Why does my dog lean on me?

If your dog has been leaning on you a lot you might be wondering why and what you can do about it.

This post will show you a number of reasons why it might be doing it and what you can do to get it to stop.

So, why does my dog lean on me? Possible reasons why your dog leans on you are that it is being protective, dominant, it is looking for attention, it makes it feel safer or it might have separation anxiety.

There are a number of reasons why your dog might be doing it and it could be due to a combination of them. However, there are some things you can consider that will help you in figuring out the exact reason.

Why your dog leans on you

Each of the different reasons why your dog leans on you will likely come with some clues. Below are a number of possible causes and what would make them more likely.

It is being protective

The reason why your dog leans on you could be that it is being protective. This would be more likely if it tends to do it more when there are other people or animals around and if it can get overly protective around them.

Dominance

One way that dogs would assert their dominance over each other in the wild would be to mount other dogs in the pack. If your dog is trying to assert its dominance over you then it might be doing this by leaning on you and positioning itself to be in higher positions than you.

In this case, it would help to give it lots of training so that it learns how to behave and so that it sees you as the leader.

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Security

The reason why it does it might be that it makes it feel safer. Dogs are pack animals and they evolved to spend most of their time around the other dogs and people in the pack so it is natural that being near you will make it feel more secure.

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Separation anxiety

The cause might be that it has separation anxiety. This is where it does not like being left alone and being left alone causes it to become anxious. This would be more likely if your dog does it more when you would normally leave home and if it tends to become anxious when you are leaving home.

In this case, it would help to try to reduce how anxious it becomes when you are leaving home.

To do this you could do as follows:

  • Make it seem like you are about to leave by doing something such as picking up your keys
  • Reward your dog for not being anxious and repeat these two steps a few times
  • Make more moves towards actually leaving such as by picking up the keys and putting your hand on the door handle
  • Reward your dog for not being anxious and repeat the process a few times
  • Actually open the door and go outside for a few moments then come back and reward your dog
  • Repeat the above, each time staying outside for slightly longer

It wants attention

The reason why your dog does it might be because it is looking for attention. This would be more likely if it does it more when you have not been giving it much attention and if you tend to give it more attention when it does it.

If you want to get it to stop, it would help to give it attention throughout the day but to avoid rewarding it with attention when it leans on you. To do this you would get it to stop leaning on you, wait for it to calm down and then to give it attention and to repeat the process if it starts leaning on you again.

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To spread its scent

The reason why it does it might be to spread its scent onto you so that other animals smell it and are less likely to approach you.

Injury

The reason why your dog has been leaning on you might also be that it has gotten an injury. It could be the case that it has been feeling weak due to an injury and it has been leaning on you to support itself. This would be more likely if it has started doing it suddenly and it has been showing other signs of having an injury. In this case the best option would be to take it to a vet.

Things to consider

Below are some things you can consider when trying to figure out why your dog leans on you.

When your dog started leaning on you

It would help to consider when your dog first started leaning on you since it might be the case that there was an event that caused it to start doing it.

Some things to consider would be:

  • If you moved home
  • If someone else moved away
  • If its schedule changed
  • If you started working different hours

When and where your dog leans on you

It would also help to consider the timing of when it leans on you since the timing could also have something to do with it.

For example, if it tends to lean on you more when you would normally leave home then this would be a sign that it might have some separation anxiety.

How to get your dog to stop leaning on you

Below are some options you have when getting your dog to stop leaning on you.

Ignore it

Since your dog might be doing it for attention, one option would be to avoid rewarding it with attention when it does it. One way to do this would be to get it to stop leaning on you, wait for it to calm down and then to give it attention and to repeat the process if it does it again. Doing this should help to teach it that leaning on you doesn’t get it rewards.

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It would also help to try and recognize when it is likely to start doing it and to redirect its focus onto standing or sitting somewhere else by training it to do so with positive reinforcement training.

Train it not to

You can also train your dog not to lean on you by training it to sit or lay somewhere else. You can do this by teaching it to sit or to lay down somewhere and then by gradually teaching it to stay there over longer and longer time periods.

You can do this by applying the same techniques as in the video below:

Avoid negative reinforcement training

As mentioned above, it could be the case that you have been reinforcing the behavior by giving it things that it wants when it does it.

Instead, it would help to give it things it wants when it is well behaved and to follow the tips above to get it to stop doing it.

Give it attention

In addition to the above, it would help to give it attention throughout the day by exercising it, training it and playing with it so that it is less likely to seek attention from you.

Why does my dog lean on me in bed?

If your dog leans on you in bed, the cause could be that it is being affectionate, leaning on you makes it feel safer or that it has learned that it is rewarded for doing it.

Why does my dog lean on me to sleep?

Your dog likely leans on you to sleep because it makes your dog feel safer and because of some separation anxiety.

Why does my dog lean on me when I pet it?

Your dog likely leans on you when you pet it in order to help support its weight. If your dog does it while lying down, the cause would be more likely to be that it wants you to rub its belly.