Why Does My Dog Stand on Me: Popular Myth Debunked

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Let’s be honest. Pups often do things that humans don’t particularly get. Although we certainly love to think we understand their body language correctly, sometimes we don’t. But experts are always conducting research, and we’re here to make the best of it.

Does your dog randomly stand on you while you’re sitting or laying down on the couch or bed to rest? You may be asking: “Why does my dog stand on me?”

Is it true that dogs are still driven by a primal instinct to assert dominance despite centuries of domestication? What are the real driving forces behind this behavior? These are all questions we address today, so tag along as we do!

Misconceptions of the Mythical Alpha Dog

Two family dogs playing

The Myth

Whether a dog is standing on top of you or another dog, the myth is that it’s an act of dominance. Canines, for example, still live in the wildlife and seek high rankings for many privileges. These privileges include eating first and mating more to ensure the presence of strong future pack members.

Similarly, your dog is said to be attempting to assert that it’s the Alpha male of the group – something that might be traced back to when dogs lived in the wildlife. When dogs stand on humans or dogs, that behavior was concluded to be due to the belief that you or the other dog are subordinate to it and weaker too.

Other so-called dominance aggression patterns include:

  • Staring at “the subordinate” for some time with a tense posture
  • Putting one of its paws on their shoulder
  • Disobeying commands
  • Growling
  • Hiding possessions
  • Barking excessively for food
  • Humping their owner’s leg
  • Standing in their way
  • Being physically aggressive towards them

It was also believed that certain dog breeds are more aggressive than others, such as Terrier breeds.

The Myth Debunked

This alpha/beta dynamic that we just described has been widely scrutinized and dismissed through research. Although the notion of the alpha being the most aggressive in a pack seems to be a prevalent narrative in pop culture, it isn’t exactly true to life.

Wolves take turns leading the pack, so a social hierarchy exists within the group (as it does among people), but it does so in no relation to aggression. Besides, according to studies into canine behavior, the attempt to understand dog behavior by likening it to wolf behavior is invalid because, despite some affinities, there are more disparities.

Therefore, we should dispense with the belief that dogs are “domesticated wolves” of some sort and disregard training books that reinforce that narrative and that tell dog owners to show their dogs who’s “boss”.

Why Does My Dog Stand on Me and Lick My Face?

Here, we’re discussing two behaviors; therefore, we need to treat them as such: standing over a dog owner (or other dogs) and licking their faces or facial expressions, and there’s a difference in their driving factors.

Why Dogs Stand Over You or Another Dog

Pretty lady hugging cute dog on floor among sketches

We may have established that the reason for this dog behavior isn’t to assert dominance, so what else could it be?

  1. Inadvertent Training

If your dog stands over you, and you give it treats, toys, and more, you’re conditioning it to stand on you to have those things. Therefore, it’ll only keep engaging in that behavior for more treats, as you may have inadvertently reinforced that idea.

In this case, what your dog parent needs is consistent attitudes towards this unfavorable behavior. Communicate with any other person who interacts with the dog that they shouldn’t indulge the dog or encourage this behavior.

Not to mention, if you notice that your dominant dog is about to stand over you, redirecting its focus to something else helps.

This is achieved through positive reinforcement training. You train your dog to lay down so that it’d do so in a particular spot when you make a specific command. Then, you can make that command every time your dog is about to stand on you. If you want more information, click here.

Tip: Save any rewards, attention, or treats for when your pooch is well-behaved, so it has to be on all four pawns if it wants them.

  1. Communication

It isn’t exactly easy for your dog to communicate with you, so sometimes a dog will stand on your chest because it’s trying to get as close to your face as it can to say hello!

Tip: Train your dog or pack animals to sit when someone enters the house, and give it rewards for that.

Furthermore, your dog or puppy may want to communicate something, like a specific need, so it’ll stand on you because it’s time to give it exercise, feed it, or fulfill some other want. This is especially true if you’re eating and your dog shih tzu does that.

  1. Seeking Attention

Your dog likely stands on you because it’s looking for attention, especially when you haven’t been very attentive or if you do give it attention once it stands on you.

Tip: Don’t give your dog attention when it’s standing on you, even if it’s giving you those “puppy eyes, dog’s eyes or eye contact”. Instead, give it attention throughout the day, whether that’s playtime, dog training, exercise, or during some other activity.

  1. Seeking Safety

Take note of the situation surrounding your dog’s dominant behavior. If there are fireworks, sirens, or construction works, this could make your pooch feel unsafe; thus, it might resort to standing on you for safety.

  1. Protectiveness

If your strange dog engages in this behavior when other people or animals are around, your dog may be standing on you because it’s protective over you.

Why Dogs Lick Your Face

Girl and dog friendship

Whether dogs or people, you or another adult, domesticated dogs licking others’ faces is nothing to be worried about. This normal social behavior can be attributed to many reasons.

Dogs may lick your face as a sign of affection. They also may do it to appease you, making it a sign of social deference.

Even more, there’s a good chance that they may lick the faces of people they don’t know to appease them in an attempt to avoid strangers threatening or harming them.

Moreover, dogs lick their owners’ faces or whatever body part they find the closest (arms, shoulders, etc.) as part of grooming them the way they’d do it to other canines.

Another thing to keep in mind is that these dog’s behavior could entail that they’re trying to get you to feed them or give them some attention.

Last but not least, when dogs lick children’s faces, it could merely be because they have food on their faces, and the dogs are cleaning off the food.

Consult a Dog Behaviorist for Dog Training

Cynologist gesturing command to husky dog on obstacle

When in doubt, consult a dog behaviorist if you still don’t understand the root of your dog’s aggressive behavior at all, if it’s done aggressively, or if you can’t stop it.

After all, alpha dog behaviorists are qualified to direct you to the best-suited training course to solve your dog’s problem.

What Does It Mean When a Dog Puts Their Weight on You?

Co-founder of Breed Advisor, Lynda Taylor, affirms that dogs are naturally “social animals that crave physical contact.” Smaller dogs and puppies get to be carried in your lap and picked up, but bigger dogs can’t have that, so they try to get close to you by leaning on you and putting their weight on you.

Typically, one way to interpret this would be that it’s a sign of love and comfort. However, it can also stem from fear, where a velcro dog seeks safety with you. That fear can be caused by thunderstorms, fireworks, or any likewise loud noises.

And in some cases, dogs put their weight on their owners or pet owner because they suffer from separation anxiety issues.

It’d be helpful to check if your pup exhibits other signs of separation anxiety, including following you around and panicking when left alone.


Final Thoughts

We must debunk the outdated “dominance theory”, which relates dominance to aggression and relies on wolves to understand dog interactions. Only then can we as humans understand our dogs’ behaviors and wrap our head around them.

Ultimately, there isn’t at all a single answer to the question of “Why does my dog stand on me?” But what could guide you to the answer is the surrounding circumstances for this behavioral issue.

Noticing patterns, including loud noises, potential danger, and incoming guests can help you adequately deal with the problem and train your dog. Besides, you can always consult an expert, either a dog trainer, veterinarian or behaviorist.

We hope that you’ve found this article helpful. If so, go ahead and share it. And Of course, we’d love to hear from you, dog lovers, in the comments down below. Also, what’s your view on the dominance theory? And did you find any of our previously mentioned reasons behind the behavior of your puppy relevant?