The sight of one dog sitting on another dog will grab anyone’s attention and is likely to elicit a giggle or two, but why do dogs do this? Knowing why your dog does something helps you better understand its needs and health. Let’s learn more!
So, why do dogs sit on other dogs? They usually sit on one another for security, companionship, and warmth. They also sit on each other when playing. Finally, although less common, dogs sometimes sit on other dogs as a show of dominance or aggression.
In most cases, especially among dogs who live together and get along, there’s no reason to be concerned if one dog sits on the other. However, it’s still important to understand the specific reasons one is sitting on another, so you can ensure they’re both safe.
The Main Reasons Dogs Sit on Other Dogs
Let’s take a closer look at each type of behavior related to a dog sitting on another dog.
Security and Comfort
From the day they’re born, puppies sleep in a pile with their littermates. Sleeping together helps protect against cold temperatures, predators, and other potential hazards. Even when grown, many dogs continue to find this behavior comforting.
Aside from emotional security, sitting on another dog to sleep or rest helps keep both warm, which is why the practice is widespread among short-haired dog breeds.
Dogs also sit on other dogs during play. Many dogs exhibit an instinctual behavior to show closeness to the other dog. Other types of play include chasing, gentle biting, barking, and jumping.
Keep a close eye on any two dogs who play, especially during the first few sessions. Play behavior and aggressive behavior can seem similar. Signs of aggressive behavior include flat ears, staring, bared teeth, and hair standing up on the back of the neck.
Have you ever encouraged your dog to sit on your lap or chest? Many people do, and while there’s nothing necessarily wrong with the practice, it can create specific associations in your dog’s mind.
Your dog thinks that sitting on another pack member, even another dog, is a praiseworthy activity. They might sit on another dog and look to you for a reward.
Protect Themselves and the Other Dog
Dogs may sit back-to-back to protect themselves. In addition, sitting this way provides a broad view of their surroundings.
Sitting back-to-back is most common when the dogs are in unfamiliar surroundings, such as in a new home or outdoor location.
To Initiate Play
A dog will also sit on another to show its interest in playing. Dogs trying to initiate play are often bored and restless. If your dog attempts to initiate play frequently, watch for behaviors like chewing on furniture or unrolling the toilet paper; both are signs of a dog needing more activity.
Dog exercise needs vary by breed, but most healthy adult dogs need between 30 minutes and one hour of exercise daily.
A dog may sit on another dog to display dominance. In this case, sitting will accompany other dominant behaviors, such as intense staring and a high, stiff tail.
Dominant behavior isn’t necessarily a problem, as dogs find comfort in an established hierarchy. However, if one dog shows aggression to the other, you’ll likely need to separate them for a while to train the first one without disruption. Enlisting the help of a professional trainer is often the easiest route.
Check out this video explaining how to identify and stop aggressive behavior in dogs.
Is a Dog Sitting on Another Dog Harmful?
Generally, no. Most dogs find the behavior comforting and secure. However, there are a few instances where one dog sitting on another might indicate a problem.
First, make sure each dog is relatively similar in size. For instance, injuries can occur if a breed as large as a Great Dane attempts to sit on a Pomeranian.
Also, make sure you can identify the difference between dominant and aggressive behavior. For example, a dog sitting on another dog to establish a hierarchy usually isn’t a problem. However, you’ll need to intervene if one dog bites the other, prevents it from eating, or otherwise attempts to cause harm.
Can You Train a Dog to Sit on Another Dog?
Earlier, we mentioned how rewarding your dog for sitting on you could inadvertently encourage them to sit on other dogs. But you can purposefully train your dog to sit on another dog?
Yes. You can train your dog to sit on other dogs with positive reinforcement. We don’t recommend teaching this, however. Forcing a dog to sit on another dog can make both dogs uncomfortable and even lead to panic or aggression.
What Types of Dogs Sit on Other Dogs?
Dogs typically don’t sit on dogs they’ve just met. Instead, they need time to grow accustomed to each other.
When introducing a new dog into your household, don’t expect either one to show an interest in sitting on the other. To help the dogs become familiar with one another, try separating them with a gate, so they can see each other but not interact.
Why Does My Dog Sit on Me?
Does your dog sit on your lap, chest, or feet? They’re likely doing so for the same reasons they’ll sit on another dog. Your dog finds security and comfort when near you.
If your dog sits on you frequently, watch for signs that it is seeking comfort and not showing dominance. You don’t want your dog to think it is the pack leader. Peeing in the house, barking at you, and not following commands are signs that your dog may feel dominant over you.
If your dog sits on your other dog, there’s usually no cause for concern. It’s a natural way for dogs to feel safe and comfortable while also expressing affection. Make sure neither dog displays aggressive behaviors such as staring or prolonged growling.
One dog sitting on another is quite a sight to see! But, now that you know why dogs sit on each other and what warning signs to watch for, you and your dogs can stay safe and comfortable.