Why Does My Dog Stretch On Me? (13 Reasons and Solutions)

I couldn’t imagine my life without dogs. I was lucky enough to grow up with dogs and now, as an adult, I’m lucky enough to have more dogs in my life.  Though my dogs aren’t the stereotypical perfect family dogs like golden retrievers.  Instead, they have all been mutts adopted from friends or rescued from the local humane society.  But no matter their breed or where they came from, each one of my dogs enriched my life and brought me a lot of joy.

Unfortunately, dogs aren’t all fun and joy, sometimes they’re naughty, and other times just plain weird. Okay, Okay…I admit that the weirdness usually brings me joy because it makes me laugh. But there have been rare occasions, where one of my dogs acted so strange that it made me worry. For instance, we had one dog who was scared of flies; something I’d never heard of before!

Other times, your dog can act so strange you worry it’s a sign of a serious medical condition. And yet other times the odd behavior is endearing but strange enough that you feel the need to see what’s going on.

So, what about dogs stretching on their owners? Why does my dog stretch on me? The answer is dogs stretch on people for many different reasons and your dog is likely stretching on you for one of the following reasons:

  • It feels good
  • Your dog is marking his territory
  • Getting your attention
  • Excited
  • Love and affection
  • Trying to tell you something
  • Showing trust
  • It’s a habit
  • He learned it from other dogs
  • Asking for something
  • Saying thank you
  • Telling you hi
  • Trying to get you to play

Stretching On You Feels Good

One of the most obvious reasons your dog is stretching on you or even stretching in general is because it feels good. Just like people, dogs love a good stretch. It feels refreshing, relaxing, and rejuvenating for them.

Anyone who has spent time around dogs knows that they often have a big stretch after they wake up from a nap or first thing in the morning when they get up.

Most of my dogs won’t hesitate to pause walking and have a big stretch while going from one room to the next.  So, it’s no wonder dogs that happen to be near or on you for other reasons stretch on you too.

Stretching On You Marks Your Dog’s Territory

One of the reasons your dog might be stretching on you is that he’s trying to mark his territory. When your dog stretches on you, he’s rubbing his fur, feet, and maybe even his nose, and more all over you. This action allows him to put his scent onto you and claim you as their own.

Your Dog Stretches On You To Get Your Attention

Your dog could also be stretching on you because he’s trying to get your attention. Dogs are pretty dang smart and they know ways to make us pay more attention to us. Slightly brushing up against you or more forcefully stretching on you are excellent ways to get your attention.

So, if your dog wants you to pet him, give him a treat, or is just missing interacting with you, he might try stretching on you to get what he wants.


Another common reason dogs stretch on their owners is because they’re excited. If your dog is wagging his tail and panting while he’s stretching on you, it’s likely because he’s happy and excited to see you. This is especially common if you’ve been gone for a while* and your dog is excited to see you when you come home.

*Gone for a while in dog time is about 3 minutes.

Giving And Getting Love And Affection

One of the reasons humans and dogs became so close is that like us, dogs are social and they crave interaction, love, and affection. One of the ways they show their love and affection is by being as close as possible to you and then taking it one step further; by say stretching on you. This is one of their ways of saying “I love you” and getting close to you.

The cool part is if your dog knows your reaction is going to be a positive one, and you’ll return his stretch with some ear scratches or belly rubs, he’ll also stretch on you to get love and affection from you!

Trying To Tell You Something

Dogs are quite good at communicating with us. My dog, Duke, runs in and out of whatever room I happen to be in when he needs to go potty. He’s figured out that it will get my attention and then leads me to the back door so he can be let out.

Unfortunately for our good boys, sometimes they don’t know how to tell us something new and we don’t always understand what they’re trying to say. If your dog is stretching on you and doing other odd things you aren’t used to, he might be trying to tell you something.

For example, he could be trying to tell you that he wants to go for a walk or that he’s hungry.

It’s A Habit

Sometimes dogs stretch on their owners simply because it’s a habit. They might have started the behavior for some reason or another or at some point loved the way it feels.

If your dog is stretching on you all the time, it might just be something he does because … it is something he does.

He Learned It From Other Dogs

Dogs pick up on what other dogs in their ‘pack’ do and more importantly, what they get away with. Your dog might be stretching on you because he learned it from watching other dogs.

Dogs learn a lot from each other. If your dog sees his brother or sister stretching on you, he might think that’s what he’s supposed to do, or that it’s okay for him to do and pick up the behavior himself.

Asking For Something

Dogs can stretch on their owners because they’re asking for something. This could be for anything from food to attention to a toy.

Our dog Bella will sometimes start asking to be fed an early dinner. We don’t ever respond, because we like the schedule she’s on and so does our other dog. However, because we don’t respond, she keeps trying new ways to tell us she’s ready for dinner.

Whether it is running around the kitchen, sitting by the dog food and making noise, or being silly in some other way, she comes up with all sorts of ways to ask for an early dinner.

Saying Thank You

One of the most heartwarming reasons dogs stretch on their owners is because they’re saying thank you. If you’ve just done something your dog loves, like taking him for a walk or feeding him, he’ll want to show his appreciation and might do that with a good stretch up against you.

Telling You Hi

If your dog stretches on you when you first see each other, it’s likely because he’s trying to say ‘Hi’ or ‘I missed you’. This is a friendly gesture that shows your dog is happy to see you.

Trying To Get You To Play

A dog will also stretch on his owner because he’s trying to get his human to play. If your dog is wagging his tail and looking at you with his toy in his mouth, and then tries to butter you up with a sweet stretch across your legs, he’s probably trying to get you to play with him.

He Trusts You

When dogs stretch on their owners, it’s also a sign of trust. They’re showing you that they feel comfortable around you and that they trust you. When a dog stretches on you, even if the primary reason is one of the other reasons I’ve already covered, it also almost always means he trusts you.

Think about it, when you stretch you are in a pretty vulnerable position.  It’s the same for your dog.  You could (if you weren’t a great dog parent) tease your dog in some way that he would be absolutely defenseless against.

Trust is one major reason why it’s so important for dogs to have a good relationship with their owners.

Is It Okay To Let Your Dog Stretch On You?

If you don’t have a problem with it then, by all means, let your dog stretch on you!

But if you’re not a fan of being ‘stretch attacked’ by your pup, that’s okay too. Just be sure to set the boundaries so your dog knows what is and isn’t acceptable.

Some dogs will want to be as close as possible to you and stretching is just another way to do that. If that is the case with your dog and you don’t want him that close to you then take the time to make sure he understands that.

Being consistent will help train your dog and he’ll eventually learn that he’s not allowed to stretch on you.

How Do I Get My Dog To Stop Stretching On Me?

If you’ve decided you don’t want your dog to stretch on you then figuring out how to train him not to is probably one of your top priorities.  Why your dog is stretching on you is key but just as important is how a dog stretches on you. 

Both will affect the method you use to train your dog as well. You’ll likely have a different approach for a dog that jumps up and puts his front paws on your legs to stretch than a dog that lays across you while you’re in bed to stretch.

Use Basic Commands

If you’re reading this article you’re likely the type of dog owner who has taken the time to teach your dog basic obedience commands.  Luckily, your dog will also understand things like ‘no’ and ‘off’ in many circumstances.

While it may take a few tries, be consistent with your commands, and your dog will learn that ‘no’ also means ‘don’t stretch on me’.

Get Up Or Walk Away

This method is often used in combination with basic commands.  If your dog is stretching on you and you tell him ‘no’, and he doesn’t listen, then get up or walk away. 

Your dog won’t want to disappoint you.  If you consistently get up or walk away when your dog stretches on you he’ll quickly learn that it is something you don’t enjoy.

Be Patient

As always, I advise you to be patient when teaching your dog something new.  Like most behavioral changes, training your dog not to stretch on you is going to take some time and patience.  But if you’re consistent with your commands and actions, eventually your dog will get the message.

Summary: Why Does My Dog Stretch On Me?

Some common reasons a dog might stretch on their owner are out of habit, imitating other dogs, or trying to get something such as attention or an early dinner. Dogs may often stretch as a sign of trust and affection.

If you don’t want your dog to stretch on you, be consistent with your commands and actions to discourage the behavior. With patience and time, most dogs will eventually stop stretching on their owner.

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