Why does my dog stand on my lap?

We adopted a 2 year old beagle mix from a shelter a couple of months ago. She is very sweet and docile but when I am sitting on the couch. she will often come over and climb up onto my lap. But she doesn't lay down and snuggle. Instead she will literally just stand on my lap with her face about an inch from mine. She would probably stay there all day if I let her. She's always very resistant to move her face away from mine when I push her or to lay down when I try get her out of a standing position. When I finally shove her off my lap, she is back a short while later. She does this same thing with my husband as well. This might not be such a problem if she didn't weigh 40 pounds.

Asked by Member 906550 on Oct 30th 2009 Tagged staring, obsession, standing, lap in Behavior & Training
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Bella does the same thing to me and my boyfriend and she is pushing 50 pounds. She just wants to be close to you. I usually push Bella off and then throw her a toy or give her her bone to distract her.

Bella answered on 10/30/09. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer


I think she is trying to dominate you, show that she is the alpha in the family. My boxer does this to my friend who lives upstairs but, she does NOT do this to me. I believe this is the case but, I could be wrong:o)

Madison answered on 10/30/09. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer


Your dog has learned (probably long before you adopted her) that to get attention/affection she must be in a human person's face - literally! By staying in your face, she is giving you no choice but to see only her. This isn't necessarily a dominance issue per se, but your dog sees herself as at least your equal, taking her place on the same eye level.
The worst thing to do is give her attention when SHE is controlling when she gets attention. Keep treats on hand. Ignore completely when she gets on you - if the habit is established this may take a while to work. When she eventually gets down, praise her loudly and treat. Pushing her down only builds her resolve.
This is not a problem. It is a symptom of another problem. Correct all attention-demanding behavior. Stand in the room. If she stands up or jumps or demands in any way, turn away and stay turned. When she gets this, call her over and then praise/treat. Only give attention when YOU control the timing. Patience!

Member 906514 answered on 10/30/09. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer


This is not a dominant behavior. That idea is outdated and disproved. Your dog is not trying to dominate you and there is nothing wrong with a dog feeling like an equal which I doubt is the issue here. Every odd thing a dog does is not an attempt to dominate you and dogs do not spend their life trying to be “top dog” BOL it takes a human being to behave that way, dogs know better.

Your dog is trying to get your attention and be close to her face. You don’t want to eradicate attention seeking behaviors, just teach acceptable ways for your dog to ask for attention. I would work on training her to sit by your side and relax. When she gets on your lap, give her a cue (such as Snuggle) gently help her into the position you want her in praise, reward and pet. you may have to do this many times, but if every time she stands on your lap you immediately cue, put her where she needs to go and praise/pet reward eventually she will understand the cue and lay where you both can be comfortable.

Fritz answered on 10/31/09. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 1 Report this answer

Cookies 'n' Creme (1998-2011)

I agree with Fritz. The dominance theory was based off on the 1940's study on several wolves ALL FROM DIFFERENT PACKS (meaning that they did not know each other before the study started) and in unnatural surroundings.
Here's an article:

Does dominance exist? Certainly. But as the article says, it's an overused and abused assumption. Some seem to use it to explain away behaviors they themselves just do not understand. The way to be your dog's leader? Control the dog's resources. No wrestling a dog to the ground ("alpha" rolling) is required *at all*.
And to challenge a previous answer to a previous question which stated that the dominance theory has been used successfully, I say oh really...? So many trainers have been successful curbing behaviors because they labeled it dominance? They could use the same methods to curb that behavior but say it's not dominance and it would be unsuccessful? Sorry, nope. Doesn't matter what ou label it. If you hgave some guy scaring the pee out of you by "'alpha' rolling" you every time you tried to get on the couch, you'd stop wouldn't you? See, the methods recommended by trainers whi believe in the dominance theory do not work because the dog really was dominant, they work because the dog was scared out of doing a behavior.
And to confront another comment from another answer in another question: as for looking for proof that the newer methods work, ASK PEOPLE WHO USE THEM. There are several right here on Dogster. Asher, who is a common poster in the Behavior & Training forums, for one. Cracker, who also posts in the B&T forums, for another. I use some of the newer methods, too. Clicker training, redirecting, counter conditioning, etc. They work for me. I do use positive punishment, but as little of it as possible.

I apologize, Guest, for making such a long post without having yet done a thing to answer your question. I agree with those who say that she is trying to get attention. Redirect her to the ground, and give her what she wants (attention) only when she is on the ground. Or next to you on the couch, if she is allowed on furniture as the case may be.

Cookies 'n' Creme (1998-2011) answered on 11/1/09. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer