Dog sitting in man's lap in park

7 Reasons Why Your Dog Likes to Sit on Your Lap

Do you have a dog who likes to sit on your lap? If so, you are not alone. 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. When your dog sits on 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.

However, there are some other reasons as well. Keep reading to learn more about what your dog is telling you by sitting on your lap.

Introduction — Sitting On Our Laps is Primarily a Sign of Affection

Dogs love to cuddle and be close to us. Even though dogs do not like to be hugged as it feels too confining, they love to sit very close and, in particular, love to sit on our laps.

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.

Here are 7 reasons why your dog may want to sit on your lap:

  • Warmth and comfort
  • He is feeling insecure
  • Wanting to feel close
  • His way of being part of the pack
  • It is a learned behavior
  • Your dog wants attention
  • Your chair is the most comfortable spot

Dog Piles are Natural and Your Lap is Warm and 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. I have noticed that in the summer, they often prefer to lay on the back porch in the sun and are less interested in my lap. I try not to let my feelings get hurt!

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.

Your Dog May be Feeling Insecure

Sometimes if my dogs get spooked at something and are really agitated, they may come charging over to my 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 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.

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. 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.

Your Dog Is Trying to Connect and Be Close to You

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.

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.

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.

Being part of the Pack

Pack of white Husky pups on a long in the forest
Pack of Husky pups sitting closely together in the forest.

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.

Sitting in Your Lap May Be a Learned Behavior

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

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!

Corgi sitting in owners chair as if it is a 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 seem to think that whatever we eat, where we sleep, and where we sit are the best and they want it too!

Final Thoughts

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!

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