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Why Does My Dog Stand on Me? 12 Vet-Approved Reasons & What to Do

Written by: Brooke Billingsley

Last Updated on February 14, 2024 by Dogster Team

a man waking up to his dog standing on him

Why Does My Dog Stand on Me? 12 Vet-Approved Reasons & What to Do

VET APPROVED

Dr. Alice Athow-Frost Photo

REVIEWED & FACT-CHECKED BY

Dr. Alice Athow-Frost

BVM BVS MRCVS (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

Dogs do a lot of behaviors that we might think are weird and some of these behaviors can be very annoying. One thing that your dog may do that you probably find a little obnoxious is standing on you. Whether it’s when you sit down to watch TV or lie down while you’re doing yoga, some dogs love to stand on people. There are multiple reasons that dogs do this, and most of them aren’t desirable, so it’s important that you identify why your dog stands on you and work to remedy the issue.

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The 12 Reasons Your Dog Does Stand on You

1. Attention Seeking

There are a variety of ways that your dog may choose to get your attention, and some dogs opt for standing on or over their people in order to get their attention. Attention-seeking behavior can have a variety of causes, but it’s most likely that your dog is feeling lonely or bored. They know that you won’t be able to ignore them if they’re literally on top of you! It’s best to not reward this behavior, though, unless you want it to become a permanent behavior.

brown dog standing on hind legs and leaning to his owner
Image Credit: Zivica Kerkez, Shutterstock

2. Positive Reinforcement

If your dog stands on you and you reward them with something interesting, then you may be unintentionally reinforcing the behavior. This means that when your dog stands on you and you stop what you’re doing to give them attention, you’re providing positive reinforcement for the behavior. If you give your dog a treat or feed them their next meal because they’re doing this, then you’re simply training your dog to stand on you to get the thing they want.


3. General Anxiety or Fear

Some dogs are very fearful of many things, while other dogs may only experience acute fear or anxiety very rarely. A dog that is anxious or afraid will often seek comfort from the people they trust. In some cases, this comfort-seeking will involve standing on you or crawling into your lap. Many dogs that opt to stand on someone when they’re afraid do so in order to be able to keep an eye on the situation. If they’re lying down, they won’t be able to see as much of whatever is happening.

woman and her small dog sitting together on a window seat watching through a window
Image Credit: Ahmet Naim, Shutterstock

4. Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety occurs when a dog feels extreme anxiety when they’re left alone or a person they’re closely bonded with leaves. Separation anxiety can be a severe problem that can lead to panic and destructive behavior. For a dog that is fearful of being left alone, they may stand on people. This allows them to be as close as physically possible to that person.

In their doggy brain, they are likely thinking that they’re ensuring that person doesn’t get up and leave. There are many techniques for dealing with separation anxiety, and an experienced trainer or veterinary behaviorist can help you with this condition.


5. They Want Something

Is it past the time for your dog’s dinner? Have you not taken your dog on their daily walk yet? Is your dog’s favorite toy out of their reach? Some dogs will choose to stand on people when they’re seeking something specific, like a toy or treat. This is a form of attention-seeking, but it’s commonly focused on a specific action or object, while attention-seeking can be more broadly a dog looking for any type of attention they can get.

a woman playing with her pomaranian dog that is standing on her lap
Image Credit: Gorodenkoff, Shutterstock

6. Protectiveness

Dogs can be very protective and loyal to their people. For some dogs, they prefer to stay as close to their people as possible so they can ensure their safety at all times. Overly protective dogs may stand on you to position themselves to better protect you from anything that might come your way.

Unfortunately, some dogs will stand on their people and protect them to the point of biting anyone who comes too close. This is a behavior that you simply do not want to encourage and may need to collaborate with a trainer or behaviorist on.


7. Dominance

Although alpha theory has been disproven, dominance and a hierarchical structure can exist in many forms for dogs. A dog that wants to prove its dominance may stand over other dogs. In some cases, this behavior extends to humans as well. Dominance over people should never be encouraged in your dog, though. Dominance that is allowed to go unchecked can lead to an unwieldy and dangerous dog. In many cases, professional help is needed to remedy this undesirable behavior.

dachshund dog standing on owner
Image Credit: Nataliya Kuznetsova, Shutterstock

8. Affection

Dogs are often very affectionate toward their loved ones, humans included. If your dog wants to show you love and affection, then they may want to stand on you or get into your lap whenever they can. This is a combination of your dog hoping you’ll show them attention and affection and your dog showing you how much they care about you. This can be a cute behavior when done for this reason, but keep in mind that even small dogs can cause bruises and scratches by trying to stand on people.


9. Playfulness

If your dog is feeling frisky and excited, they may jump up and put their front paws on you. If you’re sitting down, your dog may try to paw at you or stand in your lap. This is because your dog is trying to get your attention, as well as initiate play. If you’ve ever watched a dog initiate play with another dog, you may have noticed that physical touch is often used during play initiation. It only makes sense that your dog would extend this behavior when trying to play with you as well.

a senior woman petting her dog that is standing on her lap
Image Credit: SeventyFour, Shutterstock

10. To Wake You Up

Whether breakfast is late or they really need to potty, your dog may stand on you in order to wake you up. This can be a very annoying thing for a dog to do, especially if it’s a common occurrence. However, if your dog typically sleeps as long as you do, then they may be trying to tell you that they really need something or that something is amiss in the house. Be careful to not provide positive reinforcement for this behavior if your dog starts doing it to get breakfast or an early playtime.


11. They’re Sick

It’s unfortunate that dogs can’t talk to us and let us know how they’re feeling, but they do have a variety of ways they’ll try to let you know something isn’t quite right in their body. Some dogs will stand on you because they aren’t feeling well. This can be because they’re looking for attention and affection to give them comfort while they’re not feeling well, but it may also be an indication that your dog acutely needs you to do something about their illness. For example, some dogs may stand on you because they’re going to have diarrhea and they’re desperately trying to alert you before they have an accident in the house.

senior woman hugging her dog outdoor
Image Credit: Ground Picture, Shutterstock

12. You’re Sick

Dogs are often very in tune with our physical and emotional health. If your dog senses that you’re not feeling well, whether it’s due to an illness or heartbreak, they may stand on you in an effort to provide you with comfort. They may also be attempting to alert you to the presence of a problem you aren’t even aware of. Dogs are thought to be capable of detecting things like tumors and low blood sugar by smell alone, so they may become more interested in standing on you if there’s an underlying problem.

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Conclusion

In general, allowing your dog to stand on you isn’t advisable. There are too many behavioral issues associated with this behavior, and even if your dog is doing it out of playfulness or to seek your attention, not everyone wants a dog standing on them. If your dog is around guests, they may try to stand on them as well, which can not just be annoying, but can actually be dangerous for people with certain medical conditions and frightening for others.


Featured Image Credit: Tatyana Vyc, Shutterstock

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