Why Does My Dog Always Want to Sit on My Lap?

You just came home from a tiring day at work and tried to take a rest on the couch before preparing dinner.

Suddenly, your dog jumps on your lap and tries to play with you. While their cuddles take the stress out of you, sometimes you just want your alone time.

So, you find yourself asking, why does my dog always want to sit on my lap?

There are many considerations for figuring out why your dog sits on your lap. We share with you why your dog wants to sit on your lap and how to stop this behavior if you need to. 

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dog sits on lap

Find Out Why Your Dog Sits on Your Lap

Before knowing the root cause of your dog’s habit of sitting on your lap, you should first know what clues to look for.

When Your Dog First Sat on Your Lap

Investigate the timing of when your dog first started to sit on your lap because there may be an event that started this behavior.

Certain actions you do can seem like a reward to them. 

For example, when they first started sitting on you and you give them tons of attention, they start doing it all over again in hopes of getting more.

Another example includes putting a stop to a part of their routine. When you stopped giving your dog attention or taking them on walks, their sitting habit may have been triggered.

What Time Does Your Dog Sit on Your Lap?

When does your dog sit on your lap? Is there a certain time? Taking note of this can also give you clues.

If your dog sits on your lap at times when you’re supposed to take a walk, they might be seeking your attention because they want to go out and walk already.

The same is true with feeding time, playtime, peeing time, and other parts of their routine. 

Why Your Dog Sits on Your Lap

Your dog sits on your lap all the time for a variety of reasons. 

To understand the main cause of your dog’s behavior, it’s important to look for other clues. 

Here are some reasons why your furry friend enjoys sitting on your lap along with what would make the cause more likely.

Breed Behavior

Some breeds are more affectionate than others. They tend to be clingy and feel the need to be where you are all the time.

This is referred to as the velcro dog syndrome.

Some of the most affectionate dog breeds include:

  • Golden Retriever
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Bichon Frise
  • Pug
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
  • Great Dane
  • Chihuahua
  • Greyhound
  • Old English Sheepdog.

Your Dog Wants Attention

Our dogs, no matter the breed or sex, love to sit on us for fun and attention. They get bored, so they sit on your lap and ask for playtime.

You’ll know they want to play with you if they sit and roll on you. Sometimes, they even make playful noises.

If your dog does this, you can give them a few minutes of playtime. Just make sure they don’t get used to the instant gratification.

Otherwise, they’ll start to sit on you all the time and expect you to reward the behavior with attention. 

Your dog may also be seeking your attention for food, water, or because they want to pee outside. 

Provide a predictable routine for your dog so they know when to expect feeding and peeing time. 

Separation Anxiety

The reason why your dog sits on your lap can also be separation anxiety. Your dog doesn’t want you to leave for work, so they try to use their weight to stop you.

This is more likely to be the reason if they start getting scared, crying, or barking when you are about to leave. 

They may also sit on you because they are traumatized from the hours they spent without you by their side. 

Separation anxiety can be treated with proper training. However, if the behavior has become excessive, a consultation with your vet is necessary.

To Spread Their Scent 

Your dog may also be sitting on your lap because they want to spread their scent all over you. They want you to smell like them for many reasons.

While some simply enjoy spreading their scent on you because of the satisfying feeling, others do it so that other dogs can smell them on you. 

While it sounds sweet and protective of them, this should be discouraged because it is bad behavior. 

Stop your dog every time they try to jump on your lap then ignore them. 

You’re Taking Over Your Dog’s Spot

Your dog could be sitting on your lap all the time when you’re sitting on their territory. 

Does your dog enjoy sitting on a certain side of the couch? And do they only sit on your lap every time you sit on this side of the sofa?

If you answered yes to both questions, your dog’s sitting behavior could be caused by you taking over their place. 

You can also try sitting on other parts of the couch and see if they sit on your lap just to make sure.

Make sure you train your dog to have their own safe haven in a part of the house. Ideally, this spot should be their crate and you can do it by crate-training them

If your dog grew up taking “ownership” of a spot that should be off-limits, train them to sit somewhere else so they know that you are in charge.

Offering You Comfort

Your dog is likely to be comforting you because they notice that you are sad or sick. This results in them wanting to be close to you and sitting on your lap.

Because being close to you makes them feel better, they also think that it makes you feel better. 

This is their way of showing you that they feel sorry for you as they can sense your emotions and condition.

Sometimes, their love for you can be a bit selfish. So, they sit on your lap to make sure that other dogs and humans smell that they own you.

They want to be the ones to comfort you every time you are sad and sick. They want others to stay away from you so that you are kept safe and comfortable.   

The Behavior Has Been Reinforced

Your dog might always be sitting on your lap because you unintentionally trained them to do so. This happens when you choose to ignore their behavior all the time.

You don’t ask them to get off your lap, so they get used to sitting on your thighs even when it’s not the right time. 

This is likely to be the cause when you try giving them treats and toys on the floor but still choose to sit on you. 

This behavior also becomes more frequent if you give them the things they want when they sit on you, such as toys, treats, and even simple attention. 

How to Stop Your Dog from Sitting on Your Lap

There are a lot of things you can do to stop your dog from sitting on your lap. Here are some solutions to try.

Ignore Your Dog

Most dogs sit on our laps for attention. Whether you offer them treats or scold them for the bad behavior, you’re just rewarding them with what they want.

Instead of reinforcing the behavior, just ignore them so you can avoid giving them attention. 

Try getting them off you by standing up. Don’t even make eye contact with them so they know that you do not like what they are doing. 

Keep doing this if they try sitting on your lap again. Be persistent and they will eventually figure it out.

Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is usually the best way to train your dog to perform the best behaviors. 

When you sit down, try teaching them to stay on the floor by pointing to it and saying “down.” Make sure everyone in the house uses this command word when training this behavior.

Let them stay on the floor for longer and longer periods. 

The most important part of this training is the reward. Every time they perform good behavior, give them a treat. 

The treat helps to reinforce the positive behavior over and over so they learn what they should be doing.

Eventually, they will no longer need the treat and the behavior will become natural for them.

Give Your Dog Distractions

Aside from making use of positive reinforcement techniques to stop your dog from sitting on your lap, you can also give them lots of things that will distract them from the bad behavior.

Take note that these items should not be your main method of eradicating bad dog habits. It is still important for your dog to see you as the leader of the pack.

Toys, puzzles, and bones are just some of the distractions you can offer them.

Gnawsome 4.5” Spiky Squeaker Ball Dog Toy - Extra Large, Cleans Teeth and Promotes Good Dental and Gum Health for Your Pet, Colors will vary

Gnawsome Spiky Squeaker Ball is a 4.5-inch toy ball for fur babies who want to stay occupied instead of being bored. It has a loud internal squeaker that will keep them entertained.

Its texture also helps massage your dog’s gum to keep them healthy and relaxed.

But if you would rather give them toys that don’t feature sounds, try Arm & Hammer Store’s Treadz Gator and Gorilla Chew Toy

Arm & Hammer for Pets Super Treadz Gorilla Dental Chew Toy for Dogs - Dog Dental Chew Toys Reduce Plaque & Tartar Buildup Without Brushing - Safe for Dogs up to 35 Lbs

This toy has a similar texture that is also good for your pooch’s dental health. Available in gorilla and alligator shapes, the chew toy is also infused with baking soda.

Experts believe you shouldn’t use baking soda as a dog toothpaste, but it has various advantages for their oral health when used in small amounts. 

Nina Ottosson by Outward Hound Dog Twister Interactive Treat Puzzle Dog Toy, Advanced

A puzzle toy like Outward Hound Store’s Nina Ottosson Dog Twister toy can also help. It challenges their problem-solving skills to stimulate your dog’s minds!

If toys do not distract your dog, maybe something edible will! Redbarn Filled Dog Bones for Aggressive Chewers is the best choice. 

Redbarn Large Filled Bone-Peanut Butter

It’s made of natural beef femur with fillings like beef, cheese, and bacon, chicken, lamb, peanut butter, and peanut butter and jelly to satisfy their drive to chew.

Use one of these distractions to lure your dog away from your lap and to give them something else to focus their attention on.

What If My Dog Doesn’t Sit on My Lap?

The problem might be the other way around for you. Your dog has probably never sat on your lap, yet you want them to.

Here are some possible reasons why your dog won’t sit on your lap.

Uncomfortable Texture

Your dog probably dislikes the texture of your skin or clothing. They may feel uncomfortable sitting on jeans or metallic buttons.

Belt loops may also be too hard for them to have a pleasant nap on your lap. 

Why would they want to sit on these things when they can enjoy the comfort and softness of their own dog bed? 

Unstable Legs

Let’s face it. Our legs are not the most comfortable area to sleep on.

While our dogs release happy hormones every time they are close to us, they can still feel uncomfortable sleeping on our legs because we move a lot.

Maybe our legs are too small for them to lounge. 

If your dog is just the right size, try putting a small dog bed or cushion on your lap and see if they stay there. 


Dogs do a great job at regulating their body temperature, so their sense of temperature is acute. Even the smallest changes can be obvious to them.

So, if they want to stay somewhere comfortable, they want it to be the right temperature.

Your dog doesn’t enjoy sitting on your lap because it’s probably too hot or cold for them. It can make them restless and stressed out.

Don’t take it personally if your dog doesn’t want to sit on top of you or even near you! 

Always make sure to keep them warm during cold nights so they stay cozy and comfy.

How to Encourage Your Dog to Sit on Your Lap

If your dog does not sit on your lap, these tips might help you encourage them.

Stay Soft and Cool 

As mentioned, dogs tend to be choosy when it comes to temperature. That is why it’s important to encourage them onto your lap in cooler temperatures.

Our bodies warm up easily, so in cooler weather they have an enticing reason to cuddle with you and feel warm.

Wear something soft and thick to help keep them comfortable while they are on your lap. 

Jeans are not recommended because of their roughness and heaviness. They also have hard buttons that might irritate your dog’s skin. 

Get a Cushion

Because our legs are not as stable as dog beds, you can try putting a cushion or a small dog bed on your lap to keep them more comfortable. 

Go for a firm and spacious one that won’t bother them with your movements. Our top recommendation is Best Friends by Sheri Original Calming Dog Bed.

This cushion is soft and cosy with support for their head and neck. It is also lightweight enough to stay on top of your lap.

If you don’t want to spend money on a new dog bed, a thick blanket or cushion might be enough. Put it on top of your lap so your dog sees it as a great spot for lounging.

FAQ Dog Training and Behavior

Am I Giving My Dog Inadequate Attention?


If your dog keeps wanting to sit on your lap, you’re probably not giving them enough attention.

While seeking attention from time to time is not a bad thing, try looking at how you treat your dog. They might lack attention to the point that you’re not providing for their needs.

For example, you might not be putting your dog to sleep the right way. They weren’t stimulated throughout the day, so they are too energetic to sleep. 

Puppies need more attention so make sure you’re giving them adequate attention by feeding, grooming, socializing, walking, and playing with them.

How Do I Stop My Dog from Jumping on Me?

Dogs love to stay on top of us. They sit on our laps and sometimes even jump on us. To stop this, you need to ignore this behavior as well. 

They jump on us because they also want attention. Because we don’t want to reinforce this habit, you shouldn’t give them a treat, scold them, or even touch them. 

Continue doing this until they have calmed down. If the behavior continues, try isolating them by putting them in an empty room or leaving the room.

Stopping your dog from jumping up is important so that visitors, kids, and seniors in the house will stay safe. 

Why Does My Dog Sit on Other Dogs?

Sometimes, our dogs sit on other dogs as a way of playing. This is usually accompanied by running, jumping, and pawing other dogs.

But dogs can also sit on other dogs to show dominance. 

Read your dog’s body language to be sure about the cause. If your dog sits on other dogs with intense stares and their tail up high, it could be their way of showing dominance.

Learn how to introduce dogs to each other the right way to avoid dominance and aggression toward one another. 

Stop Your Dog from Sitting on Your Lap!

Inadequate attention, breed behavior, and separation anxiety are some of the reasons why your dog keeps sitting on your lap. 

You can stop them from doing so by solving the root cause. If your dog has separation anxiety, go to the vet for a diagnosis and treatment plan.

If your dog is naturally affectionate, you can stop them with proper training.

If you find their behavior unreasonable and annoying, try teaching them how to see you as the pack leader.