Why Does My Dog Stand on Me? (Chest, Lap… even in sleep!)

Why Does My Dog Stand on Me

Seeing your dog standing on the sofa, bed, table, or next to you is nothing out of the ordinary. But if they stand on your chest, lap, of when you’re even sleeping, it downright weird.

But there are some very interesting reasons why dogs like to stand on you and stare. Not all will apply to your dog, some you will find surprising… but either way, all reasons are listed below. Here’s a short answer first though.

Why does my dog stand on me? 

There are several reasons why your dog stands on you. Your dog might stand on you to act dominant, express their affection for you, or grab your attention. It might also be because they feel protective. Or want to communicate something like they’re hungry or anxious.

That’s not all, though. Keep reading as I go over all the possible reasons why your dog stands on your lap or chest without a care in the world.

Dog standing on you? 9 things your dog is trying to tell you

They make the best housemates, we adore them, and can’t imagine doing life without them. But there’s no denying that our dogs have some odd behaviors that make no sense to us. 

If your dog has a habit of standing on you when you sleep, or awake, you can relate to how strange dogs act at times.

It’s downright puzzling. But believe it or not, nearly every dog parent out there has countless experiences of their dog standing on them and trying to lick their face

You may mistakenly think your dog is out of their mind for standing on your lap, chest, or back uninvited. But what they’re doing is completely normal dog behavior.

That said, let’s explore all potential reasons why your dog stands on you:

1. Your dog is being affectionate

I know, I know.  Watching your dog climb on top of you and torture your chest or back with all that weight doesn’t look like an affectionate gesture.  But it is — in your dog’s mind. 

Dogs can’t put what they feel for us into words, so they shower us with affection in the most surprising ways — like stretching out or standing on us. 

Your dog loves feeling closely connected to you. When they get on top of you, they might be simply trying to tell you they truly cherish you and would be the happiest if you reciprocated the affection right there and then.

2. It’s a dominance stunt

Your dog could be standing on you to make a point — that they are in control. 

Climbing on you and claiming your space is probably your dog’s attempt to let you know they own the alpha status at that moment. It makes them feel taller than you, and they think you’ll see them as the “boss” for that brief period.  

Your dog believes this will work because that’s how dogs display dominance towards other dogs in the canine world — standing over each other like this.   

You can know your dog is trying to act dominant if they don’t listen when you ask them to get off you. Or when you lift and place them on the ground, they jump right back on you and assume their standing posture.  

They may also insist on making eye contact while on top of you and even growl (or snap) at you if you stare back or place them down. Some will also then try to steal your seat.

For most dogs, though, this dominance stunt isn’t accompanied by any form of aggression. 

If you realize your dog displays aggressive tendencies every time, they stand on you, there’s a problem. Consider reaching out to a trained behaviorist.  

3. Ready to protect you

If your dog could talk, they’d probably say they can take a bullet for you when you’re in danger. 

But since they can’t, there’ll resort to plan B — standing on you to “shield” you from danger. If your dog feels he needs to protect you, he may get on top of you to put himself between you and the “threat” (even when there’s clearly no real threat around).

Maybe it’s the presence of guests your dog isn’t familiar with. Or because they think that when you’re asleep, someone can harm you since you’re not on high alert. 

Handy Hint: This protection will also extend to waiting outside the bathroom door for you.

4. They’re worried about you

If your dog senses you’re not okay, they might stand on you as a sign of concern and to further “investigate” what’s troubling you. 

There’s nothing quite like a dog’s sense of smell. 

Your dog can sniff you and know you’re unwell or not in a good mood. By standing so close to you, they might be trying to figure out what’s going on in your body that’s making you seem out of character. 

Standing on you could also be their way of telling you that they know you’re not okay and are there for you.

5. Your dog is anxious and feels unsafe

Sometimes, standing on you might be the only thing that can make your anxious dog feel secure. In your dog’s eyes, you wear many hats as his pack leader — like the protector “hat.” 

If there’s something frightening your dog, they’ll come over to you for protection. 

Standing on you is simply your anxious dog’s way of wanting to get physically close to you because this gives them a sense of safety. 

You might notice typical signs of anxiety when he’s on top of you —  for instance, trembling, tail tucked between the legs, and flattened ears.  

6. You’ve forgotten something they need

Taking a nap when it’s already way past your dog’s feeding time? They may get on top of you to alert you to do the necessary — get up and feed them! 

Catching up on your favorite show around the time when you often take your dog for an evening walk? They will remind you it’s walk time by standing on you. 

If impatience gets the best of your dog, getting on top of you may be their way of communicating their pending needs – unless you have a dog that can talk to you!

7. It’s an attention-seeking tactic

When your schedule gets too busy, you might unknowingly put your dog in the backseat. You know, less playtime and bonding time.

Dogs thrive on interactions with those they love.  After all, they are social creatures. 

Your dog thinks of you as their most important human friend. So, they will need you to interact with them often. 

If your dog feels neglected and craves to play or spend time with you, they will do all manner of things to get your attention — like standing on your chest when you sleep. 

They’re smart enough to know there’s no way they’ll get on top of you without you noticing them. 

8. Standing on you gets them a reward

It might be that your dog has, over time, learned that standing on you comes with its fair share of rewards — belly rubs, ear scratches, and gentle strokes that makes them kick their legs in ecstasy

If this is what happens each time your dog stands on you, you can be sure that this isn’t a habit they’ll give up anytime soon. 

In this case, the only way you can stop them from standing on you every other time is to ignore them when they are on top.  

9. Your dog is unwell

When your dog isn’t feeling well, they will want to be as close to you (their trusted companion) as possible.  

If they stand on you when sick, it’s probably because they’re looking for comfort, and hope you’ll take things to the next level — a cuddle session.  

And since they can’t verbally tell you they’re unwell, they will only hope you’ll quickly notice any signs of illness and come to their rescue — like appetite loss, excessive whining, and change in behavior.


Why does my dog stand and lay on me?

If your dog stands and lays on you, they might be showing you affection, worried about you, or want comfort from you. It could also be because they are unwell or vying for your attention.

Why does my dog want to stand on my lap?

As discussed earlier, there are several possible reasons why. It could be a sign of affection, a way to exert dominance over you, an attention-seeking trick, a way to seek comfort from you, or a sign they’re worried about you, to name a few.

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Marc Aaron

I write about the things we've learned about owning dogs, the adventures we have, and any advice and tips we've picked up along the way.

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