NotABully.org is reader-supported. We may earn a small commission through products purchased using links on this page.
Even though they have been domesticated for thousands of years, dogs still carry some basic instincts from wolves, including liking dens. While there is a common image of wolves living in caves, in the wild they usually dig their dens in the ground. And centuries later, dogs still like finding dens, even if they live in a safe warm house with their people.
You might notice your dog finding dens all over your house; sometimes they want dens for privacy but often they find dens that are close to you. Maybe they sleep in their crate, sleep under your bed, or even sit under your desk. Whether you are working at your desk or not, several factors in their environment might encourage your dog to sit under your desk.
So what causes your dog specifically to want to sit under your desk?
Sitting under furniture like a desk is a common behavior for many dogs. If they choose to sit under your desk, it could be because they want to be near you, are comfortable hiding there, or want something. However, if it is a new behavior, it could be a sign of sickness.
Let’s take a look at the different reasons your dog might be sitting under your desk, how you can change the behavior, and if you should be worried!
Reason 1: Your Dog Wants To Be Near You
While it is not unheard of for dogs to become tired of their owners, it is unlikely that you will push them away because you are working at your desk. You are probably ignoring them, kind of like I am ignoring my dogs right now as I write this; even though they are all sitting near me, and one is even sitting under my desk! So if your dog is sitting under your desk, there is a good chance they want to be near you.
For the most part, our dogs are happy to be near us, even if we are not paying attention to them. Even independent breeds like Great Pyrenees like loving affirmation from their owners, even if they are not typical velcro dogs.
The term “velcro dog” refers to a dog that is clingy and seems to constantly want affection and attention from you. As long as your dog’s attachment to you does not turn into separation anxiety, having a velcro dog can be very special. Some breeds, like bulldogs, are known for being velcro dogs. You will likely find these dogs sitting under their owner’s desk to be near them.
Reason 2: Your Dog Is Denning
Denning is a common behavior with dogs. A den, or a small private place, makes them feel safe and comfortable. A common denning behavior you might notice is dogs sleeping with their crate open.
Humans often think of tight spaces as traps and uncomfortable, but to dogs, it is reminiscent of the classic den behavior of their wolf ancestors. Some wolves even dig a den under tree roots, like the mother of these wolf pups did in the video below.
Many animals seek den-like enclosures like crates, beds, tables, under porches, or desks when they are whelping, scared, sick, or want the comfort of a private space. Dogs do usually enjoy being out in the open with humans, but certain things may trigger them to seek refuge and the safety of a den.
So, if your dog normally enjoys sitting under your desk, they might appreciate the tightly enclosed space that reminds them of a den. It is safe and cozy for them and your desk probably does not get moved around, making it a constant part of their environment.
However, if your dog sitting under your desk is a new behavior, you might want to keep an eye on what is triggering it and make adjustments if it behavioral problem or visit a veterinarian if you think your dog is sick.
Reason 3: You Are Stressed
If you notice your dog is suddenly more affectionate and choosing to sit under your desk, it could be you! We live in a new world where more and more people have the option of working remotely from home. And our dogs usually love it; they get to spend all day with their best friend instead of staying home alone.
However, instead of shaking it off on our way home from work, any work-related stress we might experience is also going to affect our dogs. There has been a lot of research that proves that dogs are incredibly sensitive to your emotions and if you are feeling stressed it will likely cause your dog concern about you. Dogs are empathetic to human emotions, and your stress could trigger them to come and sit under your desk to try to make you feel better.
Reason 4: Your Dog Is Scared Or Stressed
Many dogs who are scared or stressed will seek out places like your desk to hide. Many triggers in their environment can scare your dog. For some dogs, it could be new people, loud yelling, thunder, or fireworks.
Since many frightened dogs like enclosed den-like spaces to help them feel safe, it is only natural that you might find your dog sitting under your desk if they are suddenly frightened or stressed.
Once you get to know your dog, you can predict what might cause them to hide. If they sit under your desk after something scary happens, for example, loud noises like fireworks or thunder, you can try snug-fitting shirts, anti-anxiety medication, or even soft music to cover the loud noise and calm down your dog.
However, it might not be such a bad thing for your dog to sit under your desk to hide. As long as they are not destructive, it is a much better behavior than trying to run away! At least you know they are safe and you can be there to comfort them.
Reason 5: Your Dog Wants Food
If you are working at your desk, your dog might let you know they are hungry by sitting under your desk. Some dogs think they are hungry all the time, and if you are working at your desk when they think it is mealtime, sitting under your desk is a good way to keep you from forgetting to feed them!
There are a lot of good guidelines out there to help you figure out how much to feed your dog so you can determine whether your dog is getting enough food or if they just like to eat!
However, it might not their food your dog is after, it could be your food. If your dog is sitting under your desk when you are eating, they might be waiting for crumbs or maybe a treat. While some people’s food is okay for dogs, remember that a lot of food we eat like deli meat, chocolate, and grapes is unhealthy for dogs to ingest!
Reason 6: Your Dog Is Bored
A bored dog might sit under your desk as a sign that it is playtime and you are ignoring their signals. Perhaps they want pets and attention. In this compilation video, you can see all the different kinds of ways dogs might demand pets.
However, if your dog keeps bugging and staring at you even after you have petted them, maybe they are letting you know it is time to get up and go outside for a potty break and a walk.
You do not want to ignore signals and accidentally teach your dog bad habits like pooping in the house or start chewing up household items because they are bored.
A dog who wants to play all the time because of boredom probably needs more exercise or mental stimulation, and if they sit under your desk it could be a sign they want attention from you.
While every dog has their own individual personality, remember to research breeds before you bring them home so you get the perfect dog for your family. If you do not have time to run a marathon with a high-energy dog every day, there are a lot of dogs that would rather sleep than sit under your desk!
How Do I Stop My Dog From Sitting Under My Desk?
There is a difference between a polite dog sitting under a desk and a dog that keeps bothering you, drooling on your feet, or, even worse, starts to chew on your computer cord! Here are some tools to help you change their behavior if your dog sitting under your desk starts to become a problem.
1. Do Not Reward The Behavior
What do you do when your dog sits under your desk? Do you talk to them, pet them, or let them lick your plate after you have finished your sandwich? You have been rewarding the behavior of sitting under your desk.
So, simply stop encouraging the behavior, and in most cases, your dog will stop because they no longer get a positive reward anymore. Sitting under your desk is no longer fun or rewarding for them. In the dog training world, this is called “extinction.”
2. Train Your Dog To Relax Somewhere Else
Try one of these two solutions to train your dog to relax somewhere else if you do not want them to sit under your desk. If you think they are sitting under your desk because they like the den-like environment, you should think about crate-training your dog.
If you spend a lot of time in your office you can even keep your crates near your desk! I keep my dogs’ crates near my desk, and they love hanging out in their crates while I am working.
Mat training is also a good alternative to help change your dog’s behavior if you do not want them to sit under your desk. In this video, Kikopup shows your how to train your dog to choose to go their bed automatically.
Just like their crate, you can always keep one of your dog’s beds near your desk so they still get to be near you, but are not sitting under your desk.
3. Give Them Something To Do
If your dog is sitting under your desk because they are bored, there are many interactive puzzle toys and long-lasting chews and food toys that you can give your dog to entertain themselves. Not only will these provide mental stimulation, but you can give them to your dog in their crate or on their bed and simultaneously reward those behaviors!
Keep in mind that not every bone or rawhide out there is okay for your dog to chew on. Certain new treats might cause a midnight bathroom emergency or a visit to the veterinarian if your dog’s digestive system cannot handle it.
Should You Be Worried If Your Dog Is Sitting Under Your Desk?
As we have already established, your desk can be a den-like enclosure that can make your dog feel comfortable and safe. Many dogs like to sit under your desk because they feel snug and secure.
However, if they are not feeling good, there is a good chance they will sit under your desk to hide from anything that could make their already uncomfortable self feel even worse. Seeking out a den-like enclosure is a common behavior for sick dogs.
Besides hiding and sitting under your desk, other signs that your dog may be sick and need to go to a veterinarian include:
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Lack of appetite
- Accidents in the house
- Bloated stomach
- Stiffness or trouble standing up
If sitting under your desk is a new behavior and you are sure your dog is not hiding from something that is scaring or stressing them out, please keep an eye out for any of these symptoms. If you are worried about your dog you should make an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible!
Letting your dog sit under your desk is not only up to your individual preferences, but also depends on your dog’s personality. Of course, you should train a new behavior if they are sitting under your desk to beg or interrupt your work. And you should discourage them from chewing on something they should not, like cords, while sitting under your desk.
However, if your dog is politely sitting under your desk, and you are both enjoying each other’s company, there is no harm in letting them continue that behavior. They feel safe in a den-like place and are happy to be near their human!