Why Does My Golden Retriever Sit On Me?

by Kern Campbell

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teenager girl hugging golden retriever dog on sofa at home

I have a Golden Retriever, and he is a great dog.  I enjoy spending time with him and being active, but there are some times when he likes to sit on me.  I wouldn’t necessarily mind, but he is such a big dog, and I don’t understand.

Curious to understand why he insists on doing this, I decided to do a little digging and found some information I hope you will also find helpful.

Why Does My Golden Retriever Sit On Me?

There are many reasons why your Golden Retriever will sit on you, including they want your attention, to claim you as their own, because they think this behavior is okay or to be close to their beloved family member.  Golden Retrievers are big dogs, and when they sit on you, it can be uncomfortable and challenging to deal with because of their size. 

The reasons why your Golden Retriever does sit on you can because they want your attention.  Perhaps it has been a long day where you were gone, and they missed you or are suffering separation anxiety.  Why you Golden Retriever sits on you can also be their way of claiming you as their own. 

This is common when there are other dogs in the household, and they want to make it clear to them whose pet parent and loving family member you are.  This is not usually an issue since this dog breed isn’t very dominant by nature, but it is possible since any dog can find a need to stake its claim at certain times.  Another reason why your Golden Retriever sits on you is that they think it is okay. 

If you have encouraged this behavior in the past, even welcomed it, perhaps just once or twice, they will not forget and believe it to be acceptable behavior.   Another reason they might sit on you is to be close to you. They miss you, love you, and want nothing more than to spend time with you.  This can run along the same lines as them seeking attention.  Training helps these and other situations where a dog having control over their actions is needed.

Golden Retrievers are big, loveable dogs that like spending time with their loved ones.

Why Does My Golden Retriever Sit On Me?

With that, there may be times when they feel a need to express precisely how much they love their family in a physical way, including sitting on those they love.  This can surprise pet parents and family members as they are such a big dog breed, and it may be a bit physically awkward.

This breed is known for suffering from separation anxiety when separated from their loved ones as they form close, strong bonds with their family.  When they cannot be close, standing beside their loved ones or at least somewhat physically close, this can have them needing extra attention and acting out this need in unusual ways, like a big dog sitting on your lap.

A Golden Retriever might sit on their pet parent’s lap when they want to make it clear to other animals who you belong to.  This might be the case when other dogs come to the house, perhaps for a barbeque or party.  The Golden Retriever might sit on your lap as a way of saying, this person is mine, to other dogs.

This issue is less common since the Golden Retriever is a mellow, gentle, and friendly dog breed.  There is, however, always the chance for such behaviors to surface if the conditions are right.

A Golden Retriever might sit on you because they think it is a good thing to do.  Perhaps in the past, you, as their pet parent, thought it was cute for your big furry friend to sit on your lap while you petted them.  Other family members may find this behavior funny and adorable because of how loving and cute the Golden Retriever is and looks.  Once this happens, if they didn’t receive a reminder of what they are not allowed to do, the Golden Retriever thinks this is acceptable and normal behavior and decides to do it again.

Training is the answer to this problem for Golden Retriever owners who don’t want their big furry boy or girl sitting on their lap.  Training teaches a dog what is and is not acceptable in different social settings.  They learn to respond to commands that are given by the pet parent, including “down”, “sit”, “stay”.

Golden Retrievers are easily trainable dogs that respond well and learn quickly due to their high intelligence level.  They also aim to please their pet parents.  This can make it easier to prevent this sometimes hard to handle doggie behavior.

Is it okay for my Golden Retriever to sit on my lap?

This answer depends on the individual pet parent.  Some pet parents may find this endearing in a larger dog and welcome it as a form of affection and love.  Others may not enjoy it as much and wish it would stop.   When it comes to harmless behaviors, meaning they don’t hurt anyone or cause problems, then it is entirely up to the pet parent or family what they find acceptable and okay for their Golden Retriever.

Some things must be remembered.  When it comes to behaviors like sitting on your lap, a Golden Retriever is a friendly dog and may not always discriminate between you and the neighbor, grandma, or someone else.

Pet parents have to determine if the behavior is okay with them and okay with everyone else who visits the home and spends time with the dog.  It may seem okay for the Golden Retriever to sit on the pet parents’ lap from time to time, but when grandma comes, it’s a no-no.

A dog may get confused by this double standard. Therefore, whatever is okay to do, is okay to do.   This is not to say that training couldn’t teach them not to jump on anyone else’s lap, but doing this would likely confuse them.

These things must be considered before modifications are made to a Golden Retrievers training or behavior.  The pet parent must have a clear picture of what is okay to do and not and be prepared to implement it.

Most of the time this behavior should not be acceptable because some people can be scared of dogs or simply not like them and to have one suddenly jump up and sit on your lap can be surprising and disturbing.

Why does my Golden Retriever lean on me?

When your Golden Retriever leans on you, it can be related to their emotional needs.  They may be needing attention or have missed you while you were away, or they could be dealing with more complex feelings like fear and want to remain close to feel protected and seek comfort.

When a Golden Retriever leans on you, they look for your attention either to be close and feel the love or because they have a need to be met.  They may have had a rough day and want to feel your presence.

It could be that they are not feeling well and want to know you are there.  Whatever the cause, they are leaning on you for support of some kind.  They might be afraid if there is a thunderstorm and take comfort in being beside you and resting their head or leaning on you.

In these moments, it is best to take a second to address the issue at hand.  Attempting to identify what they need or want can help put their behavior to rights and reduce the amount of stress or emotional troubles they may be feeling.

Why does my Golden Retriever lean on me?

Another reason why a Golden Retriever might lean on you is when they want to let you know that they are there.  This dog breed is very empathetic and will be responsive to its owners’ needs.  If you are sulking or feeling less than your usual self, you can bet that the Golden Retriever will be nearby, ready to offer support.

This might come in the form of a head resting on your leg or hand. It may also come in the form of a face staring at your intently or any other attention-grabbing behavior.  Leaning into or laying on is a more passive way of reminding someone that you are there for them, in a silent and supporting sort of way.

In Conclusion

Golden Retrievers, like other dogs, can sometimes try to sit on your lap.  As odd as this attention-grabbing behavior can be, it is best managed with thorough training.

If you don’t mind this behavior for some reason, it can help pave the way to a stronger and deeper bond between you and your Golden Retriever.   If that is not the case, take a deep breath, refresh their training and remind yourself that this behavior is fixable and move on!  Who couldn’t use a little closeness from time to time with their beloved pet anyway!

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