I’ve spent a odd amount of my life wondering: why does my dog sit on me? I’ve learned that dogs will choose one person in the family to spend most of their time with. And, that includes sitting on them. Their loyalty is strong, so your Shepherd might become your new shadow by your side.
The average Australian Shepherd weighs between 55 and 70 pounds when grown. (mentioned in our post “How big do Australian Shepherds Get?”)
This is definitely not a lightweight breed we’re talking about here. Yet yours is always doing his best to sit on you, be that in your lap or your foot. Why do dogs do that?
In today’s article we deal with why your Aussie wants to be attached at your hip. We will cover a bunch of possible reasons for this behavior. If you’re looking to get a little bit of breathing room — we’ll tell you how to do that as well. Keep reading, as you won’t want to miss it (as long as mine to come in and start sitting on me).
Leader of the Pack
Other dogs are family canines, treating all humans with the same love and affection. The Australian Shepherd is not one of them. They, like some other animals, have their chosen one — which is probably you if your dog sits on your feet all the time.
You’ve Been Chosen
When the Australian Shepherd chooses their human-buddy, they begin to exhibit loyalty towards you, even to an extreme degree. In fact, given that some Shepherds don’t appreciate being alone, you may find your dog wants to spend all their time with you.
X marks the spot
When they were a puppy and didn’t weigh much, you didn’t mind when your Australian Shepherd hopped in your lap or curled up for a nap on the floor right on your feet. Now that they’re upwards of 50 pounds (the average for an Aussie adult female) or even 70 pounds (a standard adult male weight)— not exactly lap dogs.
If your Shepherd sits on your feet as an adult? Within a few minutes, you’ve got pins and needles in your feet. Ever had a large dog hop in your lap? It’s almost like the wind gets knocked out of you. Even once you catch your breath, you’re held captive on the couch until you get can get your Aussie to budge off your lap. Large dogs sometimes want to be lap dogs. Yikes!
They Love You
Remember though, these animals are doing this as a way of saying they love you. The close-knit bond the two of you have means the world to your Shepherd. They just want to be near their favorite human, even if that sometimes means being on top of you, quite literally. The fact is, anxiety from being apart is real and they get real attached to their dog owners. This is a big enough deal I had of mine who is a vet that specializes in the Australian Shepherd breed write us an entire article about it for this site. If you’d like to check it out, click here -> What To Do If My Australian Shepherd Has Separation Anxiety
Do All Dogs Exhibit the Same Behavior?
That said, no two dogs behavior are alike. The problem with generalizing a breed or even an animal is that they don’t always live up to those expectations. For example, cats are generally painted as aloof, but some can be as loving and affectionate as a dog. Animals are as different as you and me.
Some dogs run in packs. Australian Shepherds are known for their fierce loyalty with one person, that doesn’t mean every Shepherd will act like that. Some Shepherds might not build a particularly strong bond with any one family member. Others might like one of you more than another, but they don’t sit on you to show it. My dog, he sure does – it’s how he shows affection. But again just like people, no two dogs are the same.
This comes down to the different personalities dogs have. It doesn’t necessarily mean they love you less, just that they don’t mind giving you more room. If the dog’s loyalty ever came into question, you could feel confident that your Shepherd would defend you and your family. They’re just not as in-your-face (or your lap, in this case) about it.
The reasons these animals decide to sit on their owner can be many…some are trying to get attention from their owner, others do it because they want something from their owner. I’m pretty sure mine do it just because they like to be close to people. Real close.
How to Introduce Some Space Between Yourself and Your Aussie
You love your pooch more than anything in this world. That said, people sometimes wish they could get a breather from them when you’re at home. You’d love to wear a dark-colored outfit without it being coated in dog hair because your Shepherd refuses to sit anywhere but on or around you. (it’s a nightmare having any breed that sheds a ton)
Can you introduce some room between you and your dog without destroying the bond you two have? Absolutely! Here are some tips for doing just that.
Have Plenty of Beds
If there’s a dog bed in sight, then your pup might feel more inclined to relax there than in your lap. (Pet beds are irresistible to my dogs) You have to keep the dog bed in sight, though. That means adding one too many rooms of the house, such as the living room, your entertainment room or den, even the bedroom or your home office if your pooch tries to sit on you in there. If you need a pet bed for your dog, my oldest LOVES this one from Amazon -> Super Soft Extra Large Dog Bed
Get Them Their Own Room
Given that your Aussie is considered a bigger breed, chances are you probably own a home instead of an apartment. If so, then you may be able to spare a room that can become your dog’s own area. Your best furry friend doesn’t necessarily have to be a huge room, but it should be open and cozy enough that your Australian Shepherd feels inclined to hang out there.
Once you’ve chosen your dog’s spot to plop down, then decorate it with all the things your pooch loves most, such as a pet bed and a few of their favorite toys. You could even spare a t-shirt or something else that’s cozy and has your scent on it. This way, your dog might miss you a little bit less.
Australian Shepherds and the Value of No
It’s hard for you to decline your Australian Shepherd of anything, whether that’s going a block longer on your walks or giving them just a handful of treats. As much as it may hurt to do so, you have to get good at saying no to your dog.
When your Shepherd comes into the room to jump on you or plop down on you, tell them no. Keep your voice firm so you sound strict. You’re not yelling at your Shepherd, but rather, you’re telling them to stop what they’re doing.
If you’re having issues with your gentle giants jumping, I wrote an article on 4 ways to get your aussie to stop jumping on you (possible reason number 3 isn’t AT ALL what you’d expect!) Check it out
Show Your Dog Where to Go
Unfortunately, verbal commands alone might not be enough for your dog. It will all depend on their personality, how long they’ve been attached to you, and how well-trained they are. If you say “no” but your Australian Shepherd keeps right on doing what he or she intended, then you’ll have to physically stop them.
Get up, put your hand around your dog’s collar, and walk them a room or two away. You may want to close the door of the room you’re in so your Shepherd doesn’t run right back in. If that’s the route you go, then only keep the door closed for a short bit — Then open it back up.
Your Australian Shepherd might be waiting right outside the door for you. They also might have stayed in the other room, but upon hearing the door click when you opened it, they come bolting right in.
It will often take repeatedly showing your Shepherd where you want them to go for them to learn that they shouldn’t be where you are every waking second.
Build-in One-on-One Moments Together
If your Australian Shepherd bonds closely (even obsessively) and you go from spending every waking moment together to significantly less, they could feel starved of attention. This could cause their behavior of being your shadow to ramp up, probably to an even worse degree than before.
You may insist on having some away-time from your dog, and that’s alright, even healthy. However, you have to make sure you’re not eschewing all closeness with your canine companion. Every day, you should have some togetherness. For some dog owners, they may only be able to spare 10 minutes. Your Shepherd might demand 30 minutes out of you, or even an hour. (mine used to whine like crazy if I didn’t give them at least an hour a day, so I figured out how to stop that and wrote an article about how to get your aussie to stop whining)
During these moments, you’re focusing on your dog above all else. Maybe you two play, go on a walk, or just chill together (yes, with your Shepherd on your feet or in your lap). This time together is special and shows your dog that even though you two can have some time apart — your bond doesn’t have to change.
Exercise Your Dogs Energy
While Australian Shepherds are likely so close to you as a sign of love, could they also be telling you in a not-so-subtle way that they’d like to go outside and get some exercise? As I’m sure you’re aware, they have a TON of energy. Basically like bottled up energy bombs.
Even if that’s not the case, when your dog is exercised, they won’t have the energy to follow you around the house. They’ll pass out in their dog bed, giving you a few, guilt-free hours of chillout-mode.
Aussies and other energetic breeds need an outlet for all that energy, don’t let the outlet be through driving you crazy. But, if they’ve been sitting around all day, owners can expect a problem if they don’t find an energy outlet for the animal.
A quick way to curb bad behavior is making them spend some quality time around other dogs. There’s been times I let mine run with the neighbor pack, which are different breeds, a day or two a week can really drain their energy and gives them a ton of exercise.
You can use a combination of verbal and non-verbal commands for this. For instance, the next time you’re sitting on the couch and your Australian Shepherd comes near, you can make a stop motion with your hands. Put your hand palm out at your dog, but not in a threatening way.
If you’re standing, you might even take a few steps between you and your Shepherd. This alone may be enough to tell your dog you need to be alone. If not, then combine the motions with a verbal command, such as saying “stop” or “no.”
Like with any kind of training, you want to praise your Australian Shepherd when they do well. You can give them a treat or even a few head pats. By repeating this training followed by a reward, it will reinforce to your dog that sometimes they shouldn’t come close.
I also highly recommend “training treats.” I like them because they are smaller than normal treats so I don’t feel so bad giving them more while I train. My dogs go NUTSO over these All Natural Healthy Dogs Treats from Amazon, and they are all natural, which is important to me. If you’re training, try these out. -> All Natural Healthy Dogs Treats
Remember Not to Punish
While a firm tone of voice is needed to tell your dog you mean business, you want to avoid yelling at your Australian Shepherd. They may not listen to your commands, and it could take repeated training to reinforce what the dog should or shouldn’t do, as we’ve mentioned. Although it can get frustrating, screaming and hollering at your pooch won’t achieve your goals. The yelling could make your dog misbehave worse or even have an accident. Also, with enough shouting, you could make your Shepherd afraid of you, diminishing the bond you two have.
Hopefully this helps you understand the mystifying question “why does my dog sit on me.” If your Australian Shepherd likes to plop down on you, you should be flattered. This is a sign they love you and are loyal to you. They found their spot. That said, if you need some space to get away, there are plenty of ways to teach your dog to hang back. Best of luck!