If you’re like me, you love dogs. You’ve always loved dogs. And that unconditional love you share with dogs has been a part of your life for as long as you can remember. They’ve been there to provide you with comfort, and kindness, and you couldn’t imagine your life without them.
There’s just something special about dogs that draws people to them. Maybe it’s their unwavering loyalty or their adorable faces, but dogs have a way of making everyone feel welcome. You never feel alone when you’re around a dog, and that’s one of many reasons that I love them so much.
But even with all that loving sweetness, dogs do some pretty weird and even gross things…it can be hard to figure out what the heck they are up to.
If you’ve ever wondered why your dog seems obsessed with your legs or only wants to follow one member of the family around…or any other strange behavior, for that matter!…you’re not alone. I’m here to help you decode your dog’s behavior so that you can better understand what he’s trying to tell you.
So, what about when your dog sits behind you? Why does my dog sit behind me? Turns out, there may be various reasons for this behavior. I’ll briefly cover these reasons here and go into more detail later.
One of the most common is that your pup simply wants to be close to you, as he loves and trusts you with all his heart. Another possible reason is because some dogs want to protect you or feel protected by you. And of course, some good boys are trying for both at once!
Sometimes he’s just offering his submission and showing that he isn’t looking for trouble. Other reasons that could cause your dog to sit behind you are your dog might be ill or suffer from separation anxiety. Don’t forget that being close to you likely makes him feel safer too.
In many cases, the reason is simply that this area behind where you often hang out has become ‘his’ or you accidentally trained him to sit behind you!
He might also be seeking comfort in an area where it’s warm and softer than anywhere else in the room. Finally, being situated right behind you might be his way of gently saying ‘I love and adore you!’.
What Are The Reasons Dogs Sit Behind Their Owners?
I just gave a very quick rundown of all the likely reasons your dog is probably sitting behind you, for more details about each, keep reading.
If you’re more interested in how to stop the behavior, feel free to skip to that section below.
Staying Close to You
Dogs love spending time with and being near their families. And one of the best ways for your pooch to spend time with you is by sticking close to his owner as possible. For many dogs, sitting behind their humans is a great way they can do this.
That spot allows them to be near while still giving them enough space for both of you. Plus, as you’re about to see, when they’re in that position, they can keep an eye on anything that might come up from behind them as well.
Guarding Your Vulnerable Side
Another reason why your pup might prefer sitting behind you is that he wants to protect your most vulnerable side – your back. Sitting behind you will allow your good boy to keep a watchful, if sleepy, eye where you can’t. Of course, this can go both ways too.
Feeling Protected By You
Maybe you have visitors over with wild kids, or you brought a new pet into your home, or your crazy neighbors are setting off fireworks; many things can make your big scary dog quake with fear.
And while your dog might not be physically shaking from his fear, he could be seeking comfort and protection. Sitting behind you can help him feel safe as if nothing can reach him without going through you first!
Submission & Respect
Sometimes a pup’s behavior of sitting behind you is simply to show that they accept your leadership over them. It might also be an act of submissive respect, in the sense of “I respect you and I’m here for you!”.
Sick Or Injured
Dogs can’t tell us when something is seriously going wrong with their health. In fact, oftentimes, dogs will even try to hide it from you. However, if your dog doesn’t normally sit behind you but has suddenly started doing so, it could be an indication that your pup is in pain, or feeling sick.
Behind You Is His Spot
There’s also a good chance that behind where you normally are, whether that’s your office chair or lounged out in the living room watching T.V., has just become a comfortable spot for your pup and it might not have anything to do with you.
When he finds it to be a comfortable place, he’s going to keep coming back to it!
Sure, as I discussed, your dog might look for protection by sitting behind you, but he might just find it to be a safe spot in general. The spot behind you could be where he feels safest in the house, away from loud noises and whatever else might startle him.
If you’re reading this article, I’m going to assume you didn’t train your good boy to sit behind you on purpose, but that doesn’t mean you didn’t train him to sit behind you! If you give your dog a treat when he’s behind you, pet him more often when he’s in that spot, or in any other way reward him then your pup is going to assume that you want him there and that it’s a spot he should come back to.
It’s the same idea with teaching your pup to sit or stay – when they realize that if they do a certain behavior, something good happens they’ll repeat the behavior.
It’s Comfy Back There
Soft and warm or maybe cushy and cool. It could be that the area behind where you normally hang out is just the most comfortable spot in the house for your furry friend. If it is, then that spot will become his go-to anytime he’s looking for a place to sit and relax.
Your pet might also choose to sit behind you if they are experiencing separation anxiety. This can occur when their favorite person (you!) isn’t around and they don’t want to lose sight of them. Dogs with separation anxiety may also bark, whine, and even pace when they’re not with their owner.
Maybe your dog isn’t feeling scared, anxious, or trying to protect you from anything. Maybe he’s just being affectionate and wants to be close enough to you to show it. Dogs often show their love for their owners by sitting next to them or leaning against them.
Some dogs will even choose the spot behind their owner to stay close but out of the way.
Is It Okay For Your Dog To Sit Behind You?
Having your good boy nestled behind you can be a pleasant sight and can signify he is feeling secure in his environment. Before you welcome him to sit back there, figure out why he doing it – is it because he’s unwell or hurt? Or does he have separation anxiety from being away from you? If so, address the issue to ensure your pet is happy and healthy first.
If your pup is merely seeking affection by plopping himself down for some cuddles, then that’s okay…
Of course, it has to be okay with you too. If it isn’t, I have you covered there too. Keep reading to learn the best ways to get your buddy to sit somewhere more acceptable.
How to Discourage Your Dog From Sitting Behind You
Okay so, he may be cute, but maybe there’s something that you don’t enjoy about your best friend sitting behind you.
Find Out Why
Before you tackle the issue of discouraging your pup from sitting behind you, it’s important to figure out why they’re doing it in the first place.
Is it because he’s anxious or scared? Is it more comfortable back there? Are there loud children running around that might be scaring him? Taking the time to investigate why your pup is sitting behind you will help determine how best to address the issue.
Once you have identified why your dog is behaving this way, then it’s time to start working on the solution.
Give Your Dog A Spot
One important thing for dogs is to have their ‘spot’. This could be anywhere in the home – a corner near the window, on top of a bed or couch (if you’re okay with it), or next to your bed.
Wherever your pup feels safe and comfortable will make an excellent designated spot in the house.
Encourage him to sit there by providing positive reinforcement – treats and verbal praise when they sit down and stay still in their spot! Then couple it with a command like ‘go to spot‘.
My in-laws do this with their dog. They have 2 dog beds in the common areas of their house that they ask her to go to when needed. It works wonders, each bed is carefully placed to be in a spot where their pooch feels safe, but can still witness the action going on to not be left out. And of course, the beds are extra comfy because they spoil the heck out of her.
Don’t just give your sweet dog positive reinforcement when he goes to his spot. Also, pay attention to times when he would normally sit behind you but doesn’t.
When that happens, make sure to give positive reinforcement such as treats or verbal praise so he knows that not sitting there yields rewards! Not only will this reward good behavior but also help condition him out of this particular habit over time.
Don’t worry if there are no treats readily available, simply petting him and talking sweetly is enough to make him feel rewarded.
When your dog does start making moves towards sitting right behind you, don’t let them get comfortable! Immediately say “no” in a firm voice and redirect their attention elsewhere. By doing this every time they begin moving towards the spot right behind you, eventually, he will begin associating that space as off-limits and should stop trying altogether!
Remember to not punish! You’ll get a lot farther by kindly communicating (positive reinforcement) what you want than when you try to physically harm or force your will on your dog.
Summary: Why Do Dogs Sit Behind People?
Have you ever wondered why your dog places himself directly behind you no matter where you are? Or maybe it’s just when you’re in the recliner watching T.V. or only while you’re sitting at your desk in the home office.
It turns out, there may be various reasons for this behavior. Luckily with a little work, you’ll be able to determine which one (or combo) of these reasons is why your dog sits behind you:
- Getting close to you
- Protecting you
- Wanting your protection
- Showing submission
- Hurt or ill
- It’s your dog’s spot
- It’s where he can be safely out of the way
- You taught him to sit back there
- It’s nice and comfy
- He has separation anxiety
- He’s being affectionate
All in all, there are several reasons why your pooch could be sitting behind you – from feeling safe and secure to staying connected with his beloved human.
Whether it’s protection against visitors or strangers or simply wanting some alone time with his favorite person – make sure your pup knows he’s loved.
From there you can let him be or you can train him to sit somewhere else. Ultimately your dog needs to feel safe, loved, and comfortable around his people.
After all – isn’t that what unconditional love is all about?