Tan colored dog standing high roof of house

Why Do Dogs Like to Be in High Places?

Does your small-sized dog sit on top of the sofa and look out the window? Or perhaps your guard dog sits on top of his dog house and peers over the fence. Dogs love to be in high places. Sometimes it is obvious why–there is something they want to see or take a look at, but there may be other reasons.

Dogs are very bright, and they are good at finding the best vantage points to suit their needs at a given moment. Dogs who love high places (and that is most dogs), have various reasons to get as high as they can. Here are 7 reasons why:

  • They simply want a better view
  • Many dogs want to guard their territory
  • Dogs are curious by nature
  • High places offer better safety and security
  • A dog may want to escape from an annoying critter or child
  • Dogs like to sit on furniture because that is where we sit
  • Sometimes it is just fun!

Cute terrior sitting on top of a couch looking out the window
A cute white west highland terrier dog sitting on the top of a couch, looking out of a window

A Room with a View

A lot of dogs will jump on top of furniture to get a better look at what’s going on outside their window. Small dogs in particular like to climb up on things so they can see better. It is hard to watch the world go by from the floor if you are only 6 or 8 inches tall!

My medium-sized dogs love to jump on the bed to look out the back window across our yard and beyond. It is a great view where they can see people walking their dogs in the park near our house. They also like the street view on the other side of the house and often jump on top of the sofa bed to get a better look. But sometimes their favorite place is halfway down the staircase where they can lie down and look over the fence line through the sliding glass door.

BBrown dog sitting high on the stairwell

While I read the daily news from my iPad, they watch the daily news as it occurs in their neighborhood! Be sure to read my post, A Dog’s Newspaper for a whimsical view of how dogs keep up on current events.

Guarding their Territory

Most dogs, but especially shepherds and cattle dogs, keep watch and guard their territory. This is mostly instinctual and characteristic of wild dogs who take turns protecting their pack by looking out for predators.

Dogs in the wild often rotate their watch and take turns sitting on hilltops or other elevated areas above their den. Because the eyesight of dogs is not nearly as good as their hearing or smelling capabilities, they engage all their senses to help protect their clan. Putting eyes on what they may be hearing or seeing is an important part of guarding and staying vigilant.

Dogs are Curious

Like us, dogs simply want to know what is going on in their world. Every little bird that flies by or snap of a twig gets their attention. They love to explore and investigate their territory.

To that end, my dogs love to run around in their back first thing every morning to see who has been in their yard the night before. Therefore, they check the entire perimeter of the yard, jump up on the outdoor bench, and sometimes jump on the fence to see what might be up there. Their favorite perch is on the mat outside our patio door where they usually keep watching for at least the first couple of hours each morning.

A dog's work is never done --Charlotte and Georgia Guarding their yard

Dogs Sometimes Need to Find a Place that Feels Safe

Dogs do not like to be cornered in places where they can’t escape. A higher place gives them an advantage if needed to jump and run away if they feel threatened. Sometimes the stairwell or rooftop can feel much safer than lying on the floor with a poor vantage point.

Both of my dogs hate the vet, but one more so than the other. She will do everything she can to escape the clutches of the evil veterinarian and tech team. She will jump on top of tables and chairs and would leap through the window if she could get close enough. We have learned to give her a lot of space to move around and avoid backing her into corners. Our very sensitive vet usually gets down in the middle of the floor with her with treats in hand. I often let her sit on my lap or a nearby chair to give her a greater sense of safety.

Do Not Disturb!

Sometimes dogs jump onto higher places to avoid annoying puppies, children, or other critters who disrupt their peace of mind. Rather than growling or engaging in more aggressive behavior, sometimes moving to higher ground solves the problem.

When I recently took my older dogs (9 years old) to visit a friend and her two-year-old large dog, they really did not want to engage with him. After running around the yard together with this youthful pup sniffing their butts and trying to play, they finally came charging back to me and jumped on my lap. Problem solved!

Dogs Love to Sit On Furniture With Us

Why would a dog want to lie on the floor, when he could sit up on the couch next to us? It is probably a little more comfy and he can be close to his beloved owner.

Dogs learn early on that the places in which we sit or lay down are the most comfortable. Sure, they have a cushy doggie bed that we spent a pretty penny on, but there is nothing like human furniture. It is higher, it is comfy, and it is where we are–their most important resource!

Sometimes Sitting in High Places is Just Fun

When I sit at the park with my dogs, I watch the kids climb to the top of the slides and other play structures. When they get to the top, they often squeal with delight before they slide down to the bottom. High places are just plain fun!

I am always amused when my dogs hang out on the stairwell or on the sofa. One of my dogs, who has a lot of pug DNA sometimes makes me laugh when she jumps onto my lap and then decides to tiptoe onto the arm of the chair and then crawl onto my shoulders and the back of the chair over to the other side. Why she didn’t just cross over my lap to the other side is totally perplexing. Instead, she must think she is a cat who has to find the highest route to get to her destination.

Final Thoughts

Dogs’ behavior is sometimes very curious. But, more often than not, it really makes sense. Standing guard, finding safety, trying to get a better view, and sometimes trying to have a little fun are pretty good reasons for seeking higher ground.