Why Does My Dog Stand Over Me? (Explained By Vet Tech)

Why Does My Dog Stand Over Me

While we love our furry friends and view them as part of the family, there comes a time when using us to sit, sleep, or stand on just isn’t as fun anymore. Maybe when they are puppies, but full-grown adult dogs?

Though I grew up with six small breed dogs, their entire weight on my body still proved burdensome over a bit of time. I can only imagine the uncomfortable feeling of smushing organs when your large breed dog decides you would make a good floor!

I can also imagine that you’re here to ask, why does my dog stand over me?

Dogs stand over you because they need something from you like food or attention, they’re clingy and don’t understand boundaries, or they want reassurance. It typically isn’t a bad thing unless they are displaying dominance or wanting to protect you. You can stop the behavior if necessary through positive reinforcement training or asserting your dominance. 

There are several things your dog might be needing to communicate to you, and sometimes they just find this behavior the most effective!

Below, we will look further into each reason to determine exactly why your pooch is deciding to make you his ground to stand on. Afterward, we will talk about a few techniques to re-train your pal to stop standing over you (and protect your body parts in the process)!

Reason 1: Your Dog Needs Something

Our dogs can’t speak to us, at least not in a verbal language that we can comprehend! Instead, they use non-verbal cues to portray what they want and need. The rest is up to us to figure out based on that body language!

So, what exactly would your dog possibly need that would cause them to communicate by standing on your lap, right over you?

Well, pay attention to the time that your pup does this behavior, as it can help you determine the actual cause.

If you have set times that you open the door to the backyard or get ready for a walk, your dog will know this as it is part of the daily routine. It is likely that your dog might want to be let outside to use the bathroom. Or, he knows it is walk time and he just can’t wait any longer!

Your pooch could also be hungry or thirsty and want more sustenance. After all, it seems our dogs can never get enough food! Not only will he stand over you, blocking you from doing anything else other than pay attention to his needs, but he may also try to lick your face and whimper.

Reason 2: Signs Of Dominance

When your dog jumps up on the couch and takes his stance right over you, observe the other small behaviors he is exhibiting. Is he staring intently at you with a high, strong posture, and his tail and ears fully erect?

If so, your dog is trying to display his dominance over you!

Sometimes, your pup will want to try and be the boss of the household. It has become more common knowledge that dogs form a sort of hierarchy within their familial group, such as with wolves in the wild. They do this to protect their resources, territory, and overall well-being. Asserting dominance often alleviates conflict within the pack that could otherwise result in stress or injury from two opposing parties.

It is only natural that your dog has these subconscious behaviors and will exhibit these with your family- he sees you as his pack! And if you haven’t made it entirely clear from the get-go that you are the “pack leader” and continue to enforce this, then your pup can start to question where he stands.

Cue standing over you just to see where he stands

A study published in 2015 examined the behaviors that suggest a dog is asserting dominance, and it revealed that our pooches will most often have alert ears, a tail that is held high and slightly wagging, and lingering eye contact. They give off this aura of confidence, but be aware that the line between confidence and aggression is thin!

Other signs that this act could be from dominance are resisting commands, lunging at you, or if your pup growls at you when you try to reach for his food, toys, or even his bed. These are all claimed by your dog, and if he wants to be in power, he will make his feelings known!

Your pooch is also likely to do this with other dogs as well, either in the household or out on the streets. Check out this video of a husky at a dog park showing some signs of dominance over the other dogs there, and pay close attention- the behaviors are often subtle and go unrecognized by many!

Reason 3: Your Dog Wants To Protect You

Maybe your dog isn’t necessarily being dominant, but he is behaving in a way that is similar. If this is the case, it could be that he is wanting to protect you!

Resource guarding is a useful tool for your pup to keep what he perceives to be valuable safe. And because you are the one that provides food, water, shelter, and all of the attention, it is expected that your pooch sees you as his most valuable asset in life.

Your dog cares about you, and when placed in an unfamiliar environment, he will want to ensure you stay out of harm’s way!

Your pooch doesn’t fully understand that your friends and family aren’t a threat, nor are the loud noises outside. He does understand, however, that you must be protected at all costs. Who else is going to provide dinner?

With this, it is possible your pup will stand over you and block you from the threatening situation! This is his way of trying to keep you safe, alongside other non-verbal cues of growling at approaching hazards, showing teeth, stiffening the body, and not being afraid to bite if necessary.

These might remind you of dominant behaviors, and that makes sense! It can be difficult to determine the differences but keep a close watch when your pup hops up on you. His ears may be perked up listening to the surroundings, but he won’t be giving you a glaring stare.

His behaviors won’t be directed toward you, but rather toward the foreign events unfolding around you.

Ensure that your dog’s guarding habits don’t become extreme, as this can quickly become a form of aggression. It is a sweet gesture from your furry friend, but we don’t want anybody (or anything) to get hurt in the process!

Reason 4: Wanting Reassurance

Being fearful comes with a unique set of body language for our pups. It’s possible that your dog could be anxious about a current situation, leading to this rigid stance on top of your body.

Being in an unfamiliar environment or surrounded by new, intimidating people can lead to this odd behavior, though some dogs perceive the situation differently. As mentioned above, some pups may feel the need to protect you from possible danger, putting their own safety at risk.

For this possibility, your dog could be the nervous one and want reassurance from you, hoping that you can be his protector!

Other ways that your pup’s fear can manifest is a cowering stance, a tucked tail, and ears back. He may also tremble or give the unwelcome stimulus the “side eye”.

It can appear that your dog is (quite literally) shutting down and skittish to what is happening. Have you ever been scared growing up and tried to make yourself as small as possible, not moving, and hoping whatever threat was there would not notice you?

Bouncing off of this reassurance aspect, your pup may also stand over you if he is feeling ill. Dogs can’t tell us exactly what is wrong, but they can try to let us know that something doesn’t feel right!

You are your dog’s leader and therefore provide him comfort and safety, so it is only natural he will come to you when he doesn’t want to feel sick anymore.

Maybe your pup won’t leave your side all of a sudden, and don’t always chalk it off to him loving you so much he can’t bear it! Standing over you could be one behavior that your pup will go to when he really wants your attention, love, and comfort to absolve his ailments!

Reason 5: Your Dog Is Clingy

We all have that friend that is glued to their dog as much as their dog is glued to them, and maybe that person is you! Most of the time, this is a harmless act of pure love for one another.

Out of my six childhood dogs, one of them was my best friend; we did absolutely everything together. Our eldest dog gave birth to her, and I helped raise her into a confident lady from day one! I wouldn’t dare leave the house for a run or some take-out food without her. I adored the other five, but she was my little girl.

This shadow behavior is what you would describe a “velcro dog” with, and maybe that is exactly what your pup is to you!

Clinginess is common if you adopted your canine pal as a mere puppy, given he grew up with you, always by your side. It has now become a habit and the “norm” to be stuck to your hip.

He doesn’t know what life is like without being your fluffy shadow!

Standing on top of you is another way for your pooch to show you affection and try to get closer to you. And, well, he can’t get any closer to you than physically standing over you! Mix this with some tail wags, happy eyes, and a bunch of licking, and you know you have a lover on your hands.

Why Does My Dog Stand Over Me And Lick My Face?

This almost always means that your dog loves you and wants you to know it!

Dogs often show their love by licking you (what we think of as kissing), as this is what their mother did to groom them when they were young. They care about you and want to make you feel special by doing what they know best!

As briefly mentioned toward the beginning of the article, your pup may lick your face while standing over you because he wants food! Dogs are often shameless when they want food and ultimately have no problem acting unusual or chaotic until you cave and feed them some extra treats (or table scraps).

They’ll lick your mouth or cheeks as if practically screaming, “give me food, and I won’t get off of your belly until I get it!”

Your pooch could also be thirsty and wanting water! Check the water bowl; is it empty or nearly there? Taking a stance over you and licking your face could not only suggest wanting some dinner but also some refreshments.

And if the water bowl is full, then just chalk these kisses up to two things: absolutely adoring you and/or absolutely adoring food.

Why Does My Dog Stand Over Me And Wag His Tail?

If your pup hops up, stands over you, and wags his tail (without any actual signs of dominance), then there is really only one reason left: he is stoked to see you!

Leaving for work is never fun, especially when your pup sits by the door and gives you those puppy-dog eyes. Yet, after a long day, an ecstatic pooch jumping at your return makes you forget the dismal goodbyes!

Wagging his tail, your pup will jump on top of you just to show you how excited he really is to see your face again. It is probably the best part of his day, and he simply wants to share it with you. He must get his pets in!

Now, if it is nearing the time you get up off that couch and play with your pooch, then he probably can’t contain his enthusiasm. Dogs are great with schedules and can sense when playtime is right around the corner.

Standing over you is a great way to get your attention and nudge you to get up to play some fetch or tug of war with him. He has all of this energy pent up and wants to let loose and have fun with you by his side!

Should I Be Worried If My Dog Stands Over Me?

Normally, this behavior is not a cause for concern!

Your pup stands over you because he wants food, water, playtime, affection, or even reassurance. You can give him the comfort, fulfillment, and happiness he desires, continuing to stand over you if he knows this tactic works every time!

Now, if your dog stands over you because he is asserting dominance and testing you, then this issue should be addressed. Similarly, with resource guarding, these behaviors can quickly lead to aggression if left unchecked and must be nipped in the bud before that occurs.

How Can I Stop This Behavior?

Work on retraining your dog if these are the reasons why he stands over you, so your pup can learn that you are the boss at the end of the day.

Start by trying positive reinforcement training to teach your dog that standing over you is not allowed anymore.

Instead of praising your pup for standing over you by giving pets and kisses, ignore this behavior. Redirect him to the seat next to you or the floor and reward him once he sits there instead! With consistency, he will associate the rewards with behaviors that aren’t standing on top of you.

Check out this video that explains the dominant attitude in dogs and the exercises you can practice at home to correct this behavior when that positive reinforcement just isn’t cutting it.

It is fine to assert your dominance with an unruly dog that doesn’t respond to other forms of training.

With these useful tips and some patience, you can train your pooch to listen to your commands and know when a behavior won’t be tolerated anymore! Just remember, it is not aggression, but rather confidence and unwillingness to give in to your dog’s tantrums!

Closing Thoughts

Dogs can act in some pretty bizarre ways that leave us scratching our heads trying to understand why. Standing over you is just one example of these behaviors, and it isn’t just a single reason that answers this question!

Depending on your individual dog, they could be doing this for a variety of reasons, so it is important to notice the other non-verbal cues that your dog is giving while standing over you. Examine your surroundings and see how he is reacting to them.

Hopefully, he simply loves you and wants something from you, rather than trying to assert his dominance, guard you, or find comfort in you due to an illness.

So long as the reason isn’t a cause for trouble, you shouldn’t have to worry about stopping the behavior! That is unless your large breed puppy turned into a massive adult dog and doesn’t realize he’s crushing you under his weight.

Once you can rule out each reason, you’re one step closer to understanding why your pup stands over you!

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