Why does my dog keep standing over me? He always stands in my lap!

dog sitting on owner

Is your dog the type that loves to jump up on the couch and stand over you? Some dogs have this habit of standing over you rather than sitting in your lap, or laying in your lap. But why do they keep doing this? What does it mean?

Why does your dog stand on you?

Well, this could mean a few different things. When our dogs do something that confuses us, it’s because it makes sense to them—in their doggy world. Dogs do all sorts of things that aren’t normal to us because it's a part of how they communicate as dogs, and is a part of their natural instincts.

It’s kind of like we’re speaking two different languages, and we have to figure out how to translate what our dogs are trying to communicate to us.

If your dog frequently tries to stand on you, on your chest, over you, or in your lap… there’s a couple of different things they might be trying to communicate to you. Let’s talk about what those reasons could be.

owner hugging dog

Your dog wants some extra affection

One reason that your dog is standing on you could be that they are trying to be affectionate with you. They might want your attention. And they might want to receive some much desired petting. Some dogs like to snuggle up with their humans. And they might be trying to ask for some snuggle time by jumping up in your lap and standing on you.  

Dogs do need a lot of attention because they are very relational creatures. Keep in mind that some dog breeds need more attention than others. If you know the type of dog you have, check out their specific breed’s personality traits. This is especially helpful when you’re trying to decide on which new doggy to add to your family.

Know your dog’s natural habits

You can learn all about the different breed’s personalities to figure out which dog breed would be the best fit with your personality. There is a ton of dog breed information on the American Kennel Club’s website.

It will show you your dog’s typical level of playfulness, how much mental stimulation they need, how high their energy level is, and how affectionate they are. This information will help you learn your dog’s wants and needs. And you’ll be able to better translate what your dog is trying to communicate.

If your dog is a mixed breed, check out both or all breeds that they are mixed with. And keep in mind that your dog may lean toward one of their breeds more than the other.

dog and owner

Your dog is trying to be the pack leader

To be honest, this could likely be what’s going on. Typically, if your dog just wants some comfort and snuggles, they will lay down in your lap, or lay on your chest. But if they are standing on you—or over you—they could be trying to assert their dominance.

This isn’t to say that your dog is trying to be mean or aggressive. What I’m saying is that dogs are used to living in packs—with a pack leader. Even domesticated dogs instinctively feel the need to be a part of a pack, and to know who the pack leader is.

If you haven’t intentionally established yourself as the pack leader, your pup might try to assume the role as the alpha. Even if your dog really doesn’t want this role, they have such a strong need for someone to be the pack leader.

Time to become the leader of the pack

But don’t worry, this behavior can be fixed. And keep in mind… if you don’t think it’s an issue, and you don’t try to correct the leadership roles of your “pack,” it will cause behavioral issues with your dog. And it will be much harder for your dog to listen to you and respect you as the leader, decision-maker, and commander.

If you’re ready to find some professional help and guidance, you can always hire a trainer. Or you can even find professional dog trainers online like Cesar Millan. He will teach you how to become the leader of your pack. He explains that becoming a calm, respectful pack leader—rather than an angry, forceful one—will help your dog listen to you better. And it will help you to have a better human-to-canine relationship.

You can always teach an old dog new tricks!

No matter how young or old your pup is, it’s never too late to work on better behavior and habits—for them and for you. A lot of the training for dogs is about training the dog owners. Once you know how to relate to your dog in a healthy way, they will understand your expectations. And you’ll both be much happier in the end.

For more helpful articles about pet-parenting tips, check out the Off Leash blog at TryFi.com.

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