Your dog sits on your chest. And this raises the question ‘Why?’
So, you begin looking for answers and stumble upon this article…
Good news – search no more!
But do continue reading to find out:
- A simple and fun reason why your dog does this (check out #9).
- What ‘resource guarding’ means and if it is the reason your dog sits on your chest.
- Whether you’re encouraging your dog’s behavior and how to stop it if you want to.
- And way more…
Table of contents
Why does my dog sit on my chest?
Your dog sits on your chest because they need something from you or are guarding you. They could be looking for snuggles or want to be fed. Sometimes, your dog sees you as a valuable property that they want to guard against others. But in some cases, they just want your attention and affection.
9 reasons why your dog sits on your chest
#1: Your dog wants you to do something
Admit it. Your dog’s got you wrapped around their paws.
They want butt scratches; you give them butt scratches. They need exercise; you brave the cold to take them for a walk.
And even when your brain is still asleep, you get up off the bed to let your dog out.
You even let them sit on your chest though they weigh like an elephant.
But wait, why do dogs like to sit on your chest? Some people would insist this is a show of dominance. Or being a pack leader.
It might surprise you that your dog does this for the simplest reasons
In particular, to ask you to do something.
So if they flopped on your chest, they could be asking for snuggles!
Pet owners are only too happy to oblige.
Sometimes, dogs do this because they want to be fed. You know how dogs are. They’re always hungry.
And they know when it’s time for their meal.
So get up, human, and get your pooch their breakfast.
#2: Your dog misses you like crazy
Dogs just have the purest souls.
They spend hours alone at home waiting for you. And they would give you a fancy welcome when you come home.
Complete with slobbery kisses, body bumps, and sounds of happiness.
And when you sit on the couch to rest, your dog quickly approaches to sit on your chest. Then they slobber you some more with kisses.
It only means one thing. Your dog misses you.
#3: Your dog is ‘resource-guarding’ you
Does your dog see you as their property? Do they become possessive of you?
If so, and they sit on your chest, then they’re staking their claim on you.
They’re claiming you against your other pets or spouse or kids.
This is what you call ‘resource guarding.’
Resource guarding refers to a dog’s behavior when he wants others to stay away from his possessions.
They would growl, snap, bite, snarl, and show their teeth in an aggressive way. Or shield the item from anyone.
Possessions can range from toys, chew bones, blankets, another dog, or cat. Or even you.
If your dog perceives you as valuable, then they’ll guard you against your pets and family. They won’t like others to approach you or even touch you.
You might even mistake it for jealousy.
#4: Your dog is showing you their love
Dogs have no shortage of ways to love their owners.
Sometimes they show it in really weird or funny ways. Such as sitting on your chest.
This is the case when they try to get you to pet them. Or give them scratches.
With your dog on your chest, they can be closer to you.
This is more likely if they sit on your chest after you’ve been gone. They’ll get any chance to be close to you to make up for your absence.
Sometimes they would sit on your chest when you had a bad day
They just want to make you feel better.
Dogs know when you’re happy or sad based on your facial expressions.
This had been proven by a research studying 17 dogs. The researchers observed the dogs’ behavior toward positive and negative emotional reactions.
The researchers used photos of facial expressions and audio recordings of voices or barks.
Here’s what the results showed:
Dogs looked longer to positive faces when they heard positive sounds. Then they looked longer to angry faces when they heard negative sounds.
The researchers believed this is proof that dogs can recognize emotions in humans.
#5: Your dog demands your attention
Your dog craves your attention. And they would get it however they want.
If they sit on your chest, chances are they want your attention. This could happen if you have not given them enough attention lately.
Attention – like treats, praises, and play – is reinforcing for a dog. Thus, they would demand it from you all the time.
If they don’t sit on your chest, they could resort to other behaviors. These include barking or jumping.
This is usually the part where pet owners make a mistake. They give attention to the dog when the dog demands it by engaging in annoying behaviors.
Note: The more attention you give when they sit on your chest, the more they’ll engage in this behavior.
#6: You encourage the behavior
How do you react when your dog sits on your chest?
Do you push them aside? Or do you give them kisses and snuggles?
Kisses, snuggles, and attention reinforce a behavior.
Sometimes you do this unconsciously. When your dog is within reach, you automatically pet them.
And no one can blame you. We all fall victims, one way or another, to dogs’ charming ways.
When this happens a lot of times, your dog will keep on doing it.
#7: Your dog is anxious
Like humans, dogs suffer from anxiety.
Anxiety can come from many things. Thus, it’s a challenge to find out the cause.
But looking at your dog’s behavior can help you discover what it is.
Could it be because of your absence? Though you want to be with your dog, you need to go to work. The separation could be what’s making them anxious.
They show signs of anxiety when you’re just about to leave. But when you’re gone, all hell breaks loose.
They bark with all their might. Or they trash the house.
And when you’re home, they wouldn’t let you out of their sight. So when you’re on the couch or bed, they would sit on your chest.
They are most likely doing so to keep you from leaving
Anxiety can also be caused by fear. It could be fear of loud noises, of new environments, or of strange people.
Another cause of anxiety, according to AKC, is age-related. Old dogs suffer from anxiety and confusion. That’s because their memory and awareness are starting to decline.
Anxiety becomes a huge challenge if your dog resorts to aggression.
Aside from that, an anxious dog will show the following symptoms:
- Urinating/defecating in the house.
#8: You are warm, soft, and comfortable
Your dog must see you as a pillow. Only more comfortable.
Your chest is one of the warmest parts of your body. That’s why your dog loves to sit on your chest. It’s to keep warm.
And because your chest is warm enough to park their rear ends on, they’ll also love to curl up and sleep on top of you.
They are further comforted when they hear your heartbeat.
It’s no wonder that nowadays there are a lot of companion toys for dogs that have a heartbeat. These are used to help dogs who suffer from separation anxiety.
#9: Your dog is inviting you to play
Your dog sits on your chest if they want you to play with them.
And they don’t care if you’re doing something else. Such as working out.
It is necessary to have playtime with your dogs. Aside from the benefits it gives them, it’s also a way to strengthen your relationship.
Chest-sitting is not the only sign your dog wants to play with you. They would also bark.
Or, if you’re sitting, they might place their paw on your lap. Or do a play bow – the trademark of dogs when they want to play.
5 tips to prevent your dog from sitting on your chest
#1: Stop the behavior
Allowing your dog to sit on your chest will be your personal preference.
Some owners wouldn’t like their dogs doing it. Especially if it makes them uncomfortable.
If you’ve got a huge dog such as a Great Dane, it’s not fun having them on your chest.
However, others see chest-sitting as a sign of affection from their pooch.
If you don’t like this behavior, there are ways to stop it.
One way is to prevent your dog from sitting on your chest
When they try to sit on your chest, gently push them over to the side.
If you’re on the couch and your dog is allowed on furniture: push them off your chest to the couch.
If on the bed, turn to the side so they slide off to the bed and they can’t climb to your chest.
Do this every time they attempt to sit on your chest.
Don’t want your dog on the furniture? Have them sit by your feet instead. Make it clear that it is where you want them and not on your chest.
When they obey you, make sure you reward them with a treat or attention.
You can also get them busy by giving them a toy. They’ll learn that if they lay on the floor, instead of on your chest, they’ll get rewarded.
Note: If a certain behavior is constantly discouraged, then it eventually dies down.
#2: Give them attention at the right time
There’s such a thing as too much attention and too little attention. Either way, both are bad for your dog.
In giving your dog attention, it must be done at the right time.
Do you give them attention when they’re aggressive or bad? If so, it teaches them that it’s okay to feel that way.
But what it does, in reality, is it only reinforces bad behavior.
At the end of the spectrum…
Ignoring your dog all the time makes them crave for it even more. They won’t know if what they do is okay for you or not.
What they do know is they should bark or jump to get your attention
Be in the middle of the spectrum. In other words, don’t wait for your dog to demand your attention.
If they’re behaving in desirable ways, give them praise. And don’t be stingy about it.
Remember: Reinforced behavior will be repeated.
Other healthy ways of giving your dog attention are the following:
Your dog is less likely to sit on your chest just to get your attention.
#3: Refrain from using negative reinforcement
There are many ways to change a dog’s behavior. Each has its own merits and disadvantages.
I would suggest avoiding the use of negative reinforcement.
According to Mark Plonsky, a Psychology professor at the University of Wisconsin:
Negative reinforcement is the removal of something unpleasant when the dog does the desired behavior.
One example of the use of negative reinforcement is exerting force on your dog’s butt when making them sit. That force on their butt is unpleasant for dogs.
Another example is the use of shock collars. The shock is turned off when the dog sits. The dog learns to sit quickly so as to avoid feeling the shock.
#4: Only let your dog do it when you invite them
Teach them some manners by not sitting on your chest without your invitation.
It involves not allowing your dog to sit on you at any other time. Have them do other desirable behaviors such as sitting beside you or on the floor.
They can sit on your chest only when you ask them to. And they must also follow when told ‘down’ or ‘off.’
A pet owner on a forum shared that his dogs know when it’s time to remove themselves from his lap.
For instance, the owner places the book he’s reading on the table. Or he shuffles his feet in preparation to stand up.
Dogs are smart. And if there are such ques that repeat themselves over and over again, your dog will start to get when it’s time to get off your chest.
#5: Just stand up
This seems like a very easy thing to do. And it is.
There’s no special equipment to use here. No complicated commands.
Just stand up when your dog tries to sit on your chest. That stops them right off the bat.
Sit back down again. Should they attempt to sit on your chest, stand up again. Or go sit on another chair.
The same when you’re on the bed. Roll to the side when your dog is trying to sit on you. Have them lie on the bed next to you instead.
Your dog will eventually get the message.