Why Does My Dog Sit On My Chest? (Explained By Vet Tech)

Why Does My Dog Sit On My Chest

If you have a dog, you already know that they love to get in your personal space.  All dogs have different ways of showing love, but many involve being very close to you.  Your pet might do things that just end up being a little too much!

Some dogs like to paw their owners when they want attention, others might sit so close to you that you can’t move.  Some pups might even sit on their owners.

If you’re here, you’re already wondering, “why does my dog sit on my chest?”

Dogs sometimes sit on the chests of their owners because they’re feeling cold, anxious, or loving. In some cases, dogs might sit on your chest because they are resource-guarding or they want you to stay put. If your dog sits on your chest and licks you, you might just smell good!  

In this article, we’ll try to get to the bottom of why your pet in particular sits on you.  Plus, we’ll talk about what to do if you’re sick of it and how to prevent it from happening in the future.

What Does It Mean When Your Dog Sits On You?

There are plenty of reasons why dogs seem to want to sit right on top of their owners.  Oftentimes, these reasons vary by situation, breed, and individual.  Dogs can’t communicate with us through words, so, when they do something dramatic with their bodies, it usually means they’re trying to get a point across.  When a dog sits right on you, there’s a good chance they’re communicating something.

On top of that, some dogs might sit on their owners due to instinctual behaviors.  Rottweilers are a great example of a large dog breed that often wants to sit right on their humans.  Because of their breeding history, Rotties might be inclined to sit protectively on their owners.  Or, they could be trying to “herd” the person they’re sitting on.

Generally, when your dog sits on you, it’s a positive thing.  But, it can feel overwhelming and aggressive depending on the size of your pooch.  So, does dominance come into play at all in these situations?

Does It Have Anything To Do With Dominance?

Usually, dominant dogs aren’t found in a relaxed and seated position.  Some signs that dogs are trying to assert dominance are resisting commands, refusing to move out of the way, growling, and other more aggressive behaviors!

With this train of thought, it’s hard to connect the simple act of sitting with dominance.  If your dog sits on you, it’s much more likely that they’re trying to “say: something nice rather than something aggressive.  However, if your dog does sit on you and growl at you, you have some dominance issues to deal with!

Reasons Why Your Dog Might Sit On Your Chest

So, what could make your dog want to sit on such a specific area of your body?  Your chest isn’t necessarily to comfiest part of you and it’s definitely not convenient.  Even so, plenty of dogs end up on their owners’ torsos.

Below we’ve listed some things that might explain your pup’s funky behavior.

1. They’re Gaurding A Resource (You)

One of the biggest reasons a dog might sit on someone’s chest is to guard a resource.

Resource guarding is one of the reasons why dogs are so protective over their owners.  In the wild, dogs needed to fight to protect things like food, water, and shelter.  Today, dogs still have instincts that tell them to protect what’s theirs.

Usually, resource guarding is focused on toys and food.  Dogs can uncharacteristically snap to protect their items around the house.  Sometimes, resource guarding can extend to owners and you can become something they feel the need to defend.  If your dog takes up position on your chest, it might be their way of marking their territory and claiming you as their own.

Resource guarding can be a tricky behavior to fix and or prevent.  Luckily, plenty of qualified trainers online can offer tips and tricks.  If you think you’re dealing with a territorial dog, watch the video below.

2. They’re Anxious

According to the American Kennel Club, separation anxiety affects 14% of dogs.

Anxiety manifests in all kinds of ways in dogs.  Sadly, anxiety can lead to destructive behaviors like excessive barking, panting, drooling, and urinating or defecating indoors.  Separation anxiety begins when dogs are unable to comfort or calm themselves when left alone.  If your dog feels anxiety when you’re gone, it’s possible that it’ll become a velcro dog when you’re around.

Anxious dogs might sit on their owners’ chests to feel close to them.  Dogs find comfort in physical proximity.  It’s one of the reasons why a dog might sit so close to you in general.  Dogs are hardwired to find comfort in packs.  You’ll notice that when puppies sleep, they sleep in a big pile.  This is because dogs find comfort and safety in numbers.  For an anxious dog, sitting on you could be a form of therapy.

By sitting on your chest, your dog may be trying to calm itself.  They’re finding comfort by being right on top of you and are taking full advantage of your position on the couch.

If you think your dog may be in the early stages of suffering from an anxiety disorder, it’s probably a good idea to talk to your veterinarian.  Often, these things become worse over time and without treatment, so try to get a professional opinion sooner rather than later.

3. They Want Something From You

Besides anxiety and resource guarding, your dog might take a position on your chest because they need something from you.

Are you zoned out and watching TV?  Maybe you didn’t notice your dog looking intently at you or running to the door.  If your dog is trying to get your attention and can’t, you might find that they put themselves right on top of you.

Sitting on your chest might be your dog’s way of letting you know that they want something from you. Whether it’s a trip outside or a plea for dinner, you won’t ignore your dog if they’ve plopped down onto your chest.

Unfortunately, this isn’t really a healthy way to get your attention. Try to spare your pup a glance every now and then so that they know you’re paying attention to them. That way, you can try and anticipate their wants and needs without them, well… sitting on your chest!

4. They’re Cold

Even though dogs have year-round fur coats, they can still get cold too.

Dogs have different tolerances for cold temperatures.  Mountain dogs like Great Pyrenees can handle the cold really well.  They usually won’t get hyperthermic until temperatures drop below 15F.  But, smaller dogs like chihuahuas will get cold much easier, especially if they’re not acclimated to the cold weather.

If you have a smaller dog or a pet with a very short coat, it’s possible that they’ll get cold indoors.  In an extreme case, your dog might choose to sit on your chest, because your torso is the warmest part of your body.  If your dog starts to get cozy and curled up on your chest, they really might just feel warm there.

If you don’t want your dog to warm up on your chest, you can try giving them a cozier environment at home.  Raising the temperature slightly in your home during the winter can be a great way to make sure your pets are cozy indoors.  If you want to avoid raising your heating bill you can also give your furry friend some clothing or more blankets during the cold months.  Even if they don’t like a sweater at first, they’ll get used to it, and it will keep them warm without them having to resort to using your body heat.

5. They Want You To Stay Put

We’ve said it before and we can’t stress it enough, dogs cannot communicate with words!  They have to resort to using other methods to get their point across.

If your dog is sitting on your chest, they could be trying to get you to stay in one place.  Instead of using their words, they’re using their body to say, “don’t move!”  If you think about it, sitting on someone is definitely one method of communicating that you don’t want them to get up.

Another way your dog might communicate that they don’t want you to leave is by putting its paw on your chest.  If your dog is using their body to keep you close, try to be understanding and appreciative.  Although it might get annoying, they really just want to be close to you.  You can try shifting them to the side while assuring them that you’re not going to get up.

6. They Love You

We love our pets and they love us.

We show our pets that we love them by petting them, feeding them, and playing with them.  Our pets might show us love in more unconventional ways.  Dogs may wag their tails and give their owners kisses to show affection.  Dogs will also seek physical proximity as a way of showing love.

If you can’t figure out why your dog sits on your chest, it may just be their way of showing you love.  They’re excited to see you and want to get as close to you as possible.  Think of it as a big hug from your furry friend.

7. You Smell Delicious

Something unexpected that could explain why your dog sits on your chest is that you smell good.

Have you ever noticed that your dog likes to smell your breath?  Well, one of the many reasons why they like to do this is that they can smell what you ate hours after the fact.  So, if your dog is getting up on your chest and sniffing your face, they might just be smelling you.  If you’re curious about why else your dog smells your breath, read more about it in our article here.

If you feel like your dog is just sitting on your chest to sniff your mouth, feel free to push them right off!  This isn’t really appropriate behavior and your dog shouldn’t get that close to you just to sniff something!

8. You’re Asking For It!

The final reason why your dog might sit on your chest is that you’re encouraging the behavior.

When we’re stumped as to why our animals are doing something, it’s always important to consider our own actions as well.  When your dog jumps up onto you, do you reward them by giving them kisses and then proceed to be upset with them when they do the same thing to strangers?  It can be confusing for dogs when they get mixed signals.

If your dog used to sit on your chest as a puppy and you loved it, they probably don’t see the problem.  Actually, they probably think that sitting on your chest means that they get attention and love.  If you ever positively reinforced your dog for sitting on your chest, you have some work to do!  But, don’t worry, we’ll talk about how to break that habit down below.  First, we’re going to address the issues of your dog also licking your face while they’re sitting up on you!

Why Does My Dog Sit On My Chest And Lick My Face?

Is your dog one of the pets that not only sits on your chest but also licks your face?  Sometimes these things can go hand in hand.  But, if you look at our reasons above, some of them might help you understand the added licking behavior.

If your dog licks you while they’re sitting on you, it could just be another way for your dog to show you love and affection.  Or, your dog might be trying to get a crumb of whatever they’re smelling on your breath.

What To Do If Your Dog Keeps Sitting On Your Chest

So, what can you do if you don’t want your dog sitting on your chest?  That answer is going to depend on why you think your dog does this in the first place.

So your first step is going to be deciding what you think their motivation for this behavior is.  Then, with that in mind, you can move on to try the next couple of tricks.

Prevent The Behavior From Happening In The First Place

Prevention is key in dog training. If you can keep your dog from ever sitting on your chest in the first place, it’s not something they’ll even think about doing.  Try to prevent this behavior by fixing the root of the problem.

If they’re cold, give them a better place to sit. If they’re anxious, consult your veterinarian. When your dog is a puppy, don’t let them sit on your chest.  Even though it’s sweet, they’ll grow up thinking that it’s acceptable when it might not be.

Give Them Attention Before They Sit On You

Giving your dog attention before they act up is another method of prevention.

Try to check in with your pet every once in a while and make sure they’re okay. If they’re moving around anxiously or staring at you intently, they probably need something. Try to address their needs before it gets to the point that they’re literally sitting right on top of you!

Just Stand Up

If prevention and attention aren’t working, you can always just stand up. It might not be the most elegant way of getting your dog off of you but standing up will show them that sitting on your chest is not going to get them what they want.

Simply stand up and look at your dog. At that point, you can reassess the situation and see what they really want.  Maybe you can invite them to sit next to you on the couch as opposed to right on top of you.

Final Thoughts

Having your dog sit on your chest is cute until it’s not.  At some point, we all just want a little space and respect from our pets.  Luckily, this behavior isn’t usually associated with aggression or any negative motivators.  Reasons, why your dog might sit on you, include anxiety, possessiveness, temperature, love, and communication.

The best way to keep your dog from sitting on your chest is to prevent the behavior in the first place.  If you pay attention to what your dog really needs, they shouldn’t feel the need to hop up onto your chest or even lick your face at the same time.  And, if all else fails, just stand up!

We hope this article has helped you determine why your dog likes to spend time sitting on you and how to avoid it in the future!

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