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We all have our own quirks and preferences in life and our dogs aren’t any different. Sometimes where our dogs choose to stand, sit and lay might feel like an unexpected choice.
If your dog usually sits behind you then this favorite spot of theirs can seem not only confusing but also inconvenient.
If that sounds familiar to you then you’re probably wondering why does my dog sits behind me?
Your dog may sit behind you to be close to you, and for the comfort, warmth, and protection you offer them. Sitting behind you on the couch or chair might be a sign of separation anxiety, or it’s simply the spot they’ve claimed.
There are more possible reasons your pooch loves sitting behind you whether you’re at the park, waiting in line to get your takeaway coffee, or on your couch.
So, let’s explore them!
Why Does My Dog Sit Behind Me?
You might simply be curious to find out why of all places your dog has chosen to sit behind you. Or perhaps you find this habit frustrating, and you might be worried that this behavior isn’t as innocent as it may seem, and you would like to put a stop to it.
But before you decide on what to think or do about it, let’s take a look at the possible reasons.
Reason 1: They’re Shy
As a new dog parent, it’s hard to know what to expect from your newly adopted puppy, but you might have had some expectations, nonetheless.
Usually, we want the puppy to be energetic, happy, and love us from the moment we bring them into our home. But this can be unrealistic since all dogs are different and some might take more time to love you and bond with you.
If your puppy stays behind you during your walk or they choose to sit behind you no matter where you stand or sit then they might still be shy to face you.
For those of you who own a puppy that constantly tries to squeeze themselves to sit or sleep behind you when you’re also sitting down then this might be their way of showing you that they want to be close to you.
After all, that spot must be the warmest and it should give a puppy a sense of security, so Instead of hiding around the house, your puppy has chosen you as their shelter instead.
Similarly, newly adopted dogs that are older can be extra shy around new owners either because that’s part of their personality or they’re timid around humans because of past trauma.
Reason 2: To Be Close To You
Whether it’s a puppy or a senior dog sitting behind you especially if you sense them leaning their body against yours is a sign that your doggy wants to be close to you.
Dogs have so multiple ways of expressing their love for their owners, and laying or sitting behind you even if you’re busy cooking or watering your plants shows that they want to share the same space and be in your presence.
Isn’t dog love the best thing?
Reason 3: They’re Being Protective
Before dogs became our best friends that we’re so lucky to share our home and even our bed with they served as herders and guardians of sheep, goats, and cattle.
Plenty of dogs were also used as guardians for farms and homes ready to attack any trespasser.
Of course, you don’t have to own one of these breeds to have a protective dog and if you find them always sitting behind you, especially when you’re out for a walk or there are strangers present then they might be displaying their protective nature.
Even in relaxed situations like laying behind you on the couch your dog might be watching over your shoulder for some possible danger.
You might notice that your dog is choosing to sit behind you because it’s easier for them to keep an eye on entrances to the room.
If that’s the case, try to observe their body language. If your dog is alert when sitting behind you then their body will most likely be tense, ears pointy as if they’re trying to listen to something.
While this behavior might be harmless it could also be a sign of stress or possessive aggression.
Reason 4: They Feel Safe There
There’s also the possibility that your dog isn’t trying to protect you but they are seeking protection instead.
This might sound dramatic, but it doesn’t have to be. Feeling the sense of safety and comfort when sitting behind you, or sitting between your legs, especially if there are strangers present is not unusual especially with less extroverted dogs or puppies.
Dr. Jason Sweitzer states that it’s not surprising to have antisocial dogs since they’ve been bred to protect us, our livestock, and hunt. Dogs weren’t selected for their social behaviors with other dogs so your pooch might be more nervous around dogs and sitting behind you makes them feel protected.
If you have other pets or you’ve got guests visiting you, there’s a chance your dog will snuggle next to you or more precisely behind you while you’re relaxing on the couch. This way they stay somewhat hidden and protected.
If aloofness isn’t part of your dog’s personality, then sitting behind you might have something to do with their environment.
Is there a thunderstorm raging outside? Are you using a mixer that creates an unfamiliar and loud sound? Even a movie with loud gunshots or the sound of your doorbell could make a doggy hide behind you.
Reason 5: It’s Their Spot
While we can be the center of our dog’s universe have you ever considered that your dog is sitting behind you on that couch because it’s simply their spot?
Dogs can create habits and they can get attached to people, specific toys, even a room in your home so it’s not surprising that they can also claim a spot on your couch or armchair.
I mean following the example of this English Bulldog they might also want you to move because their show is about to start!
If a dog is part of a big family, then they might also not have enough space to snuggle on the couch, and sitting behind you is the best they can hope for.
This habit isn’t necessarily harmful as long as your dog isn’t being overly possessive and becomes agitated or aggressive when other pets approach the spot or try to sit behind you.
You can of course reclaim that spot for yourself through proper training and some patience.
Reason 6: For The Warmth
To understand why your canine companion prefers to sit behind you it’s important to look at the possible context in which this behavior comes up.
During the winter months, especially dogs with short coats can experience the cold more than we do. Some will choose to sit behind their owners and even lean against their bodies to protect themselves from the cold wind and to keep themselves warm.
Even when you’re at home your dog might seek to sit or sleep behind you for the warmth your body and blanket are creating.
Before teaching them how to sleep on their own bed, or next to you consider getting them their own personal warm blanket to keep them extra warm.
Reason 7: They Feel Anxious
Your dog’s need to be close to you is a beautiful thing, but being clingy and always following you around is usually a sign of an anxious doggy.
The Merck Veterinary Manual explains that dog anxiety is most commonly caused by fear, separation, and aging.
If you have a nervous and anxious dog they might choose to sit behind you because they’re scared of a newly adopted pet, a visitor or they simply don’t like to be the center of attention.
Separation anxiety could be a major reason why your dog can’t seem to stop following you and every time you stop or sit they also sit behind you.
If your dog experiences anxiety every time you leave you might also notice other behaviors some destructive like chewing on random objects, scratching at doors, or even digging up your yard in order to escape and find you.
Barking, howling, and whining are more mild symptoms of separation anxiety and of course, your dog’s neediness, whenever you return, is another. Your dog might sit behind you a few minutes before you’re about to leave, or they’ll follow you around the house as you get ready for work.
Living in constant stress isn’t a healthy lifestyle, and it’s important you invest more time in training your doggy to feel more validated and secure even when you’re not there.
Reason 8: They’re Annoyed
If sitting behind you isn’t a habit but it still happens from time to time then perhaps this behavior isn’t completely random.
It could be that it’s your own behavior that has turned your pooch against you and instead of sitting next to you they choose to sulk behind you.
You might think that dogs can’t hold a grudge against their owners but that’s not entirely true. I mean dogs are smart and complex characters.
More so, 2019 research has shown that dogs possess the cognitive and emotional capacity to feel negative feelings after someone has done something to hurt them.
For your dog sitting behind you might be their way of showing you that they are ignoring you because they’re annoyed.
Punishment and shouting can have this effect on a dog, but I’m not going to assume you were using negative reinforcement on your precious doggy.
Maybe you called them a “bad dog” for chewing your favorite shoe, or they know they’ve done something bad so by ignoring you they are avoiding some form of scolding.
Dogs can also see past our words and pick up on our body language. You don’t have to shout at your dog for them to understand that you’re annoyed.
For some dogs, the silent treatment and sitting behind you is the best way to show you that you’ve hurt them, and if you shower them with affection right after then they know it’s working.
Reason 9: They Need Some Alone Time
It’s also possible that your dog isn’t annoyed or ignoring you, but by sitting behind you they are showing you that they need some time alone.
Dogs often times get to be the center of everyone’s attention, especially if there are other people around.
By sitting behind you your dog is still staying somewhere close by, but at the same type they can doze off knowing that they won’t be bothered.
Reason 10: You’re Encouraging Them
No matter why your dog had sat behind in the first place the reason why they keep sitting behind you consistently is encouragement.
Dogs can develop good and unwanted habits if we are not careful to guide them towards what is accepted.
The initial reason your dog curled up behind you while you were watching tv could have been a thunderstorm, or their need to be close to you when they were a puppy. But if they were never told that they’re not allowed to sit there then they won’t give up their comfy seat behind you.
If over time your dog becomes confident that this is their seat then they might even start headbutting you to make sure you move away from it.
It’s also possible that this is more of an attention-seeking behavior.
Your dog knows that they’ll be moved away from that spot but they keep going there because that’s how they get your attention. If every time you move them you start cuddling them, or you give them a toy to play with then it’s only natural and logical that they’ll keep practicing this method.
Reason 11: They’re Not Feeling Well
As with most dog behaviors noticing your doggy suddenly acting weird is worth investigating.
If your canine companion has never shown any desire to sit behind you before and now they try to squeeze between you and your chair, or the couch then this could be a sign of illness.
Whether they have sustained an injury and they’re in pain or they are suffering from parasites, infection, or disease they might try to seek comfort in your presence.
With sudden shifts in behavior like this one the best thing you can do is take your pooch to the vet, but also observe other possible signs of sickness like a change in their appetite, energy levels, possible vomiting, or diarrhea.
Should I Be Worried If My Dog Is Sitting Behind Me?
Whether this is a behavior that needs to be stopped or not is to an extent your decision to be made.
The explanation behind this behavior could also affect this decision. If it’s the result of their separation anxiety, a lack of confidence, or possessive aggression over a spot then these are all reasons enough to stop it.
When your dog is sitting behind you without getting in the way while you’re busy in the kitchen or you’re working at your desk then it should be fine, but if they sit behind you when you yourself are sitting then it can be dangerous, especially when it comes to small breeds or puppies.
It’s possible to forget that your dog is laying behind you and move in a way that will hurt them, after all, we do have a weight advantage.
By sitting behind you your dog might be using this position to chase other pets away and even if they do it in a playful manner this can create tension and stress especially for smaller and timid pets like cats.
To have a good relationship with your canine companion sometimes you need to teach them that certain behaviors are unwelcome and sitting behind you might be one of those behaviors.
What Can You Do If Your Dog Is Sitting Behind You?
If you sense that this behavior stems from your dog’s insecurities or it’s simply becoming an irritating habit, then you need to make a few changes.
Dogs are willing to listen as long as you’re ready to help them understand.
Figure Out What made Your Dog Sit Behind You In the First Place
Before you try to redirect your dog from sitting behind you, it’s crucial that you understand what happened when they initially started doing this.
This way not only will you find out what might be causing this, but also how you’ve been reacting to it yourself.
Perhaps that’s when you give your dog most of your attention, or it only happens during thunderstorms.
It’s also possible that boredom is driving your dog to sit behind you which is also an important piece of information that lets you know that your dog needs more exercise, play, or general attention.
Give Them Another Alternative
If your dog is always trying to find opportunities to sit behind you on the couch, your office chair, or your reading armchair then you might need to consider your dog’s comfort.
I’d suggest creating a cozy area where they can feel safe, comfortable, and happy while staying in close proximity to you.
An alternative spot could be on the couch next to you instead of behind you, or it could be a nice dog bed with a warm blanket, surrounded by their favorite toys, placed by your couch or working desk.
This way your dog will have their own sitting area and with some encouragement, they won’t have to sit behind you anymore.
Their perfect seat could be this incredibly soft and fluffy dog bed by Best Friends by Sheri that you can check out on Amazon. It comes in four different sizes S-XL, multiple colors and there’s also a matching blanket option!
Another option would be to crate train your dog. I know what you may be thinking, a crate feels like you’re locking your dog inside a cage, but I think it’s more appropriate to think of it as a den.
According to AKC, “a crate provides them with a feeling of security, and when trained to use them from an early age, crates can help calm anxiety.”
You can place it in a quiet corner where your dog can have their own time out from you and the family. You can make it as cozy as possible with the Best Friends by Sheri dog bed and use treats to create that positive association, so they can forget about squeezing themselves behind you on the couch.
Crate training can also help your dog feel less anxious when you leave so when you return they don’t have to follow you like a constant shadow.
Encourage Them To Sit Somewhere Else
Once you have the perfect bed or crate set up then it’s time to train your dog and redirect them towards that bed rather than sitting behind you.
Crate training is one option as I’ve mentioned above, but most importantly the whole process needs to follow the positive reinforcement method.
Dogs don’t respond well to shouting or punishment instead they need a peaceful environment to learn or unlearn certain behaviors.
Use treats and praise when they use the area that you want them to sit. If they try to sit behind you use one-word commands that your dog can understand like “no” or “off” so they can jump off the couch.
You can use gestures to show them where you want them to sit and tell them “here” or “sit” in the spot you want them to sit in. Whenever your dog listens to you use treats to reinforce the good behavior instead of the bad.
Don’t forget to also spend more time training your dog, playing with them and exercising, as well as socializing with them. This way not only are you giving them the attention they need but you also work on building their confidence.
This is important for all dogs but especially for nervous companions that tend to shy away from visitors and other dogs at the park and they cope with this by sitting behind you.
All this training will take time so be patient and support them in their ups and downs!
Why Does My Dog Sit Behind Me On the Couch?
Now I’ve mentioned the couch a few times throughout this article, but I do want to highlight this habit since some of you might only relate to this section.
Squeezing themselves between you and the couch or any other sitting furniture is usually a sign of closeness. Your dog probably finds this position comfy, warm and they get to feel safe and loved all at the same time, and probably quite similar to when dogs choose to sleep between their owner’s legs.
If you don’t know how this started but you want to change this behavior you still can. Your dog could have had multiple reasons to sit behind you on the couch, but now it has turned into a habit and perhaps at first, you laughed it off as something cute.
This probably reinforced their behavior and with time sitting behind you turned into their favorite sitting or sleeping spot.
It’s best to curb this behavior the moment it begins, but even if it’s well ingrained by now, you can still teach them to sleep in their bed or in another position through positive reinforcement.
As you look deeper into your dog’s behavior you might uncover different reasons that explain why they like to sit behind you or lay between you and your couch.
It’s important to know how it may have begun, perhaps out of fear, their need to protect you or to get you to play with them.
What is even more important is to understand whether you accept this behavior or you want to change it and find your dog a better place to sit and lay, in which case investing more of your time to spend it with your dog, working on your communication, and training them can help your dog be more independent!
Now tell us does your dog sit behind you at all times, or do they only do it the moment you decide to sit down yourself?