Whether you find it adorable or annoying, it’s happened to all dog owners at one point or another: the dog stole your spot. What does it mean? Can you curb this habit and keep your spot reserved?
In most cases, your dog’s tendency to sit in your spot after you get up is out of affection for you. He wanted to be close to you by sitting in your spot, which is how he does it. This spot also signifies safety, and your dog may want to enjoy that safety by stealing your spot. It could also be that he is trying to protect your spot from harm until you return, too.
This behavior is also typical when your dog is trying to dominate the other household animals. Since you are the master, successfully taking your spot means that your dog is officially higher on the chain of command than your other pets.
What should you do about this, and when should you worry? Take a look!
4 Reasons for your dog to sit in your spot after you get up
As mentioned above, there are specific reasons why your dog will be stealing your spot when you get up from the couch. Some are concerning, and some are not. These are:
- Showing affection
- Security and safety concerns
- Protecting your spot
- Dominant behavior
1. Showing affection
Your dog loves you a lot, and one of the ways that they show this to you is by stealing your spot the moment you get up. To us, it makes no sense. But to our dogs, it’s their way of saying, “I think you’re awesome!”. It’s okay if you fluctuate between finding this annoying and endearing. We all think it!
2. Security and safety concerns
When your dog steals your spot, it could be that they are feeling insecure. Whether they’re nervous or downright fearful, your spot signifies comfort and safety. So, they’ll take it the moment you get up because they are searching for that security they are missing for whatever reason. This is often paired with other stress indicators, such as lack of eye contact and whining.
3. Protecting your spot
Your dog is your bodyguard. Regardless of how effective they are at being that bodyguard, they take their role very seriously. When you get up, they see sitting in your spot as a sign of protection of that spot. They’ll guard it against intruders and other pets until you return.
This is also an instinctive behavior for your dog. Naturally denning animals, they understood that protecting the den was a vital safety feature to ensure no intruders snuck in and lay in wait to attack them when they returned.
While it’s not needed now, your dog doesn’t know that. So, he protects your spot on the couch from predators nonetheless. This can be accompanied by alert and adorably serious behavior or lying down and seemingly nonchalant (to throw off the predator’s confidence).
4. Dominant behavior
Dogs are wired to be alpha in many cases. If you have other pets, your dog will be driven by instinct to be the alpha of those other animals. You are the master, so you are the true alpha. They’ll steal your spot as a sign that they are second in command and the alpha of the other animals.
This, while it sounds cute, can be a serious problem, as we’ll discuss below. You’ll notice other behaviors with this, too, such as growling at other animals that come close and being especially watchful of when you come back since they will be “second in command” until you do so.
The concern on dominant behavior
Dominant behavior may have been appropriate back in the day when dogs lived in packs, and they were acting this way as a part of a logical hierarchy. However, times have certainly changed. Your dog is now fighting to be the alpha of a pack that doesn’t exist and that the other pets don’t understand or subscribe to.
If your other pets aren’t “obeying” these demands of your dog trying to be dormant over them. In that case, it can lead to your dog reprimanding them and possibly injuring them. Again, this is a natural pack instinct that had its place historically.
Since you want to ensure that your dogs stay safe and secure, you’ll need to be very careful to nip any kind of dormant behavior as soon as you see it. This goes for dominant behavior that you see in your dog and any other household pets.
A household with pets fighting each other for dominance will eventually lead to an injury or worse. Make sure that you learn how to retrain this spot-stealing behavior quickly and properly. We’ve discussed this more below to help you out.
It’s important to note that a dog doesn’t understand that this biological instinct isn’t required. They see themselves as a part of a pack, so they will continue to fight for alpha until you step in and redirect the behavior.
Why does my dog take my place when I get out of bed?
Do you have an issue where your dog incessantly steals your spot in the bed when you get up? In some cases, they mimic the same behaviors with your spot on the couch. To them, it’s the same thing, after all.
However, stealing your spot in bed can also be about your dog’s comfort. Since you’ve been sleeping in it all night, it’s warm and comfortable. Your dog will want those things for themselves, so they’ll snuggle in your spot to enjoy the warmth and comfort — as well as your scent, which will calm them.
Sometimes a dog will steal your spot in bed because they’re lazy, too. They don’t feel like getting up even if you’ve decided to do so, so they’re making it clear that they’re staying in bed, by, well, staying in bed and being obvious about it.
How to stop my dog from stealing my spot
Your spot is your spot, and it’s annoying to come back from the bathroom to discover that it’s been taken over. If you want to stop this from happening, it will be about taking a stance on it.
When you see that they’ve stolen your spot, direct them to get down as soon as you see it. Do this every single time. Keep your tone of voice and command (whatever you choose) consistent each time.
This works best if you redirect them to another surface to sleep on. For example, a dog bed or a blanket. They’ll learn the correct behavior and adapt to this much faster. You don’t need to worry about disappointing them; this is not how they feel, but instead what you feel they are feeling. Realistically, this is just correcting their confusion!
During this process, make sure that you only reward the good behavior of moving to the location or, later, coming back to see your dog in their spot rather than stealing theirs. This will tell them that not stealing your spot will get them affection while stealing it will not give them anything.
How to prevent my dog from stealing my spot
Looking for some general tips on keeping all of your pets out of your spot? Here are some pointers to help you out:
- “Just this once” will be an instant fail
- Keep all of your pets consistent with the rule
- Provide lots of comfortable spots for all of your pets to relax near you
Another thing to do is make sure that every pet gets dedicated snuggle and playtime with you. Sometimes pets will think that getting your attention this way is the only way they’ll get your love and affection.
Show them that this is actually the way not to get that affection. Also, there is plenty of affection and snuggle time to go around. This will all help keep your spot safe, and all of your pets will feel secure.
All in all
Your dog’s habit of stealing your spot is because they are showing you affection. Sometimes they will also be either protecting your spot from harm or searching for security in the spot you just left.
Spot stealing can be a sign of dominant behavior, too, which is something that you’ll need to identify and address as quickly as you can for your safety as well as that of your other household pets!
While stealing your spot often seems like a teasing activity to humans, it is biological for most dogs. Understanding and interpreting it correctly will help you retrain it and keep your spot safe the next time you get up for a snack!
Know someone who is dealing with this problem? Share this article with them and help them earn their spot back!