Why Does My Golden Retriever Sit on Me? 7 Causes & Solutions


When you have a golden retriever, it is totally normal to have tons of questions because some of the little things that they do can tell you a lot about them such as why do they sit on your lap? Or why they are leaning on you?

Dogs can’t really talk, so understanding their body language and why they are doing all of these things is the only way to learn what is going on with them, such as why they sometimes just come out of the blue to sit on you.

So, Why does my golden retriever sit on me? Your Golden retriever could sit on you because they’re looking for attention, to assert their dominance, have separation anxiety, are just bored, you encouraged the behavior earlier, or you are sitting in their spot.

In all cases, you should take the time to stop them from doing this behavior or at least have it be controllable. A puppy sitting on you is cute, a 75-lb adult golden sitting on you may not be.

To learn why they sit on you in far more detail and how you can train them to stop, keep reading…

Why Does My Golden Retriever Sit on Me? 

Here are the possible reasons your golden retriever is sitting on you:

  • Boredom 
  • Dominance 
  • Separation anxiety 
  • Their spot 
  • Attention 
  • Encouraged this behavior
  • Spreading their scent 

Let’s discuss each of these causes below and see what could be done about each.

Boredom

If they are not exercising as much as they need, it will make them bored and they will start to behave in unusual ways, and it could be the reason why they are sitting on you.

You can know if this behavior is because they are bored by noticing if they do it at the same time you usually exercise or have your daily walk.

The solution is pretty obvious and simple, you will need to exercise together, walk, or train them to run with you at least an hour per day to keep them healthy and less bored. 

Dominance

It could be a way to assert their dominance, they used to do it in the wild to raise their elevation above any other dog, so it might be that they are trying to be dominant.

Sitting in you will mean to them that now they are higher than you.

The solution is to train them to sit in places that are lower than the places you sit in so they continue to see you as their leader.

Separation anxiety 

If your dog is suffering from separation anxiety then sitting on you can be one of the signs.

Dogs who suffer from separation anxiety do not like to be left alone so if they tend to sit on you whenever you are going out, besides being anxious when you are leaving them, then it is indeed separation anxiety.

Another symptoms of separation anxiety

  • Pacing
  • Barking and howling
  • Pooping or urinating when they are left alone
  • Destructive chewing
  • Destructive behaviour 
  • Escaping 
  • Coprophagia 

Here is some things you can do if your golden retriever is suffering from separation anxiety

  • Leave your dog with your cloth ( make sure that it smells like you )
  • Do not make big deal out of your arrival or when you leave
  • Use a word or action to let your dog know that you will be back everytime you leave them
  • Ignore them when you arrive home for the first few minutes then calmly pet them.

You can check out my complete guide on leaving your golden retriever alone here. I’ve discussed all the tips I’ve gained from my experience over the years of having to go to work and leave my pooch at home, so I do recommend you check it out as I think it can be very helpful for you.

Their spot 

If they only do it if you are sitting in a place they usually sit or sleep on then they might be doing it because they think that this place belongs to them even if you are sitting on it.

Train them to sit somewhere else if you are sitting in it, so when you are sitting in that place and they sit next to you or anywhere else, you should praise them and give them a treat. 

Attention

One of the most common reasons dogs can sit on you is simply attention-seeking.

Your dog may sit on you because they want to cuddle with you and they want your love and affection, or if you tend to give them extra attention when they do it so they think that the two are connected.

They will probably do it if you did not give them enough attention throughout the day.

You can train them by giving them attention all day long and reward them when they are not sitting on your lap. When they do come to sit on your lap, do not give them extra attention and try to make them sit in another place. 

Encouraged this behavior

It could be that every time they sit on you, you start playing with them, give them attention, or give them a treat, so now they think the only way to get your attention is by sitting on you. Or at least that it’s a surefire way that works every time.

Spreading their scent

They may sit on you or roll all over you as their way to spread their scent and to tell other dogs to back off because you belong to them.

You can tell if this is the reason why they are sitting on you if they roll over your chair, sofa, clothes, or anything that belongs to you and they will just top it off b rolling over you or sitting on you to leave their scent on you as well.

If this is the case, you are probably spending time with other dogs such as at work or while at a friend’s house, and you get some of the smell on you, and that’s why they’re acting like that; it’s jealousy.

The simple reason is to try and shower once you get home or limit contact with the other dog, and you should also train your dog to become less jealous.

Why does my golden retriever lean on me? 

Sometimes golden retrievers tend to lean on their owner because they are trying to feel and deepen that bond. 

Leaning on you could also mean they are feeling insecure or scared, or they are just trying to give you their attention and offering their affection and hoping to get it in return.

Why does my golden retriever sit on my lap? 

The reasons are very much the same as with sitting on you.

The only difference is that your dog probably finds it more comfortable or even more rewarding to sit on your lap instead of sitting on you personally, which is understandable as this way they can still look at you and have you pet them.

Here is a break down of why your golden retriever could be sitting on your lap:

Separation anxiety 

They could be sitting on your lap due to their separation anxiety, and if this is the reason why then they will do it when you are about to leave because they become more anxious about being left alone.

They are more likely to sit around you at that time and not just on your lap.

Looking for your attention

It could be they are sitting on your lap because you did not give them attention all day long, so they are looking for some, and they could be doing it because you tend to give them attention when they sit on your lap.

Spreading their scent all over you

If they find that sitting on your clothes, sofa, bed is not enough they will sit on you to spread their scent and to let other dogs know that you belong to them.

You encouraged the behavior

If you tend to give them extra attention or treats when they sit on your lap then they think that it is connected somehow, and you need to give them attention and treats throughout the day.

You are in their spot

It could be that you are sitting on their favourite spot on the sofa or the floor and they think that it belongs to them.

However, it could be a way to show their dominance if they tend to bark or howl when they are sitting on your lap at other dogs it is a sign that they are feeling the need to assert their dominance but for most dogs it is once in a while occurrence so do not worry about it. 

How to stop my golden retriever sitting on me? 

Before you learn how to stop it, you need to know why they are sitting on you first. Once you treat the issue at its roots, you can start training them to stop sitting on you.

Here is how to train your dog to stop sitting on you:

  • Teach them to sit somewhere else
  • Ignore them
  • Distract them
  • Do not encourage them to sit on you

Teach them to sit somewhere else

If you are sitting on their spot teach them to sit anywhere else and that this spot does not belong to them.

For example, if they like to sit in a specific spot on the sofa and you are sitting on it, teach them to sit on the floor in front of that spot or if they go and sit somewhere else when you are sitting there give them a treat and attention.

A combination of the simple “sit”, “stay” and “no” commands with some treats will be more than fine to teach them to sit somewhere else while you’re sitting in the usual spot.

Ignore them

The most common reason why they are sitting on you is that they are seeking attention.

The answer is simple: do not give it to them when they want it and just ignore them. If they are still young, just remove them from your lap, and if they are a bit older (and larger), simply stand up and walk away whenever they try and sit on you and ignore them for a while.

Distract them

You can always distract them, so when they sit on you, you can give them toys or things to play with next to you or on the floor in front of you, or just toss them a toy or a bone to go after it.

They are less likely to look for your attention  when they have something to play with or any distraction.

You can check my recommendations for toys for golden retrievers here.

Do not encourage them to sit on you

If you tend to give them treats, toys, or attention when they sit on your lap, then you can do the following:

  • Give them attention throughout the day
  • When they sit on your lap pull away the attention from them
  • Avoid eye contact
  • Remove them from your lap
  • Stand up and pretend to be leaving the room whenever they do it.

Related Questions 

Why Does my golden stare at me? 

When you and your golden retriever have eye contact a hormone called oxytocin increases it promotes social bonding so it might be the reason why they are staring at you because they have a habit. Also they could do it if they want something from you, for attention, or they just love you.

Should I look at my dog in the eyes?

Staring between humans and dogs release oxytocin (the love hormone) and it plays an important role in bonding and boosts feelings of love and trust and it is the same hormone that is released when a new mother looks at her baby, so if they want them to trust you an eye contact will be great.

Sources

Uncovering the origins of dog–human eye contact

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