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13 Surprising Reasons Why Your Dog Leans On You + 7 Tips

Why Does My Dog Lean On Me

You’re relaxing one day. Suddenly, a warm and fluffy body crashes on you.

It’s your dog. 

And they decide to lean on you. 


You usually don’t mind it, but they’re getting bigger and heavier now.

After you catch your breath, read this article to learn:

  • Are dog leans good or bad?
  • 7 tips to stop them from leaning. 
  • The different ways your dog leans on you.
  • 13 surprising reasons why your dog loves to lean.
  • And much, much more…

Why does my dog lean on me?

Your dog leans on you for reasons such as showing their love, needing affection, feeling tired, aging, itching, hiding something, being scared, having separation anxiety, wanting your space, manipulating you, needing warmth, or having the desire to protect you.

Is a dog leaning on you a sign of dominance?

Your dog leaning on you is not a sign of dominance. Although this information has been mentioned in some theories, it is proven to be wrong. Dogs lean on you because they trust you, or when they need security and protection. 

How to stop a dog from leaning on you?

You can stop your dog from leaning on you by boosting their confidence, walking away when they lean on you, avoiding things that are causing them stress, teaching them another way to ask something,  not giving them what they want, and setting boundaries.

People also ask:

13 reasons why your dog leans on you 

#1: It’s because they love you

Your Dog Leans On You Because He Loves You

Do you still remember the first time your pooch leaned on you?

I remember mine. 

It felt like a warm hug. For the first time, my dog showed another way to let them know they love me. 

Dogs cannot talk. And the only way they can show that their affection is through their body language and the silly things they do. 

There are dogs who follow you around. Those who offer you their toys. And then there are the leaners. 

#2: “You’re mine, favorite human.”

You’re in a dog park. 

You’ve noticed that while resting, your dog leans on you. 

“Well, this feels nice!”, you tell yourself.

But you also notice that they often do this whenever there are other dogs around. 

The reason could be because they want to let the other dogs know that you are their human. 

Dogs can get kinda possessive. I mean, they are territorial in the first place, aren’t they?

In addition, their dog lean acts as a protective barrier between you and the other dogs in case they attack.

#3: Leaning = cuddles

A dog leaning on you can feel like winning the lottery. You get to be the chosen one. 

So you reciprocate the honor by giving them ear scratches and petting. 

This may not be your intention. But this interaction makes your dog think that whenever they lean on you, they will receive cuddles. 

That’s why they do it all the time.

#4: Your dog is manipulating you

What do you feel whenever you see your dog making puppy eyes?

Don’t you just want to throw everything else aside and give them the whole world? They’re your baby!

But hold it. A recent study shows that dogs can manipulate their owners through their puppy eyes. 

So, is it possible that your dog leans on you because they know you’re a sucker for their love? That you will pet them whenever they do this?

The answer is yes. 

And as a dog parent, do you have the power to resist? 


Note: Manipulating is different from asserting dominance. Some theories claim dogs lean for dominance. However, these claims are incorrect.

#5: The temperature is cold

Ever since the beginning of time, wolves are known to sleep with humans to keep them warm. 

Aboriginal people back then used to sleep with two dogs when the night gets too cold. And when the night was freezing, they would sleep with three dogs. 

It’s still the same today.

Have you noticed that during movie nights, your dog leans on you? They also get as close to you as they can when sleeping. 

Because of their natural instinct, they know that the closer they are to you, the warmer it will be. 

#6: They want to protect you

You may have noticed that your dog leans on you in different ways. 

They could lean their head on your lap as you read.

They may reach out their paw to your feet while you’re studying. Or they lie and lean their body to your leg under the dining table as you eat. 

Those slight touchings may not mean much to you, but this alerts them of your movements and whereabouts.

Dogs are pack animals. This means that they feel more secure and comfortable being with you rather than being alone. 

When something happens, you can protect them and they can protect you.

#7: It’s been a tiring day

You spent the whole day with your dog. And now you two are exhausted. 

You sat down to rest… and then, your pooch leaned on you.

Suddenly, you heard the angels sing. The fanfare started playing their music. 

You cried tears of joy. Your dog leaning on you is the best thing that’s ever happened to you.

You are now declared as their favorite resting place.

If your dog could see this through your eyes, they’d probably think to themselves…

“What the heck- I’m just tired. Let me rest for a bit.” 

#8: Something is itchy

Your dog does pretty unusual things. 

There’s the rolling in the mud. And then there’s the neverending chasing of their tail. 

You’ve also noticed their new habit. A reverse leaning. Instead of facing you, they lean with their backside. 

Do they want you to sniff their butt? Oh, heck no!

However, the reason for this is pretty simple. There must be something itchy at their back that they want you to scratch. 

#9: They want to let you know they are not a threat

Your Dog Wants To Let You Know That He's Not A Threat

There’s another reason why your dog leans on you with their backside. 

It’s because they want you to know that they mean no harm. And they are not threatened by you. 

Observe their body.

You will notice that their head and teeth are away from you. This means that they are not in attack mode.

Also, their butt is facing you. 

According to studies, sniffing butts is one method dogs communicate. By doing this, they get acquainted with the other dog’s sex, mood, where they live, what they eat, etc. 

By leaning on their backside, they are exposing themselves to you. 

But that doesn’t mean you have to sniff their butts! 

“Scratches will do. Thanks.”– your dog.

#10: They are scared 

Dogs get scared. It can be because of a new environment, loud sounds, or bigger dogs. 

As puppies, they can easily curl up to you and let you carry them. But that’s not the case for bigger dogs. 

So instead of being carried, they settle with dog leans. 

When something seems frightening or threatening them, they try to get close to you and lean for comfort. 

#11: Separation anxiety

Does your dog lean on you too much? And do they get anxious whenever you’re away?

If yes, the reason could be because they have separation anxiety

It is a common situation for dogs who were separated too early from their siblings. And those from animal shelters. 

Because they lack socialization skills, they tend to be insecure and get scared easily.

Therefore they constantly lean by you for reassurance. 

#12: You’re in their favorite spot

“Hey, you’re in my spot.”

We’ve all said this line before. And whenever we say it, the person usually scoots away to give the spot to you. 

It’s the same with your dog. 

They can’t exactly say that line. No – that would give you a heart attack. 

So instead, they lean on you to signal that you are in their space and they want you to move. 

#13: Your dog is aging

Your Dog Is Aging

Your dog constantly leans. But not just on you. 

They also lean at the wall, the furniture, and even your visitors! 

Sure, it’s a sweet gesture. But the reason for this is anything but sweet. 

You love your dog with all your heart. And the thought of them being in pain is unbearable.

There may have body parts that are sore that they don’t put their weight on because it’s painful. Or it could be because they are aging, and they need to lean for support. 

Bonus: They are hiding something

You notice that your dog is chewing on something. It’s not their mealtime yet, so what’s that they’re munching on? 

You went to check. But instead of running away, they lean on you with their full body weight. 

They are trying to block your view from what they’re eating. 

Sneaky doggos.

Are dog leans good or bad?

If your dog’s leaning habits are not excessive, then there’s no need to correct them. 

Many dog owners think dog leans are good. But it can be troublesome if your dog does it too much. 

They could be doing it to the point that they can’t be left alone. Or they don’t respect your boundaries anymore. 

When this happens, it’s better to stop this habit sooner than later. 

7 tips on how to stop a dog from leaning on you

#1: Boost their confidence

Your pup leans on you all the time. 

It was cute the first time, but now you’re worried if there’s something wrong. They lean on you to the point that they can’t go anywhere else without you. 

They are intimidated and insecure by everything. 

What you need to do is boost their confidence. 

Whenever they are feeling scared, don’t pick them up. Do your best to ignore and move away a bit when they lean on you. 

But don’t move away suddenly. This could make them more anxious. Do it little by little. 

By doing this, you will build up their courage. Let them know that new situations and environments aren’t bad. 

#2: Limit their exposure

If your dog gets scared every time they are in a crowded area, try to limit their exposure to them. Introduce them to situations and things that make them intimidated slowly. 

Here’s an example:

Your dog is scared of dog parks. Whenever you bring them to one, they get scared and lean on you. They would not play with the other dogs. 

And here’s what you can do:

Parks have lots of dogs in one area. In order for your pooch to get used to that amount of dogs, you need to make them adjusted first. Introduce them to a place where there are one or two other dogs only.

This way, you don’t push them too hard.  Also, make sure that you do this in a monitored and safe environment. 

#3: Don’t reward leaning

Your dog constantly leans on you because you give them cuddles in exchange. 

So in order to stop them, stop rewarding them for doing the habit. 

You need to break the cycle.

The important thing here is to be consistent. You can’t prohibit leaning today, and then reward it tomorrow. 

The training wouldn’t and work. And you will just leave your dog confused. 

#4: Walk away when they lean on you 

It’ll be hard, but don’t give in to your dog’s puppy eyes and whines when you walk away from their lean. 

The first time you will do this, your dog will not get the hint immediately. 

It’s the same as not giving them rewards for leaning. The key to this tip is repetition. 

Whenever they lean on you, move away from them. After some time, they will get the sign that you don’t like what they’re doing. 

#5: Take them to the vet

As mentioned earlier, there are various causes why your dog leans on you. 

If the cause for your dog’s excessive leaning is due to old age, you may need to ask for the professional help of your local vet.

They could provide medication and therapies that can improve your dog’s health and help lessen their pain.

#6: Set your boundaries

Dogs who constantly lean on you to the point that they don’t respect your personal space can be troublesome. 

To create safe boundaries, you need to train them using positive reinforcement.

Instead of punishing them when they lean on you, give them rewards when they don’t.

#7: Teach them to another way to ask for something

If your dog’s way of saying ‘Please’ is by leaning, you need to create a new one. One that’s more polite and well-mannered. Like the ‘Sit’ and ‘Stay’ tricks. 

(Try to vary things up as well. Dogs get bored easily.)

Walk away from them whenever they try to lean on you when they need something. If their new way to ask something is reinforced all the time, their leaning will become more tolerable.