Is your dog overly affectionate? Does it lay on top of you often, even if you try to shoo it away?
There are many reasons why it may be doing it, and those reasons began long ago.
Every dog on Earth today is descended from wolves. This means that ancient humans somehow tamed ancient wolves long ago, which later evolved into dogs as we know them.
It's an incredible story without a proper first chapter. No one knows how or exactly when ancient wolves became companions with ancient humans and began their evolutionary transformation into dogs.
Some experts believe that ancient wolves evolved into dogs as early as 12,000 years ago. And there is research that considers that dog domestication began at least 40,000 years ago.
Other experts believe that the evolutionary transformation began as long as 130,000 years ago.
Ancient wolves were born in litters and existed as multi-animal packs to survive. Wolves are fierce hunters and survivalists who know how to take care of themselves.
It is heartwarming to believe that some ancient human picked up a wolf cub millennia ago and jump-started the domestication process.
But the origin story may not be so simple.
Ancient wolves might have trailed and studied hunter-gatherer humans for some time to learn their behavior. Then gradually, each wolf generation may have become more comfortable approaching the humans by the campfire.
Ancient wolves may have realized the benefit of becoming human companions instead of struggling with starvation and the cold.
Some research believes that dog domestication happened purely by accident. Ancient wolves may have happened upon the discarded meat and food of ancient humans and began trailing them.
And ancient humans may have realized that by sharing their food with the wolves, they will gain companions, hunting partners, and security guardians.
If you want to think about it another way, maybe the dog actually helped domesticate human society somehow.
The actual point of this history lesson is never to assume that your dog is blissfully innocent and incapable of emotional manipulation.
Just as you know your dog's habits and traits, your dog probably learned yours long ago without you realizing it.
There may be perfectly innocent and cute reasons why your dog is laying on you
But some of those reasons may not be innocent nor cute.
Here are some reasons why your dog enjoys laying on you.
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Related: How Many Dog Treats is Too Many
Have you noticed that when you walk your dog, they may bark and respond to passing dogs or other unseen dogs behind gates or doors?
Dogs are social animals who love being in the company of other animals and human beings by extension.
Ancient wolves existed, hunted, ate, and slept in packs. There was a time when hunting in a pack was the only way for wolves to live.
And yes, your dog is not a wolf, but the instinct to fall back on the pack mentality is still hard-wired in your dog's DNA. So, laying on top of you may be the closest approximation your dog can recreate of the pack mentality.
This could especially be true if your dog is left home alone often. When your dog lays on top of you, it may be trying to convey that it considers you a part of its pack.
Ancient wolves slept close together to combine body heat and feel secure. And ancient wolves and modern dogs both are born in litters, with pups recreating the same activity.
Pups lay together and crawl on each other for warmth and to feel a sense of security. Reveling in the pack mentality and feeling secure makes puppies feel confident and eager to explore the world with their brethren.
Even though you may have adopted or purchased your pet, it may still remember being born in a litter before being separated by its birth family. Laying on top of you may be your dog's way of trying to recreate that nostalgic sense of warmth and security when it was a pup in a litter.
And even if your dog does not remember being a pup in a little, its wolf descended instincts of being in a litter may be manifesting itself.
At the very least, your dog may be trying to share your body heat and get warm when laying on you.
Your dog may be lying on top of you as a way to feel security or protection. Your dog may be lying on top of you as a means to protect you.
The breed of dog you own could explain why your dog enjoys laying on top of you.
Many dog breeds were bred for the singular purpose of guarding families and the home. These dog breeds can include but are not limited to:
- Great Danes
- German Shepherd
- Doberman Pinscher
- Australian Shepherd
- Labrador Retriever
- Cane Corso
And these are just only a few of the family-protective breeds. Any dog can be trained to be very protective. However, if you are an affectionate owner, a dog can learn to value you as a family member and desire to protect you.
Laying on you may be your dog's way of assuring itself that it is protecting you.
In a wolfpack, someone has to be in charge. The top dog, sometimes known as the alpha, can bully the other dogs, the betas, or lay on top of them to assert dominance over the other members in the pack.
Alpha dogs will continually test betas to assert dominance and show everyone who is in charge. When your dog is lying on top of you, it may have decided that it is in control and you are the submissive partner. Your dog may consider you to be a pet.
You will know for sure if your dog begins growling at you or threatening attack if you won't let it lay on you. If you notice this behavior, correct it as soon as possible. Get your dog enrolled in an obedience training course.
If your dog is lying on you, pay attention to its body movements.
Are they happily jumping on top of your chest to lay? Or is it slow, sluggish, and lethargic?
Your pet may be trying to get your attention and tell you it has a medical issue.
It's possible that your dog is very social and enjoys being near you when it lays on top of you. But if the behavior is annoying you, there is something you can do.
Gently remove the dog off of you and try to encourage it to sleep on its doggy bed positively. Reinforce the training by giving the dog treats when it rests in its bed.
Take it outside to walk and exercise so that when you come back home, it may be happy to lay in its bed and rest. Buy toys to keep them entertained instead of lying on your chest.
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