Have you ever gotten up from your comfy spot on the couch to get something to drink, just to come back and realize that your furry pal has taken up your spot?
This happens to many dog owners all over the world. When your pup is allowed to get on the furniture, they’re likely to get up and take their owner’s spots when the opportunity arises. You may assume there’s some sort of reason for it. But, do you know what that reason is?
You are your dog’s best friend. You are a valuable resource and a source of comfort for your furry pal. Because of that, your dog is naturally attracted to you and your scent. By taking up your spot as soon as you move, the dog is communicating something– but that message is likely to get lost in translation.
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Your Spot is Warm
The simplest explanation for why your dog may be taking up your spot is that it’s warm. After you’ve been sitting somewhere for a while, it’s going to get warm and toasty.
Dogs enjoy warmth, so when you get up, your furry friend wants to get in there and suck up some of that warmth for itself. The dog probably wants to enjoy a bit of time with the heat you created. Why let all of that heat go to waste?
Your Dog is Curious about Your Spot
Your dog may also wonder what’s so good about your spot. Think about children for a moment– when they get the chance to, they will sneak into their parents’ shoes.
They don’t mean any harm by it, but they really want to see what it’s like. If you have repeatedly scooted your dog out of your spot in the past, he may be wondering what’s so good about that spot.
So, when he gets the opportunity to, he slips into your spot to see why you want that spot so much in the first place. Sitting in your spot gives your dog the chance to see why you like it.
Your Dog Likes the Attention or Reward
If you’ve tried bribing your dog to get out of your spot in the past, or if you’ve showered your dog in any sort of attention when your spot has been taken, your dog could be doing it for the attention.
Dogs love attention from you – it is one of their most prized and valuable resources. If you give attention when your dog is in your spot, such as saying, “Oh, Rover! You took my spot!!” or “Rover! Look at you, you little rascal!!” you could be teaching him that stealing your spot is rewarding.
This is especially the case if you’ve paired those exclamations with a smile and a pat. Your dog doesn’t understand everything you are saying, but he does understand the body language and the rewarding pets that he gets. The more that you reward your dog with attention or with treats to try to bribe him out of your space, the more you actually reinforce that behavior as positive.
Your Dog Suffers from Separation Anxiety
Separation anxiety can be a major problem for dogs. If your dog never learned how to separate away from you as a puppy, then as an adult, he or she will struggle more.
Separating from you can cause anxiety because your pup won’t know how to handle himself or herself. When this happens, your pup could get aggressive, destructive, loud, and otherwise disturbing for everyone in the house. And, your dog is likely to seek you out any way possible.
By sliding into your spot, your dog gets to smell your scent, which works as a sort of security blanket. This is the same principle behind why untrained dogs tend to seek out socks and underwear of their favorite owners rather than other clothes.
If separation anxiety is the source of the issue, you have a much larger problem than you may initially think. This is something that you will need to work hard to eliminate, allowing your dog to feel more confident and comfortable so they do not feel the need to make you a sort of security blanket.
Your Dog is Spreading its Scent
Another theory behind why your dog may try to sit in your spot when you leave is that it wants to spread its scent. You see this behavior all the time with your dog.
Does your dog rub his face on you when you walk by? This is his attempt to mark you with his scent in a way that isn’t a matter of claiming ownership. While most people think of urinating as the way that dogs mark with their scent, they also rub their scents on those they accept and love as well.
When they rub together with family members, they put their own scent on others, making them smell more familiar. It is an act of acceptance and love rather than an attempt to own you. They leave this mark, showing other dogs that you and that dog are connected by scent.
Your Dog is Claiming Dominance
Finally, your dog may be marking that he or she believes that they are higher up on the totem pole than you are. This shows that they get the top or best spot.
They claim that best position to show that they are the ones who get the best resources first. This is especially notable if you see that your dog gets protective over the spot that it is in, snarling or even snapping at you if you try to move them when you return.
However, this is incredibly problematic and you may encourage it more if you’re not careful. If you’ve chosen to just move over, you tell your dog you accept their dominance rather than taking the spot back. This requires careful training to establish that your control through positive reinforcement, redirection, and consistency to teach your dog that you are the boss.