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Should I Let My Puppy Sit On Me?

Should I let my puppy sit on me?

I am curious to get your answers.

When my weimaraner Remy was a little puppy, he would jump and paw and grab at people (oh wait, he still does that). Obviously this is not a behavior I want to encourage, and I don’t.

But another thing Remy did as a puppy was try to crawl into my lap if I was sitting on the floor next to him. He was even more likely to do this if he was holding a rawhide or bully stick.

It’s cute that my puppy wanted to sit in my lap (awww), but it’s also a behavior I didn’t want to encourage.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t let your puppy or dog sit on you. I just don’t want my dogs sitting on people.

Why does my puppy sit on me?

Is it OK to let my puppy sit on me

Here are some reasons why puppies or dogs might sit on their owners. I’m listing these in the order I think is most common:

1. Affection. This is probably the #1 reason!

2. Seeking attention.

3. Security.

4. Hogging attention from other pets or from whatever else the person is doing.

5. Blocking or “guarding” another dog from the person. Not necessarily in an aggressive way but just by being there.

6. Feeling more powerful (think of the little dog sitting on her owner and snapping at everyone).

7. Keeping another dog from getting a bone or toy.

8. More serious possessiveness/resource guarding.

What else should be on the list?

Note that most of these are all related to “dominance” in some small way but not it’s not so simple as “My dog is trying to Dominate Me!”

Also see my post: Why do dogs lean on you?

Should I let my puppy sit on me

Why I didn’t let my puppy sit on me

My puppy is now a big 55-pound dog. That’s basically why I didn’t let him sit on me very often as a puppy. I knew he would GROW!

When he used to try sitting on me, I think it was mostly for security, but also for demanding attention and preventing my other dog from taking his toy or bone (even though no one was actually trying to take it).

I liked when Remy wanted to sit on my lap, but I knew it was not a good behavior to encourage from my particular puppy. Each dog is different.

Remy’s personality seems to be very sweet and friendly, but he also tests the limits with me to see what he can get away with.

At four months old, he already used his body to barge in and get what he wanted. Part of that was and still is immaturity, but I also know Remy has a bit of a “pushy” attitude. At least more so than my older dog Ace.

So, I set limits with Remy.

I should be able to sit on the floor next to him without him climbing on me.

Bottom line is the human gets to decide who invades her space and when. The puppy or dog does not get to decide (and either do any other pets, for that matter).

So I tell my dogs to lie down and stay (right next to me is fine), and they get praise for that.

When Remy tries to grab my arms, put his paws on me or climb on me, I block him by putting my knees up or my elbows out or I just stand up and leave.

By the way, I’m not perfect. It’s hard to be consistent.

Teach your puppy the word OFF

We are using the word OFF with Remy which means DO NOT TOUCH ME. So we use it when he’s jumping or when he’s pawing at us or when he’s trying to nudge us or climb on us. Yes, he’s pushy. He’s constantly invading my bubble, and it’s rude. Mostly, I just want him to learn some self-control so he can eventually leave guests alone.

Of course, jumping and pawing is normal puppy behavior, but it’s our biggest challenge still.

See my post: Stop my puppy from jumping for attention.

Why does my puppy sit on me when he has a bone?

Remy used to try to sit on my lap when he had a bully stick or bone. Now, at 12 months old, he still likes to lean on me when he has a bone. (See my post: Why does my dog want me to hold his bone?)

I’d like to hear your thoughts on this behavior.

Is it for security? Is it too pushy/demanding? Is it to keep the item away from other pets?

I think yes to all of the above.

I think it’s a fairly harmless behavior but one to be aware of and set some limits depending on your unique dog. Again, the human gets to decide if she wants to hold the bone or not. The puppy does not get to decide!

I’m glad Remy seeks me out for security and that he’s cool with me holding his bone. It’s a nice way to bond with him. But, I don’t like how he barges up to me and shoves his rawhide in my hand. Um, excuse me!

OK, I’d like to hear your take on all of this.

Do you let your dog sit on you?

Also see my post: Stop my small dog from guarding me.

Do you think I have the right approach with Remy? Let me know in the comments.


Thursday 21st of January 2021

I love my dog very much but he’s 65 lbs and as selfish as it sounds I don’t want to buy a new recliner every 6 months and my little dog sits on my lap sometimes as well, So my conflict is not making it an all the time thing without isolating him and his feelings.

Lindsay Stordahl

Thursday 21st of January 2021

Making it an invite only rule works for some, if you're consistent in your rules.

Lisa Goodell

Wednesday 8th of March 2017

Basil sits, and sleeps, on me a lot and always has. I love the cuddle time. She weighed 4lbs when I got her at four months and now at close to a year she's weighs about 16lbs, so size is a big factor. If it weren't comfortable for me I wouldn't allow it.

All that said I have pretty strict limits and so does she. She knows the word off and if she tries to gain my attention or show a lot of attitude by going to "higher ground" I immediately tell her off. She also is prone to jumping in any human lap to get higher if she's playing with larger dogs. I don't allow it at all (others - daycare - have more tolerance). I don't like that it puts the person in the middle of hyper playing dogs and because I let her sit in my lap I don't want her to learn to be aggressive when she's on me. I also don't let her sit on me when she's got a chew toy.

I worked on positive reinforcement with her bed on the floor as she got older and now it works really well. I control when and if she sits on me and even though most of the time I allow it, I'm still making the decision. If she's very tired she'll choose to sleep away from me so she doesn't have to get up every time I do. That's about the only time she'll choose another spot so I make sure to continually give her opportunities to rest away from me and tasty treats when she goes to her bed.

LizaJane Johnston

Wednesday 8th of March 2017

I had a 110 lb chocolate lab who thought he was a lap dog and I rarely corrected him but he only sat on my lap. My puppy now isn't affectionate, so I love when lays by me or lays his head on my lap to me it means maybe he does like me haha and also that he's actually tired. When he tries to climb up on me while playing I do discourage it, he gets a bit wild at only 7 mths.


Wednesday 8th of March 2017

My mom's dogs are notorious for this! They're pretty good about not climbing on us if we're sitting on the couch, etc. They usually sit next to us which is fine. But somehow we allowed them to sit ON us if we were sitting on the floor with them. Like, we got down on their level and now its okay to be on top of us! So really its our choice if we want to get down on the floor and let them climb on/sit on us, so its not so bad. The chocolate lab is a 4 year old, stocky 65 lbs and the golden is less than a year at maybe 40 lbs. I wish I could add a picture to this thread because its quite entertaining nonetheless :)

Sandy Weinstein

Tuesday 28th of June 2016

i have to say i let my girls sit on me, the baby, now 5 used to sleep on my head. now she likes to lay on my shoulder in bed with her head propped up on the pillow. my girls love to be right next to me. when i sit down, they climb on board. i dont really mind, however, i can see that it would bother guests if they did that to them. but then if people come to my house, they have to love my girls or else. when i am at the pc, sometimes 2 of them want to sit in my lap, i will try it for a few minutes but then it get too hard and i cant type. they love to have their tummies rubbed, love to kiss and cuddle. they dont do it when they have a treat, only when they want to cuddle or i sit down or am in bed. my girls loved to be hugged and kissed.