One of the cool things about being a dog owner is paying attention to all the quirky things your dog does throughout the day.
There is something very charming and fascinating about watching your dog do doggy things.
For example, does your dog sit behind you on your couch or chair?
Why do they do this?
Why Do Dogs Sit Behind You? (In-Brief)
Your dog sits behind you for several reasons that can include bonding, and warmth, in order to feel safe and secure, so they can protect you, out of habit, or due to them being anxious, sick, or in pain.
We will now look at all these possible reasons in much more detail to help you figure out why your dog goes behind you to sit down.
Why Do Dogs Go Behind You to Sit? (In-Depth)
- It’s nice and warm back there.
- They like being close to you.
- They want to protect you.
- They feel safe and secure sitting behind you.
- They are feeling grumpy.
- They are sick or injured.
- It’s just a random habit they picked up.
- They are bonding with you.
- There is nowhere else that is comfortable to sit.
- Your dog is anxious and is trying to hide.
- You accidentally trained them to sit behind you on the couch.
Now let’s look at each one of these reasons in more detail.
1. It’s Nice and Warm Back There
It could be that the reason your dog loves sitting behind you on the couch is that it’s warm and snug back there.
Most dogs love to be warm, so by sitting behind you on the couch, they benefit from all your body heat plus the lovely warm cushions.
Think of it like a nice warm den for them to hang out in.
2. They Like Being Close to You
Dogs are highly social animals. They love being part of a pack.
You, as their owner, are the most important part of their pack.
So, they could be sitting behind you like this because it’s an effective and comfy way of being close to you.
3. They Want to Protect You
Some, but not all, dogs have strong protective instincts toward their owners.
Therefore, they want to be as close as possible to you to protect you from any potential threats.
These instincts come from their wolf ancestors and from thousands of years of human breeding designed to encourage guarding instincts to protect life and property.
4. They Feel Safe and Secure Sitting Behind You
Most dogs like the feeling of being in a little den.
They like the feeling of being protected by the walls of the den.
They may also like the feeling of being alone in the den.
If your dog sits behind you, they might be doing so to get some quiet time.
They don’t want attention. They don’t want to play or to be petted. They just want to chill out quietly.
5. They Are Feeling Grumpy
Does your dog ever sulk or get in bad moods?
Sometimes when dogs feel grumpy with their owners, they will refuse to look at them.
Could this be the reason why they sit behind you on your coach?
Are they just sulking and sitting behind you so you can’t see them?
6. They Are Sick or Injured
When dogs are sick or in pain, they will often retreat to a safe space where they can rest and recover.
If you think this is the case. For example, if your dog is limping or showing signs of sickness, you should take them to the vet as soon as you can to make sure nothing serious is wrong with them.
But what if you are in financial difficulty and are worried about vet bills?
This website has lots of great resources for charities that can help you pay your bills.
7. It’s Just a Random Habit They Picked Up
Dogs, like humans, can randomly pick up habits and then repeat them for no other reason than they have become habituated.
It might be that without realizing it, you have encouraged this habit.
For example, your dog might have crawled behind you on the couch one day.
You let them stay there, then reached around and petted them.
The dog could then have associated sitting behind you with getting your attention, and so it repeats this behavior, hoping to get more of your attention.
8. They Are Bonding with You
Dogs evolved from a now-extinct species of wolf called the Late Pleistocene wolf.
For their ancestors to survive, pack bonding would have been essential.
Your dog still has a strong drive to bond with other members of the pack, including humans.
9. There is Nowhere Else that is Comfortable to Sit
Your dog could be sitting behind you because there is nowhere else that it wants to sit.
It has decided that this is the most comfortable place to sit, and that’s that.
10. Your Dog is Anxious and is Trying to Hide
If your dog is scared or suffering from anxiety, they might try to hide behind you to soothe themself.
It should be relatively easy to spot it if this is the case.
For example, if your dog seems uptight and anxious, then this is why they are sitting behind you.
If you think this is what’s going on with your dog, you should do your best to find and fix the cause of their anxiety.
This video is an excellent first step, just click the image, and it will start to play:
11. You Accidentally Trained Them to Sit Behind You On the Couch
While this might sound surprising, it is easy to train your dog into a behavior pattern accidentally (this is often referred to as learned behavior).
For example, let’s say your dog randomly sat behind you on the couch one day, and without thinking, you smiled and stroked them.
The dog felt good because you reacted warmly and gave them some attention.
They repeated the behavior, and you gave them a nice cuddle this time.
They have learned that if they sit behind you, you may be nice to them.
So whenever they want some attention and affection from you, they sit behind you on the couch and see if it works.
You could, of course, look at this the other way around.
That your dog has trained you to pet them when they sit like this behind you, on the couch.
Perhaps our dogs are a lot smarter than we realize.
Should You Be Worried About Your Dog Sitting Behind You?
In most cases, there is nothing to worry about, and all you need to do is make sure you don’t squash your dog by sitting back when they are behind you on the couch or chair.
However, if your dog is sick or in pain, you should take them to the vet, and if they are anxious, you should either fix the anxiety or get help from a canine behaviorist.
How to Stop Your Dog from Sitting Behind You
Assuming that you have excluded the possibility that your dog is sitting behind you because they are sick, injured, or anxious, then if you want to stop this, behavior training can help.
First, you should find or create an alternative place for them to sit or lie down, a comfy bed or a little den area.
Then every time they sit behind you on the sofa, move them over to the new area, get them to sit or lie down, and give them a treat and lots of praise.
If you repeat this consistently every time they go behind you, they will get the message, and the new habit will be created and reinforced.
Why Does My Dog Sit Behind Me On the Couch?
Some Final Notes
Your dog sits behind you on a couch or chair because they want to feel close to you.
They either like the feeling of being snuggled up behind you, or possibly it’s because they are anxious, ill, or in pain.
If you think they are injured, sick or anxious, you need to address the issue; otherwise, there is nothing for you to worry about as long as they aren’t at risk of being squashed.
NOTE – You might enjoy reading this post looking at why dogs rub up against you like a cat.
Tim is a proud, vetted, and experienced dog foster carer for a charity helping dog owners escape domestic abuse.
He has years of experience training and caring for dogs, both his own and other people’s.
He is an expert in canine behavior and is highly skilled in dealing with all dogs but specializes in the difficult ones that other people may struggle with.
When he isn’t fostering dogs, he is making friends with other people’s pups!