comfortable for them. They would rather stretch out on the floor or in their own doggie bed. But some dogs learn to like sitting on laps and can be trained to do so.
Many smaller dogs have been bred to be lap dogs to keep their owners warm and to provide companionship. Pekinese breeds were bred thousands of years ago by the Chinese for this purpose. So, it is more natural for them. But even some large breeds such as Great Danes, love to leap onto their owner’s laps. These “gentle giants” don’t realize how big they are and how small your lap can be in comparison.
But some dogs need to be coaxed and trained as this may seem foreign to them. Once trained to sit in laps, however, many dogs come to enjoy it especially if they are praised and see it as good behavior that their owner likes.
Your Dog May Jump into Your Lap to Get Your Attention
Professional dog trainers with years of hands-on experience often emphasize the importance of positive reinforcement in understanding and addressing a dog’s behavior. Whether your dog jumps onto your lap to seek protection, warmth, or attention, responding with compassionate advice and praise can strengthen your bond with your furry friend.
I have noticed that my dogs jump up into my lap if I have been ignoring them for a long time. I spend a lot of time reading the news on my iPad and writing on my computer. If one of them decides they want something they will try to jump up into my lap and knock the iPad or keyboard onto the floor. It can really be quite annoying at times!
Yet, it is also humorous and I am sometimes intrigued at how ingenious they become at trying to get my attention. They are probably the most persistent around dinner time. Heaven help us if I forget to feed them their evening meal!
Your Chair is the Throne!
Dogs have a knack for wanting to sit wherever we sit. In their mind, the best seat in the house is our seat. I wrote a post entitled, Why Does My Dog Steal My Spot When I Get Up to demonstrate this very point. Dogs always think that whatever we eat, where we sleep, and where we sit are the best and they want it too! In fact, my dog growls at me if I try to move her from my favorite chair!
In today’s age of social media and constant distractions, spending quality time with your dog, even in the form of a simple lap-sitting session, can significantly improve both your and your pet’s well-being. Remember, being the top dog in your dog’s life is not just a title; it’s a responsibility that involves understanding their unique needs, body language, and emotions.
So, the next time your dog sits on your lap, cherish the moment. It’s not just about them finding a cozy spot; it’s a silent conversation of love and trust, reminding you of the extraordinary connection you share with your four-legged family member.
I notice that my dogs sometimes fall asleep on my lap in the early evening. I can tell by their mild snoring and twitching which signals that they are sound asleep in doggie dreamland! By the way, if you have ever wondered what dogs dream about (yes, they dream just like we do), be sure to get our free eBook, Dog Dreams to learn more.
If you enjoy your dog sitting in your lap, think of it as a blessing. This little furry creature is letting you know that he trusts and loves you and wants to connect. I cannot think of a greater honor than having the devotion and attention of a sweet little being who wants to be your loyal companion!
Deanna Euritt is a dedicated dog enthusiast with over three decades of experience in raising and training a diverse range of dogs, including many rescue pups. Her practical expertise is rooted in real-life experiences, where she has successfully navigated the challenges of nurturing rescue dogs into confident, well-adjusted companions. Residing in Northern California, Deanna’s days are filled with adventures along trails and beaches with her beloved dogs, Charlotte and Georgia. In her writing, she offers insightful, compassionate advice to fellow dog lovers, leveraging her extensive personal journey in the world of dog care and training. See About Us.