We have all been there, haven’t we? You finally get totally comfy on the couch and then realize that you forgot something. You get up to go and get it, before returning to what was once your spot.
That’s right, it is now being occupied by your cherished (and quite smug at the moment), canine companion. As soon as we get up, whether it be from the couch or a bed, dogs have the uncanny ability to slyly steal our seat.
There could be endless space for them to plant their furry bottoms but they apparently feel the need to be in the exact spot that you left, just moments before. And this is a species-wide problem, as most dogs jump in your spot the instant you leave it. The question is, why does my dog sit in my spot, and can it be corrected if need be?
When your dog sits in your spot he is taking in the scent you left behind. Your unique scent brings him joy and comfort. Your dog also steals the spot because it is warm. With the combination of warmth and your smell, it makes a perfect spot for him to sit on.
Being the adorably complex (although sometimes somewhat difficult) creatures that they are, when it comes to dogs, there is, unfortunately, no truly simple answer.
Dogs are of a unique species with individualized personalities, that tend to vary from animal to animal. There can be many different reasons for this admittedly annoying behavior, with many of those reasons actually being quite sentimental, such as the simple fact that he pawsitively adores you.
However, there are times when these cute antics could end up turning into a point of concern. First, we will go over the most common reasons for this particular conduct, then we will discuss when, and if, it should be considered a problem, and exactly how to fix it if it becomes one.
Why Does My Dog Sit In My Spot?
05. Soaking Up Your Scent
As they say ‘the nose knows’. A dog’s sense of smell is an absolutely incredible thing and their snouts are almost supernaturally strong. In fact, rather than knowing you or others by your human names, canines recognize you more so by your personal scent.
As the leader of their ‘pack’, or their ‘alpha’, yours is the scent that they treasure (and recognize) the most. And, since your smell is left wherever you might have been, including that stolen spot on the couch, your spot is the best in the house. It is very likely that your dog is simply comforted by the essence of you all over that particular place.
While quite obviously a major factor, your scent is not the only thing drawing him to that much-desired and sought-after spot on the couch. It also happens to be super warm and cozy too, and, of course, this only adds to its desirability!
An animal’s natural instinct, dating all the way back to their ancestors in the wild, is, first and foremost, self-preservation. They will naturally seek the heat that you left behind. Besides, you provide their food, water, shelter, and comfort, so why can’t they have your place on the sofa too? Keep in mind, due to their lower body mass, smaller canine breeds are quite known for this and it can be combated by using a doggy sweater or vest.
Being the head of the household is quite an honorable position, especially in the eyes of your adoring pup. You are their whole universe and your spot is considered the throne, a much-coveted place.
After all, this is where your scent is concentrated the most, it is not unusual for him to be drawn to it. A dog has an innate pack mentality, and you are the leader of your four-legged furballs pack. When you leave your seat, wherever that seat might be, it is likely that your pooch considers it an honor (not to mention comforting due to it being saturated in your aroma) to swoop in and snuggle there, if even for just a brief moment.
This could also be his way of being your second, or your ‘wing-man’, by essentially taking command of the pack so long as he understands the order this should not become problematic.
02. Looking For Some Attention
Stealing your spot regularly could also very well be merely an attention-seeking behavior. As they say, any attention, even negative, is good attention, and this could not be more true when it comes to dogs. If your pampered pooch is feeling a bit lonely or neglected (or he may just like the attention), he knows that taking over your spot is likely going to cause a reaction and therefore an interaction between the two of you. He will be getting your attention, which is likely one of his main puppy goals in life (score!).
This is another instance that should be judged and dealt with on a case by case basis. If he is not showing aggression and you do not mind him doing it, this is not a behavior that necessarily needs to be repaired or changed. If you do choose to correct him, you should be firm but not angry or loud. Again, we never, ever want to cause fear in our pets. It can, and more than likely will, damage the relationship in the long run.
01. Testing Boundaries
Your precious pup could also be testing how far he can push you or what he can get away with. This is a situation that does require attention. Much like a human child, a dog needs clear rules and boundaries. If this gets out of hand it can lead to major behavioral issues and the longer it goes on the harder the habit will be to break. And, you do not have to be mean to set boundaries, but you do have to be persistent and stick with it.
The way that you handle this situation is going to determine the pecking order for years to come. Let him know who’s boss but also that the boss loves him.
Why They Growl At You When You Come Back
This is likely due to possessiveness. It is typically referred to as territorial aggression and should be taken care of promptly to avoid future conduct issues. Growling is essentially the warning before a possible attack so no matter the reason, this particular reaction needs to be nipped in the bud swiftly and firmly. Growling, snapping, or biting should never be permitted.
- Do not show fear or nervousness
- Be calm but firm, ‘Down’ or ‘No’
- Physically move him if needed
Let him know you mean business. Territorial aggression can get out of hand fairly quickly and should be stopped at the first sign of trouble. He should be put in doggy time out for no more than 15 minutes. Send him to his kennel or bed and show him absolutely no attention for the full 15 minutes. As hard as it is to see that sweet ball of fur sad, allowing any type of aggressive behavior can be detrimental to the dog as well as to the entire family.
Should The Behavior Be Allowed
Unless there is some form of aggression present, it really boils down to personal preference. If you choose not to allow the behavior, be sure that you properly train him to stay off of the furniture, and out of your spot. The last thing you want to do is cause your beloved buddy to learn to fear you by yelling at or hitting him. Positive reinforcement is the best course of action here and the only way to be successful. Make the rules and boundaries clear and it should not become an issue.
How To Get Them To Stop Stealing Your Spot
Luckily, canines happen to be quite intelligent (their brains, and the way they learn, are surprisingly similar to our own!) and tend to actually be pretty good at learning new things (it turns out that you can, in fact, teach an old dog new tricks). Whether there are aggression issues that need to be handled or you just prefer to not have the dog on the furniture, training, if done right, can be very effective.
- Use positive reinforcement.
- Make use of treats.
- Give him his own designated doggy area with his very own bed.
- Try not to get frustrated if he doesn’t seem to get it right away.
- Be consistent. Confusing him will only hinder the training process.
Helpful Tips For A Smooth Transition
- Offer him an alternative. Whether it be a special doggy bed, a dog house, or his own designated spot on the couch.
- Make it appealing. Place an old T-shirt or a favorite blanket, preferably with your scent, in his new bed.
- Offer him praise when he goes to ‘his spot’ without being told to.
- Have patience. It might take some time to get used to, especially if he has been allowed to share your spot before for any period of time.
- Be aware of the intention and react accordingly. If Fido is simply just keeping your spot warm for you, then drastic measures shouldn’t be taken. Keep things in perspective.
Ultimately, (and regardless of what some of the naysayers have to say) the one thing that your dog wants more than anything in the world is to make you, ‘his’ hooman, happy. It is incredibly easy to live in perfect balance and harmony with your favorite furry friend, you just have to take the time to really understand each other.
Dogs and their hoomans have been a ‘thing’ for thousands of years. They have been bred specifically to be the perfect companion. What this means is, that no matter your preference, Fido will be more than happy to oblige, you just have to know how to ask. And, don’t forget, you move your feet, you lose your seat! Geesh, even the kids know that! Have a fur-tastically paw-some day, life is too short to sweat the small things!