Black dog steals owners seat on the sofa

Why Does My Dog Steal My Spot Everytime I Get Up?

Last updated on January 7th, 2024 at 08:26 pm

Do you have a dog who steals your spot every time you get up? You are snuggled up together watching Netflix and you get up to get snacks. When you come back, your sweet pooch is sprawled out on the couch right where you were sitting. This can be both cute and annoying.

Why does your dog steal your spot the moment you get up? Let’s explore the reasons, from pack mentality to affection, comfort seeking, and how to manage this behavior.

Why Dogs Steal Your Spot: Understanding Canine Behavior

Your dog may want to sit in a place you were just sitting for a variety of reasons. Some of it depends on how long your dog has lived with you, past experiences, and personality. Others reasons have to do with the social behavior of pack animals as well as affection, safety and comfort:

  • Affection: Your dog wants to feel close to you and your seat still has your warmth and scent.
  • Pack Mentality and Alpha Dogs: Dogs, as pack animals, often view the most comfortable spot, usually the owner’s spot, as a symbol of the pecking order. Alpha dogs, or dogs aspiring to be the alpha, might choose your spot to assert dominance.
  • Comfort and Safety: Your spot might simply be the warmest, most comfy spot. Dogs, much like their ancestors, seek out the best place for rest, often where they feel safe and protected.

Your Seat is The Throne

Two dogs stealing owners seat on recliner
Whose recliner? My dogs steal my favorite spot!

Let’s face it, anywhere you sit is the throne in your dog’s mind. Your dog assumes that where you sit or sleep is always the best spot in the house! After all, you don’t usually lay on the floor or sit in their doggie bed!

Dogs will always watch us to see what we do and to anticipate what might happen next. He will study your movements to anticipate and better understand how our actions might impact him. To learn more about this see my post, “What Do Dogs Think About When Sitting Quietly? So it is not surprising that your dog wants to sit where you sit and do all he can to reap the benefits of living with you.


If your dog has lived with you for a while, he has probably become pretty bonded to you. Therefore, he will naturally want to stick close. The seat on the sofa you just vacated smells like you and is probably still a little warm. What a great place for your pooch to wait for you to return from the kitchen and continue to watch Netflix together. And who knows, when you return with your favorite snack, you may bring one for your pal.

The Many Reasons Behind the Behavior

  • Separation Anxiety and Velcro Dogs: For some dogs, especially rescue dogs or breeds like Golden Retrievers, being close to you, in your scent, is a way to alleviate anxiety. This is common in dogs with a strong sense of smell.
  • Territorial Behaviors and Dominance: Some breeds are more territorial and may choose your spot as a way to mark their territory with their own scent. Dominant behaviors like this can be addressed through consistent dog training.
  • Natural Instincts and Ancestral Behaviors: Spot-stealing can stem from ancestral behaviors where finding the best seat in a safe place was crucial for survival.

Your Pup Needs to Be Close to You

If you have recently adopted your dog either as a puppy or from a rescue facility, your dog may still need a lot of reassurance. As he begins to trust you, he will much safer especially after living in an abusive or neglectful situation. Even if he was re-homed by a caring family, being in a shelter and losing his family is also very upsetting.

In these cases, not only will your dog jump into your seat or onto your pillow on your bed when you get up, but he may also follow you around a lot. Some people refer to this as a “velcro dog” if it seems excessive. I wrote a post on “Clingy” rescue dogs which you can read to learn more about this behavior.

Two dogs steal Mom's pillows in bed.
“Mom can sleep in the doggie bed.”

When I first brought my two rescue dogs home, they followed me around everywhere! Not only that, but they always wanted to sit next to me and would often take over my seat when I got up. After a few nights of sleeping in their own doggie bed, they both decided my bed was better! And no matter how hard I tried to get them to sleep in their own bed, by morning we were all in a dog pile together. See my humorous post, “The Argument” to read about how this came to pass.

I am pretty sure that their former family allowed them to sit on furniture and sleep on their beds. Because it seemed like second nature to them. I also think they had a high need to stick close, since they had lost their former family and spent nine months in a large kennel waiting to be adopted again. So, that is why I caved!

Separation Anxiety

If you dog always runs to your seat when you get up, especially if you are leaving the house, he may have separation anxiety. If he whimpers, shivers, shakes, or whines when you get up, he could be afraid that you are leaving him and not coming back. This is especially true for animals who have been abandoned or had a challenging past. Very young puppies can sometimes experience anxiety as well until they become more mature.

Think about providing an alternative, safe place such as a crate with lots of blankets, stuffed toys, and a hot water bottle. Leave one of your old T-shirts or socks in his crate or bed and talk in soothing tones. Leave a few treats for him, but don’t make a big deal of leaving. Read about how I dealt with my dog’s separation anxiety (and my own).

Territorial Aggression

Contrary to earlier training beliefs about “alpha dog” and “top dog” hierachies, most trainers no longer believe in the dominant dog/pack leader concepts. In fact, studies have determined that wild pack dogs actually trade off leadership roles periodically.

So, if your dog will not move and begins to growl at you when to try to reclaim your seat, this is not necessarily a sign of dominance or trying to be the “alpha” dog. More likely, he just likes this “best” spot you vacated and now he has it!

This behavior is referred to by Victoria Stillwell as “territorial aggression”. I also think of it as resource guarding. Dogs will growl as a warning that this place, food, bone, or toy is theirs now. With dogs, 90% of ownership really is possession in any particular moment. With a favorite bone or toy as an example, the dog who has it owns it. As soon as he puts it down, however, another dog can claim ownership.

I have noticed that my two dogs will often jockey for the best place to sit or lay down. And sometimes, when one of them runs out the doggie door to bark at something, the other one will steal her spot on the couch just because it seems better!

How to Manage and Redirect the Behavior

  • Effective Dog Training Articles and Basic Commands: Training your dog with basic commands is the first step. There are numerous dog training articles available that can guide you.
  • Creating a Positive Association with Their Own Spot: Encourage your dog to love their bed or a new spot. Use treats, verbal praise, and belly rubs to create a positive association.
  • Managing the Environment: Keep specific items, like remote controls or food items, out of reach to prevent counter surfing and stealing. Using an ultrasonic device can also help in managing undesirable behaviors.
  • Understanding and Addressing Separation Anxiety: If your dog’s spot-stealing is a sign of separation anxiety, addressing this through behavior modification techniques is crucial.
  • Ensuring Adequate Exercise and Mental Stimulation: Often, dogs steal items or spots due to boredom. Ensure your dog gets plenty of exercises and has fun things to do.

Both of my dogs usually jump out of my recliner when I come back with my refilled cup of coffee. However, I have been growled at a couple of times by one of my dogs who is really tired and just wants to be comfy and left alone. In fact, one night I got up to get a glass of water and came back to bed to find her on my pillow. When I tried to move her she just dug in and growled at me. So, I started to lay down on top of her. Because I am bigger, and she did not want to get squashed, she moved.

However, sitting or laying on top of your dog to get them to move may not always be the best strategy. Your dog could nip at you or you could actually hurt her by lying or sitting on her. Additionally, this may frighten your dog who is just reacting as dogs sometimes do when resource guarding.

The best thing to do is to try to coax your dog off of your seat. Give her the “off” command and reward her with a treat. Or call her into another room and engage her in a playful activity like fetch to help distract her. Try not to scold your dog or yell. She will not understand, since this seems like a perfectly natural thing to do. Just don’t fall into the misbelief that this is a struggle for dominance and you have to prove that you are the master. Dog’s really don’t think like that.

If it really becomes a problem, work with a good trainer. But in most cases, stealing your spot on the sofa is not an evil plot that your dog has planned for days. More likely, your dog simply likes being comfy, warm, close to you, and living the good life–much like you!

      Conclusion: Patience and Consistency are Key

      Dealing with your dog stealing your spot or household objects requires a bit of patience and understanding of your dog’s body language and natural instincts. With consistent training and creating a comfortable environment for your pup, you can manage and redirect this behavior effectively.

      And, hopefully, your pup will evetnually allow you to sit in your favorite chair!

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