Why Do Dogs Lean on You?

By helloBARK!
Updated on 29 March 2021

You’ll often hear that dogs lean on you to show dominance.

However, this argument that your pup is leaning on you to exert their dominance and invade your space has been debunked by some experts.

You may think your four-legged friend is leaning on you to create a connection and show their love for you.

Alternatively, you may be concerned that a sudden increase of leaning on you could indicate a medical problem.

If you have any concerns, you should contact your vet immediately to seek professional help.

In this article, we’ll hear from four experts will tackle the question: why do dogs lean on you?

Wants To Show Affection

Diana Ludwiczak, Owner Of “How I Got Into Veterinary School”

There was popular myth going around many years ago that said if a dog is leaning on a person they are trying to show dominance. This myth has been debunked. A dog leaning a on person just wants to show affection and likes to be close. Some dogs do not lean or cuddle on people at all and it does not mean they are any less dominant than a dog who does.

It takes all types of dogs to make the world go around. Some dogs, just like some people, prefer affection and then there are those dogs who do not. Each dog is a unique individual. Therefore they cannot be lumped together with a blanket statement.

Let You Support Them

Karen Reese, Animal Behavior Manager at Operation Kindness

Dogs lean because they want something, your attention, your affection, your comfort. They also lean just to take some weight off their feet and let you support them. They lean to tell you that the spot you are scratching feels great!

Fearful dogs lean to try to disappear or hide or to tell you they need to get away. Or they may lean so nothing else is behind them and they can keep their eyes focused on the thing scaring them.

Pomeranian gets too close for comfort (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Pomeranian gets too close for comfort (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Sign Of Separation Anxiety And Stress

Amber LaRock, Licensed Vet Tech And Veterinary Consultant At CatPet.Club

While most dogs will lean on their owner to find comfort and show their love, there are some dogs that use this behavior to cope with psychological struggles. If a dog is too attached to their owner, they may lean on them each time they sit, follow them around the house, stress when their owners leave the home, and display other undesirable behaviors. If a dog is leaning on their owners in addition to other concerning behaviors, this can be a sign of separation anxiety and stress.

It’s also important to take notice of a dog that suddenly begins to lean on their owner. Dogs can certainly acquire new habits, but sudden changes in behavior should always be taken seriously. Some medical conditions manifest in subtle ways, and changes in their daily habits is on that list. If your once independent pup begins to lean on you at every given opportunity, it may be time for a trip to the vet.

Pug is checked over by vet (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Pug is checked over by vet (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Could Be A Sign Of Illness

Dr Sara Ochoa, Veterinary Consultant for Doglab.com

There are many reasons that a dog could lean on you such as:

• They have a vestibular disease: This can cause your dog to have issues standing up and they may use you for support

• They have an ear infection: inner ear infections can cause your dog to have a slight head tilt and trouble walking straight. They will lean on their owners for balance and support

• Your dog loves you. My dog loves to lean against my legs when I get home. She wants her back scratched and me to give her love and attention.

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